Dad Gone


I read during lunch every day. This summer’s reading includes two very different books that, sadly, share one read-between-the-lines moral.

How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough came to my attention from a Facebook friend posting that it was one of the books on Bill Gates’s reading list. As a father and as someone who majored in a field that deals with how people learn and succeed, I felt a duty to read this.

Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker is not the sort of book I typically read, but it has garnered considerable attention. The book examines the Long Island serial killer murders of women who sold sex via Craigslist.

The Tough book is something of a chain yank, since it focuses almost exclusively on how children in poverty can succeed. Featuring mini-profiles of poor children and their efforts to rise above a multi-generational trap of failure, it postulates a set of a traits these kids can pursue to improve their chances in life.

Meanwhile, the Kolker book’s profiles of the victims shows one way for girls in poorer families NOT to succeed: by turning to self-managed prostitution. Almost without exception, the lives of the young women in this book mirrored those of the Tough book, save that the victims here are all white.

What neither book really wants to come out and say is what is most disturbing about their similarities. How Children Succeed dances around this reality like a soldier trapped in a minefield, and Lost Girls (so far) reports just the facts, also avoiding the issue.

In both these books what is most obvious is the lack of a concerned, involved, stable father at home.

Dad and kidsAn endless stream of ne’er-do-well men drift in and out of the lives of the kids in How Children Succeed and Lost Girls. It’s so glaring and so routine that the authors’ failure to elaborate on it speaks volumes, especially in the Tough book, which I found particularly gutless in its unwillingness to state the obvious: that children succeed when they have a stable mom and dad at home. And in the Kolker book, knowing that most of these women started life with an absent father makes their ultimate life choices and demise all the more heartrending.

But this blog is not about poor children and murdered prostitutes.

I’ve written previously on Cerulean Sanctum that men in the Church have a greater responsibility than they assume. At a time when so many children are being raised by a mother alone, Christian men cannot cocoon within their own nuclear families. Men of all ages in the Church must understand that their responsibility to the next generation does not end with their own children.

If we are to make a positive impact on that next generation, Christian men need to make a concerted effort to be involved in the lives of other people’s children, especially those children who lack a father at home.

No doubt, this is a heavy task. We Christian men are overburdened as it is.

Still, if these two books depict the canary in the coal mine of our society, it’s that America cannot be great if its families are not great. And despite what the Left in America thinks, great families start with a solid, caring mom and dad at home.

If that is not possible, though, someone needs to step up to make it better than it is.

Church leaders, you know the families in your church that have a dad who has gone missing. You need to be more intentional about calling the men in your church, as a group, to do something about that lack.

Kids of all ages need strong, positive male role models. Both How Children Succeed and Lost Girls make this obvious, even if they are unwilling to say so.

11 thoughts on “Dad Gone

  1. linda

    Hi Dan,
    I like your suggestion that other kids’ dads take some interest in children they are in contact with who have no dad at home or contact with a dad who may live elsewhere. Some dads live in other cities but they keep contact with their kids throughout the year. This can be ok, I think. My dad was absent and lost for 36+ years. When I was 13 my parents separated and divorced. I never saw my dad again. I was called by phone when he died and asked to come to Winnipeg to look after matters there. I knew he was likely living in Winnipeg but no one in the family was able to find him. He was living under a different assumed name. I was not able to see his body after he died. He was decomposed and in a sealed metal container in the morgue when I arrived in Winnipeg by plane.

    I think your post about ‘Dad Gone’ is also reason to have annointed teachers in the children’s Sunday school classes and in ministry to children. These kids need God in their lives and they need good teaching and experiences with God in their lives. This is their salvation, so to speak. God can keep his hand upon them. He can teach them what they need to know as they follow Him. He can provide for their needs in life. He can make them whole and happy.

    I made my confession of belief in Christ when I was about 28 years old. I also had an experience with God as a young child about 8 or 9 years old in school. Mrs. Church, bless her heart, brought some of her class to a prayer to Jesus at Eastertime. After a picture of a cross and lilies we kids were asked to make as an art project in a small rural classroom in a village. (Saskatchewan). God’s spirit and word penetrates everywhere. It changed my life at the time, and it changed my life going into the future.

  2. Our modern society basically hates fathers.

    A thousand things has been set up to work against them.

    What man any more can make a living to support a family?

    And the list just goes on and on after that.

    So Dan, you have every reason to be dire.

    • Oengus,

      I wonder if it is more the death by 1,000 cuts. Still, to the man being cut, it makes little difference.

      What bothers me most is that men are not allowed to fail, in any way, in our society. We are not permitted to make mistakes, even if the mistake comes despite working hard NOT to make that mistake. Anything less than perfection at all times is grounds for punishment. Tow that line or pay the consequences.

      The Church has not found a way to counter this, which is why men sit outside in their cars on Sunday while the little woman sits in the pew and says her prayers.

      No grace is offered to men. Grace is only available to women. That’s how it feels. And that’s how we’ve defined manhood: Be perfect all the time.

      Our society’s concept of grace is that our wives will tolerate us watching sports on Sunday if we’ve done all our chores perfectly. Sadly, the Church’s concept isn’t too far off that.

      • Dan: “No grace is offered to men.”

        My company is exporting my job overseas. You see, Dan, even succeeding doesn’t matter any more, let alone failure.

        Ho, hum, another day in America. In earlier times, by this point we would have staged a bloody revolution to stop the nonsense. But today, nobody gives a fig.

        • Oengus,

          I am very sad to hear this. When I started this blog, I talked about these issues early on. I have no pretense that I’m anyone with a voice to change things, but it is still sad to see the Church respond so slowly, if at all, to issues of work. It’s just not happening, and I think it’s because the bootstrapping mentality prevails EVERYWHERE. We talk about community, but the fact is that we’re all on our own, no matter what people say. And it shouldn’t be that way. That it is is a sin.

          Drop me a private email. Let me know what you are looking for. I will do what I can.

    • Young men can pull it off, Oengus. Society still loves the young. Just don’t get old. Wisdom, loyalty, and ethics simply are not as valued because the elite are too shortsighted and the bottom line doesn’t immediately quake when wisdom, loyalty, and ethics go missing.

  3. linda

    Hi Dan,
    I read the post dated Aug12 by Oengus. I think there is more involved in the import of jobs overseas. There is cheaper labor in other countries for sure, but I seem to remember reading somewhere that the borders of nations will be removed in the New Order. Migrations of people will occur regularly. People will move to where their particular job is located. Of course, this is assuming that government is the same throughout the world. A one world government.

    Just some thoughts. There may be something much bigger underlining the angst that the North American men are feeling and experiencing. I think that we have to be aware that the lifestyle we are used to in North America may change fairly drastically. Does this mean that life is not worth living? No. We make adjustment as Christians. We have the ability to do well with adjustment in Christ. ‘I can do all things in Christ’ is not just a scripture to have in our memory, it’s a scripture to live by.

    • Linda,

      The number of women on psychoactive meds is exploding. I don’t believe women are made to handle what they are asked to handle and what they’ve accepted to handle because feminism says they should be able to handle it. Women have displaced men and are paying the consequence of this. They can pay when they are young, but when they get into their 40s and 50s, they can longer bear that burden and they are burning out. I think men CAN handle that burden, but what they can’t handle is being displaced, and this is what is happening.

  4. Great article.

    We cannot make big changes to our culture and society. We can, however, build marriages, parenting, couples, community relationships by focusing on equipping people with skills of relationships. I am frustrated that there is a lot of “cursing the darkness” but not much “lighting candles”. There are about 500,000 churches in America so that is a lot of candles and a lot of light in a very dark time.

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