As I looked down the road into the sun, I saw the silhouettes of a man and a woman walking side by side. The man held a young two year old boy in his arms. The young boy reached and called out for his Mummy.
Maybe I got it wrong though, because the next moment, when I looked again, I saw the young boy in his mother’s arms reaching out and calling for Daddy.
As I watched, this couple started to move further and further apart as they walked down the road. The little boy’s voice echoed in my ears and seemed to pierce my heart. “Daddy, Daddy I love you!” he cried, but Daddy did not turn. This really got to me and I began to cry.
I looked as the little boy kept reaching out and calling for his Daddy but by now I was sobbing. I woke up and realised it was a dream. My pillow was wet with tears and I was worried that I was having a nervous breakdown. What was happening to me?
I said to myself, “You have four young boys, you have a successful job in the building industry and you have a beautiful wife who you have been married to for 14 years! What is wrong with you?”
Under my breath I muttered the question, “Why is this dream affecting you so much? Who is this little boy?”
A still small voice whispered back to me, “That is you!” and the tears continued to roll down my cheeks.
Suddenly I remembered my youngest son, who was two years old at the time. How would he feel if I split up with my wife and his mother? How would he feel if I walked away from our 14 year marriage? How would he feel if I was no longer there? These questions were all running through my subconscious mind at the time. Many years ago I wrote a song about the paid called ‘Daddy Doesn’t Live Here Anymore’. Listen to it here.
My rock band was playing at an all-boys high school later that day. It was a teachers’ strike and was really an excuse for a controlled riot. The teachers on duty were struggling and so were we, as loud as we were. Then I told my story. I told my dream from that very morning.
You could have heard a pin drop; in a boys high school in the middle of a teacher’s strike that is like having silence in the middle of an atomic explosion.
Why were these young rowdy teenagers so strangely moved by this seemingly innocent story?
It is a well known fact that what children fear most of all is the breakup of their parents. It is not the fear of whether they will have a job when they leave school, but coming home to an empty house as so many of their friends already do, or to a house without their Dad.
Tonight in Australia over one million children will go to sleep without their natural father in the family home. Perhaps half of the young boys there had experienced the pain of fatherlessness first hand and it was the greatest fear of the other half.
And I understood and knew firsthand the pain of the little boy in the dream, and the fears of the students at school. For the first ten years of my life I only saw my dad half of the time. I thought that everyone lived with their grandmother.
Bill Muehlenberg writes in the Facts on Fatherlessness,
As David Blankenhorne said in his ground breaking book ‘Fatherless America’, “fatherlessness is the most harmful demographic trend of this generation”.
He puts it this way: “There exists today no greater single threat to the long-term well-being of children, our communities, or our nation, than the increasing number of children being raised without a committed, responsible, and loving father.”
Bryan Rodgers of the Australian National University has recently re-examined the Australian research. Says Rodgers: “Australian studies with adequate samples have shown parental divorce to be a risk factor for a wide range of social and psychological problems in adolescence and adulthood, including poor academic achievement, low self-esteem, psychological distress, delinquency and recidivism, substance use and abuse, sexual precocity, adult criminal offending, depression, and suicidal behaviour.” He concludes: “There is no scientific justification for disregarding the public health significance of marital dissolution in Australia, especially with respect to mental health.”
A New Zealand summary of the data based on national and international research conducted over the past two decades also found major positive outcomes for children when fathers are present, and negative outcomes when fathers are absent. The report states:
“The weight of the evidence is that fathers can make unique, direct contributions to their children’s well-being. These findings held true after controlling for a range of factors, including mothers’ involvement, children’s characteristics, children’s early behavioural problems, family income, socio-economic status over time, stepfather involvement and family structure.” It goes on to list the many specific ways in which fathers positively contribute to the wellbeing of children.”
We have to turn the tide of fatherless in Australia today.
It’s not just my story, but the story of growing up without a dad belongs to millions of children who now suffer disproportionately from that same set of insidious statistics that come from fatherlessness.
Someone has to do something you say!
If the story of Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody is any indication, then that Somebody is you.
The team at Dads4Kids needs you to do three things:
- Be the best Dad in the world for your children.
2. Consider becoming a Good to Great course trainer and help Dads4Kids change the world one father at a time. Our annual Train the Trainer Summit is being held 13-15 May 2016.
For more information about the Summit, click here.
To apply and take on this challenge, click here.
3. If you are unable to consider #2 please send this email to Somebody you know who might consider becoming a trainer.
Yours for taking up the challenge
PS. We are calling this newsletter Good to Great – Extreme Challenge. I believe that doing the Good to Great fathering course is very challenging, suitable for good fathers who want to take on the very difficult challenge of moving towards greatness. To become a trainer of Good to Great is to accept one of the greatest challenges of all, challenging other men. That is why we call it an Extreme Challenge!
We will be raising funds for the Train the Trainer in the near future so will keep you posted. This is the fourth way to help, but for the moment let us concentrate on the first three.