Recently I revisited a competition that Dads4Kids held some time ago to get ideas about how to progress Dads4Kids. The thoughts and comments that came in showed profound insight and were deeply moving.
Lyle Sims, one of the top three winners of the Dads4Kids Competition observed wisely, “Our young people are the future of our nation. As they go, so goes the nation. Our future is in their hands, their future is in ours.”
What do the young people of Australia think are the challenges that they face?
What do they think are the solutions to those problems?
Unexpectedly many of the entries for the competition were from children. Many of those children spoke very clearly about the problems they face.
Kim, South Australia: The greatest challenge facing children today is spending quality time with dads. With Dads living so busy lives working . . .
Jack, Queensland: The greatest challenge facing children today is not feeling wanted or needed. Some kids just want some guidelines and for someone in their life to say, “No, you can’t do that.”
Jamie, Queensland: The greatest challenge facing children today is not having their dad as they are growing up.
James, South Australia: My dad committed suicide when I was 12 and it shattered me.
Ethan, Queensland: The greatest challenge facing children today is watching their parents fight which often leads to divorce.
Michael, New South Wales: The greatest challenge facing children today is they want to have fun with their dads.
Laura, Queensland: The greatest challenge facing children today is not having a mum or dad to tell stuff to . . . children need someone to guide them through their life.
William, NSW: The greatest challenge facing children today is when your mother and father are divorced and they live in another state.
Tannika, Victoria: The greatest challenge facing children today is having their parents split up.
Jess, NSW: The greatest challenge facing children today is their parents being unsuitable to own a puppy let alone raise a child.
Katie, Queensland: The greatest challenge facing children today is not having one of their parents around to look after them.
Julia, Queensland: I am 15 years old and I think the greatest challenge facing children today is, to be honest, not having a father. I don’t have one and it has affected me greatly through my life with finding attention from the wrong boys to fill that gap of not having a male in my life . . . I have a mum who loves me very much but there’s just something missing and it’s my father’s love. I never had a father figure in my life and that’s why I think so many kids my age and older . . . go down the wrong track and end up in a bad situation.
Julia’s heartfelt pleas are impossible to ignore. She is not alone. The children of Australia are crying out for fathers who will love them unconditionally, spend time with them, guide them and listen to them.
While many young people brought up other pressing matters such as drugs, alcohol, health, obesity and bullying, the number one concern was the lack of a father figure closely followed by family breakdown. Sadly, for many children, it is one and the same thing.
Fourteen year old Paul from Queensland finished in the top 20 out of 575 entries. He talked about a number of important issues but also included having no mother and father as an issue of critical importance. His advice to parents is to the point:
Parents have to spend time with their children and listen and talk to them about the important things. Just go outside and spend time and have fun with your children. They will be a lot better off with their self-esteem and self-respect. That shows your children that you love them. I’m 14 and I still play out in the yard with my dad. I think it’s great that he could still be bothered.”
Listen to the children of Australia. Young Paul’s wisdom is hard to beat.
Spend time, listen, talk, go outside and have fun.
Yours for our children