There's bad news for dads this Father's Day. A new survey of youth opinion shows that less than half of U.S. teens say they are frequently proud of their fathers (source: Attitudes and Behaviors of
Youth, OneHope, 2010). While this certainly is troubling, I can't say I'm surprised.
For the last decade, American pop culture has idolized the slacker guy, the video gamer, the non-conformist and the goofball dad over the accountable, responsible, involved family man. Fewer and fewer parents are getting married and staying married, and the passive, distant beta male has become our societal standard. As a result, our kids are suffering the consequences of having boy-men for role models and fathers: The average teen boy now watches 50 porn clips and indulges in videos games for an entire work day a week (sources: Philip Zimbardo: "The Demise of Guys," TED Conference 2011; Kaiser Family
A study commissioned by my organization found that nearly half of U.S. teens spend less than 30 minutes a week talking with their fathers about things that really matter. Almost a third spent virtually no time at all conversing with their dads on important life topics. And still we wonder why teen boys today increasingly retreat to a world of fantasy games, pornography and juvenile media. I believe it's due in large part because we're surrendering our kids to the steady stream of derelict male examples immortalized in movies like "Animal House" and "The Hangover" and popularized by what USA Today dubbed the "Frat Pack" of Will Ferrell, Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Owen and Luke Wilson, Jack Black and Steve Carell.
Our remoteness and aloofness as fathers is raising a generation of eternal adolescents -- sons who mature on the outside but aren't realizing their full potential as grown, productive adults on the inside. The implications of this trend for the future of today's youth are frightening. That's why it's so important for dads to be engaged.
Children have a right to the emotional and physical security that comes from responsible and involved parents. No matter a man's own childhood story or past experiences with his father, now is about the experiences and story of today's kids. Their happiness, wellbeing and future are in our hands.
As we dads work to meet the basic physical needs of our children, we must not forget to provide them first with a sense of purpose and identity, an understanding of their value, and an example to follow. That is our primary responsibility -- to shape lives.
The Bible's great book of wisdom, Proverbs, tells us how to accomplish this aim: Raise your children in the way they should go, not just in the rules they should know. We are the ones who must model mature behavior and sound morals to our kids. We must demonstrate the kind of
person we want our kids to be when they grow up and, believe it or not, they're watching.
Eighty percent of teens still say that their parents are their greatest influencers. That's great news for dads. Fathers have the power to make a positive impact on the next generation, but only when
we show up and show interest. We can't just be there; we have to be actively and positively involved. When we supply our kids with solid foundations, we propel them to great things.
On June 19, let's make a pact as fathers, as husbands and as men to get serious about our roles in our families. This Father's Day, instead of just receiving gifts, let's give our kids the gifts they deserve: our attention, our admonition and our affection.
Rob Hoskins is President of OneHope (www.OneHope.net)
Based in South Florida, OneHope is reaching the world's children and youth with God's love in a way that addresses their specific cultural challenges. Founded in 1987, OneHope has reached more than 740 million young people in 125 countries with the message of the Bible through meaningful media experiences.