One thing I’ve always strived for in my life and tried to pass along to my two sons, even at their tender ages, is to live a life of integrity. For them, those lessons start with: Love God, love your mom, always tell the truth, stick up for those who need you, and never ever give up.
Like all dads, I sometimes fail to live up to my own expectations as a parent or be the one I think they deserve. But I know my boys have one of the greatest privileges in American life – they have a present father.
I know how important that is, in part, because I, too, had a present Dad who taught me life lessons, modeled behavior I tried to adopt, and shared his wisdom with me. But for too many children that is simply not a reality.
Today’s America is experiencing a fatherhood crisis, with the lack of involved fathers increasing dramatically in America in just my lifetime. Today almost 1 out of every 4 children in America live life without an active, involved father.
While we’ve long understood the value and importance of mothers, only recently have we started to recognize the significance of an engaged father.
Social science is often cloudy and sometimes messy, but one indicator that is becoming increasingly clear is the positive impact of an involved father on the individual success of his children and the collective success for communities, institutions, and society. Even if your child has an involved father or father figure in his or her life, the society created with fewer involved dads is one with more crime, more drug addiction, more depression, more imprisonment, and less accountability.
On the other hand, children with present and positive relationships with their dads are half as likely to show signs of depression, twice as likely to go to college, and 80% less likely to spend time in jail.
This year, I challenged the Florida House to come up with a solution that will help kids today and change the culture and expectations of future generations. Just because a child today grew up without an involved father doesn’t predestine him or her for less than optimal success – but social science shows that it makes the odds significantly harder.
(Credit: Florida House of Representatives)
In Florida, we are carving a path for responsible fatherhood with the passage of Florida House Bill 7065, signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis. Our bill – the first of its kind for any state – puts the odds back in favor of children by investing significant state resources to ensure fathers, father figures, and mentors can be present and active in children’s lives. It provides grants to community organizations to address the comprehensive needs of dads and provide evidence-based parenting education. It also assists non-custodial fathers in becoming self-sufficient and meeting child support obligations, and it establishes June as Responsible Fatherhood Month.
And just Wednesday, we saw Congress take the first step to follow Florida’s lead on addressing fatherlessness with a resolution sponsored by Congressmen Burgess Owens (R-UT) and Byron Donalds (R-FL). I hope that both Congress and every state starts to really see this issue as one worth a meaningful investment — like Florida’s $70 million — for the benefit of our kids.
Research shows that children born into fatherless homes are twice as likely to drop out of school and fatherless boys are three times as likely to go to jail. Fatherless homes contribute to 70% of high school dropouts and 60% of youth suicides.
We cannot legislate fatherhood, responsibility, or character, but together we have an opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of the next generation and build a better, more harmonious society. And that difference can begin today with every American man – whether you’re an already present dad, a father who’s got some responsibility to live up to, or just a guy willing to be a role model for kids who need one.
(Credit: Florida House of Representatives)
I have yet to meet a perfect dad, at least on this side of heaven. That gives me hope. It’s never too late to step up, man up, and be the positive, engaged dad that your son, daughter or loved one in your life needs.
This Father’s Day, whoever you are, take time to visit, call, text, or just reach out to your father or a father figure, a child, mentee, or potential mentee. Be that one who makes a difference, who reconnects fathers to families and breaks a generational cycle that impacts so many. Every man who does this adds to the trickle that’s building into a tidal wave of societal change that will change America for the better for generations to come.
Chris Sprowls is the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives and father to two young boys. Learn more about Florida HB 7065 and contact the Speaker at www.myfloridahouse.gov.
Photo credit for header image, Sprowls and Sons, goes to The Workmans.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.