Let's talk kindness for a moment!
You don't have to be a biological parent to provide the wealth of benefits a male brings to a fatherless home. What's more, serving as a positive role model will likely give you at least as much satisfaction as it does the child you mentor if not more.
It's too easy for us to sit back, read or watch the news and commiserate about the lack of fathers in so many U.S. homes. In medical terms the numbers are of epidemic proportions. Empathy and compassion are worthy, but passive and ineffectual by nature.
We all know the consequences to children, particularly boys raised in a home without a strong male influence. Put aside societal impact like dropping out of school resulting in the need for increased public assistance, more family and gang violence, drug involvement for income and the inevitable incarceration. It's a never ending vicious cycle. Let's explore the humanity angle.
As a Huffington Post reader you are clearly an educated individual who understands and is aware of the impact on children when there's no dad in the home. There's the obvious feelings of abandonment, loneliness, lack of a positive male role model for whom to turn for advice. Often totally unjustified guilt associated with the father's absence.
Perhaps the saddest part is the loss of potential. You would be surprised at the amazing amount of talent that goes unrealized. So many young people who could make countless contributions never get the chance. And the solution is not difficult. Or it shouldn't be for an allegedly enlightened nation.
I've pondered how I would have turned out had I been raised in a single family home despite having a wonderful and well educated mom. I was a failing math and science student. I grew up in New York in another era. The consequences today would most likely result in my not graduating high school. What course might my life have taken?
Moms who fulfill a dual parental role are to be lauded. Many with little formal education work double shifts simply to put food on the table. And there are other incredibly self-sacrificing mothers. One a close personal friend has worked the graveyard shift for eleven years so she could send her child off to school and be home when he returned in the afternoon. She's sacrificed virtually her entire social life to ensure availability to her boy.
Here's a quick little Mind Acrobatics mini-exercise to help put things in perspective.
- Put aside 10 minutes to introspect a bit.
- Grab a paper and pencil.
- If you had a dad at home list the good times you recall.
- No dad, write down all you feel you missed out on?
This short exercise is simply a prompt to get you thinking about the value of having had a dominant male figure on whom you could call when the need arose or not having someone to whom you could count on in the clinches.
I began this article by stating how easy it is to sit back and read about problems fatherless homes face. Now here's one solution.
Think how easy it would be to bring a bit of happiness and joy into a youngster's existence.
How would your life be impacted if once every three weeks you spent a few hours on a Saturday as a companion to an elementary or teenage boy? Perhaps he could also call you on the phone once a week or as the need arose.
If you're affluent you could take him to a major league ball game, eat hot dogs, drink soda and spend a few exciting hours. Money a little tighter, you could go bowling during 'off' hours. Cash flow almost negative... how about visiting a park tossing the pigskin and eating an ice cream.
The bottom line is... there's no valid reason short of health issues not to serve as a mentor.
I've just mentioned a few simple ideas. It's often hard to know what to do or how to get started. The great thing is there's plenty of assistance available. Contact the local social services agency in your neighborhood and they'll be happy to hook you up where you can be of help.
I don't generally tend to be pessimistic, but when it comes to helping young people I am incredibly frustrated. Most of my network are social progressives committed to creating a better, kinder more caring society.
Yet what I hear is a lot of theoretical conversation, discussion of financial donations, fund raisers, occasional volunteer visits and other one time events. Mostly I'm not witnessing investigation and action into more substantial alternatives.
They say money talks... but when it comes to kids personal interest and contact trumps all.
We have the capability of bringing so much joy into a young person's life. Let's visibly demonstrate our kindness and concern.
Here's my challenge to you!
If you're a boomer and read The Huffington Post modify your protocol a bit. I'm willing to bet that Arianna Huffington would gladly have you trade off a few hours of HP reading time monthly to enrich the life of a young child yearning for adult companionship. And I'll bet the advertisers would gladly hop on board giving their employees comp time for social service. What an incredible win-win it would be!
This time next year Father's Day will take on a new meaning for you and the youngster whose life you've impacted. Carpe Diem!
Need a kick-start to help out? Contact me and I'll find opportunities to make a difference in your area. Shoot me an e-mail.
Visit my HP BIO PAGE for additional articles on building stronger more satisfying family communication as well as techniques to create and implement empowering life change. Mentoring is a salve to the soul as well as one of the critical components to improving a young person's quality of life.
Contact Life Coach Dave Kanegis at: email@example.com and follow him on Twitter.
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