Fatherless Families—A Sign of the Times
WHAT would you say is the most significant social problem of the day? Almost 80 percent of those polled in a U.S. Gallup survey believe that it is “the physical absence of the father from the home.” According to Gallup, over 27 million children in the United States live apart from their biological fathers, and that number is rapidly increasing. A report by the United Nations Children’s Fund states that about 50 percent of white children born in the United States since 1980 “will spend some part of their childhood in a singleparent family. For black children the proportion is about 80%.” USA Today thus designated the United States “the world leader in families without fathers.”
Nevertheless, an article in The Atlantic Monthly observes: “The rise in family disruption is not unique to American society. It is evident in virtually all advanced nations, including Japan.” And while statistics are hard to come by, many developing lands seem to be facing a similar crisis. According to the magazine World Watch, “men [in poor countries] often abandon their wives and children because of increasing economic pressures.” Indeed, a survey in a Caribbean country revealed that only 22 percent of fathers with eight-year-old children actually lived with their children.
Fatherless children were common even in Bible times. (Deuteronomy 27:19; Psalm 94:6) Back then, however, the main reason young ones became fatherless was the death of a father. “Today,” says writer David Blankenhorn, “the principal cause of fatherlessness is paternal choice.” Indeed, as we will see, the rising number of fatherless children gives evidence that many people today are without “natural affection.” According to the Bible, this is just one more proof that we are living in “the last days.”—2 Timothy 3:1-3.
For young children, however, the disappearance of a father from their lives is a personal tragedy. It initiates a cycle of pain and devastation that can have long-lasting consequences. Therefore, in this series we will discuss this cycle, not to dishearten readers, but to provide information that can help families to halt this destructive trend.