In 1981 I became involved in the men’s movement more by accident than by design. That happy “accident” was one of the best things that happened to me. I started going to men’s groups, men’s weekends and listening to men talk about fatherhood and manhood. I started reading books on manhood, fatherhood, marriage and family. My first son was born in 1981 so it was a good time to start. Having said all that, one of the best parts of being part of the men and fathers movement was meeting really great men who inspired me to even greater levels of manhood and fatherhood.
Such a man is Robert Falzone, the cofounder of ‘Men Alive’, a Christian men’s group that has reached over 12,000 men in Australia and New Zealand since 2003. When Rob asked me to review his new book called ‘The Father Factor’ this is what I had to say about it:
“The Father Factor is a unique, profound and ground-breaking book. Profound because it collates the latest research on the importance of fathers in families, but not just fathers, also mothers, faith and family. Ground-breaking because it also includes personal stories, case studies and gives strategies for success and happiness. Unique because it is fresh and nothing like it has been written before.”
I include a short excerpt from The Father Factor here so you can make your own judgement:
“The father factor is also a gatekeeper for the other key factors (That help people grow up and become successful). Humans imbibe foundational relationship skills during the early years of life when the father and mother have enormous influence. For better or worse, fathers really do affect their children’s relationships. The teen pregnancy rate in New Zealand and America, for example, has been found to be about 7 to 8 times higher in early father absent families than in father present families. The rate is about 2 to 3 times higher in late father absent families (Ellis et al, 2003).
The father factor also impacts on the addiction factor. A Swedish study found that girls from single parent families were more than 3 times as likely to die from an addiction to drugs or alcohol as girls from two parent families. Swedish boys from single parent families were found to be about 5 times as likely to die from an addiction to drugs or alcohol as those in two parent families (Weitoft et al, 2003).
The father factor even impacts on the mother factor. An involved and loving father shares the parenting duties. This kind of responsible sharing helps the mother to be a more effective parent (Amato, 1998; Biller, 1993).
The social science research on the importance of fathers is now firmly positioned and convincing – children do better by almost every common social indicator when they have an involved, loving, and nurturing relationship with both a father and a mother (McLanahan and Sandefur, 1994; Allen and Daly, 2007). Conversely, they tend to do worse in life when they have no fathering or very bad fathering (Jaffe et al, 2003).
The father factor impacts powerfully not only on sons, daughters and mothers – it also impacts on society as a whole. Studies in the US have shown that the percentage of fatherless youth in a neighbourhood is one of the best predictors of crime rates for that neighbourhood (Gottfredson and Hirschi, 1990).”
CASE STUDY: In the late 1980’s the elephant population at Kruger National Park in South Africa became unmanageable. It was felt that the only solution was to cull the elephant population, and it was the adult elephants that were killed. Some of the young elephants who remained were then transferred to Pilanesburg National Park in the north of the country.
Not long after the transfer of the juvenile elephants, some abnormalities started occurring at the young elephants’ new home. Violent killings of white rhinoceroses started occurring. At first the rangers suspected that poachers were responsible, but video footage showed otherwise. The rhinos were being killed by the young male elephants. This was perplexing – the terrorizing of other animals was contrary to normal elephant behavior.
The rangers started to suspect that the natural social order had been upset by the separation of the young elephants from the older ones, so they decided to transfer some older male elephants into Pilanesburg National Park. After this transfer occurred, the young male elephants settled down into normal, non-violent elephant behavior.
The park managers subsequently realized that the problematical behavior of the young elephants had been brought on by ‘musth’, a condition of suddenly increased testosterone during mating season. Normally, the younger males’ fighting instincts are kept in check by the presence and dominance of the older elephants, but this socializing influence had been taken away with the removal of the older animals. The re-introduction of the older males to the herd created a civilizing influence and restored the natural order.
“Based on evidence, data and the insights provided by pertinent case studies, this book will argue that fathers and father-child relationships matter. The influence of fathers forms an indelible impact and impression of the lives of children. Good fathering grows healthy children, it fosters stable marriages and it forms the scaffolding of a robust and strong society.
The father factor can be either a positive or negative influence in our lives, and it is within our power to make it a positive one. If we forego anger towards our fathers for their failings, and if we express gratitude for the contribution they made to our lives, we unlock a door which leads to a happier life (Worthington, E, 2004).
This is the father factor. It is real, it is relevant, and it is destiny shaping.”
Yes, as a father you are the single biggest factor in your children’s success or failure. That is why you are reading this newsletter. Trust me you are making a difference. Just keep on keeping on. As Tim Hansel said, “It takes time to be a good father. It takes effort – trying, failing, and trying again.”
Yours for destiny-shaping fathers
PS International Men’s Day is on this Wednesday 19 November 2014. Make sure you celebrate with your friends. Make sure you celebrate by wishing everyone Happy International Men’s Day.
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