Father figures: We need you

5 mins

Father's day is a far less celebrated holiday in our country than Mother’s day.

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Maybe it is because kids have barely recovered from celebrating their mothers. Maybe it is because moms might do more that deserves to be celebrated than dads do. Maybe it is because it is a more emotionally difficult day for many than is Mother’s day, because it reminds single mothers that they are alone in parenting. It reminds fatherless children that they are missing out.

But it also should remind us of the irreplaceable role of fathers. We would be well served to be reminded that:

  • 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (US Dept. Of Health/Census) – 5 times the average
  • 70% of youths in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes – 9 times the average (U.S. Dept. of Justice, Sept. 1988)
  • 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes – 9 times the average (National Principals Association Report)
  • 80% of rapists with anger problems come from fatherless homes –14 times the average (Justice & Behavior, Vol 14, p. 403-26)
  • 85% of all youths in prison come from fatherless homes – 20 times the average (Fulton Co. Georgia, Texas Dept. of Correction)
  • 85% of all children who show behavior disorders come from fatherless homes – 20 times the average (Center for Disease Control)
  • 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes – 32 times the average

I’m calling on all men to be great fathers and father figures. You are needed, and no one can replace you. Yours is a calling that our culture is dying for you to fulfill. The marks of your necessity are written all over creation. Not just on our hearts as human beings, but even in the movings of the animal kingdom.

I’ve been to South Africa many times and have seen their majestic elephants in their national park system. It is well known that in the 90’s, officials at the Kruger National Park were faced with a growing elephant problem. The population of African elephants, once endangered, had grown larger than the park could sustain. Elephants eat a massive amount of vegetation and they trample just as much. Too high of a concentration can throw off the entire ecosystem and lead to the death of plant and animal species. Something needed to be done to thin the ranks.

This problem still exists, which is why “culling” or legalized hunting is always a topic and always controversial. Fortunately, they had another option back then. A plan was devised to relocate some of the elephants to nearby Pilanesberg National Park, which was underpopulated with the majestic beasts. Being enormous creatures, elephants are not easily transported, so the technology only existed to transport the smaller ones instead of the largest and most mature bull elephants.

Sometime later, a strange problem surfaced at the younger elephants’ new home. Rangers began finding the dead bodies of endangered white rhinoceros. At first, poachers were suspected, but the huge rhinos had not died of gunshot wounds, and their precious horns were left intact. The rhinos appeared to be killed violently, with deep puncture wounds. Not much in the wild can kill a rhino, so rangers set up hidden cameras throughout the park. They discovered that the younger elephants were killing the rhinos. This had never been seen before. It appeared to be part bullying, part vandalism, and part machismo.

The theory was that these younger males wanted to mate, but the females knew that they weren’t ready. Females only allow the largest and the strongest to mate in order to strengthen the species. While promising, these young males didn’t yet have the right stuff. As a result these sexually frustrated males violently vented on the rhinos. Two elephants seemed to be ring leaders, so a hunter was authorized to kill them. The problem didn’t stop. Other young males stepped into the void with the same behavior.

By the time the rangers figured out what was happening, technology had caught up to the point that they could bring in some larger bulls. In 1998, full grown bulls as old as 40 years old were transported. The largest being the mighty Amarula who was greeted aggressively by one of the young bulls who had previously had his way. Amarula immediately greeted him with a thrust to his stomach that lifted the younger bulls feet off the ground.

Overnight, the problem went away and order was restored. There was no more senseless killing in the park because an authority was on the scene and in charge. The bizarre and violent behavior of the juvenile elephants stopped completely. How much bizarre behavior in our culture would go away if a father figure stepped in?

Gus van Dyk, Pilanesberg Park’s field ecologist says, “I think everyone needs a role model, and these elephants had no role model and no idea of what appropriate elephant behavior was.”

We need role models who are authorities in our lives.

Not just serving as an example but demanding that we toe the line. This is a high call for men to fulfill in our culture, and it is a source of strength that boys should be forced to recognize.

To fathers and father figures: put yourselves in places where the next generation needs you. You are beyond where they are. You are stronger than they are. And, they need to be where you are. Yours is a high calling that is worth being celebrated.

Written by Brian Tome on Jun 13, 2019

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