George Bowers Sr.: Driving without a windshield
Imagine driving your vehicle without its windshield. Your automobile doesn’t need this large sheet of glass to function properly; for the engine will still run, the wheels will still rotate, and you can still get from place to place without it. But it will definitely affect your trip. Not only will every manner of insect and bird implant on your face, but the force of the oncoming air will make it difficult both to see and to breathe. Speeds will be drastically reduced, the enjoyment of your ride greatly hampered, and most trips will be kept to a minimum due to the inconvenience and risks. In some cases, the absence of this protective component will inevitably cause accidents as road debris and bumblebees distract and injure drivers.
So too, when a father is removed from a child’s life, wrecks are inevitable and the effects are significant. In most cases, the little boys and girls will continue to live and grow, but research clearly demonstrates that a father’s absence negatively affects his children in substantial ways.
For example, fatherless children are nine times more likely to drop out of high school and nine times more likely to end up in a mental institution. If that doesn’t affect your driving, consider that they are also 20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders and more likely to end up in prison at the same rate. Children without fathers present are 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances, 14 times more likely to commit rape, and 32 times more likely to run away from home. Saddest of all, these kids are five times more likely to take their own lives than those with who have fathers present.
In a day when many are concerned about poverty, it is telling to note that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has determined that children living in female-headed families with no husband present had a poverty rate over four times higher than that for married-couple families. It is clear that living without dad is certainly possible, but it definitely impacts the children in the backseat.
Other studies show that adolescents in father-absent homes were more sexually active compared to those living with their fathers and that being raised by a single mom increases the risk of teen pregnancy, marrying with less than a high school degree, and forming a marriage where neither partner has a high school diploma. All of these factors decisively contribute to poverty and its associated problems. We’re driving without windshields, experiencing all manner of negative consequences, and pretending nothing is amiss.
There are many causative factors for absentee fatherhood, but none of them justify the harm that is being inflicted on the children. I’m not writing to bring guilt or shame, but if we keep failing to recognize the importance of fathers, we’ll continue to injure our kids who must deal with the pain and consequences. As a culture, it is time we acknowledge the harm our lifestyles are perpetrating on our children and take steps to put the windshields back in our cars.
I want to thank all the dads who are fulfilling their God-given roles in their homes and encourage you to keep doing so, even as life’s pressures continue to make this increasingly difficult. You are a vital component to your family and your children and you are even more crucial to them than a windshield is to a car. I also want to encourage mothers to help keep fathers securely in place for the sake of the children and our society.
Our state inspection stations would never allow a vehicle on the road without a windshield and no home should ever be without a father, if at all possible. Let’s recognize the critical role fathers play, thank God for giving them to us, and seek to fulfill the roles he’s assigned. Happy Father’s Day! George
George Bowers Sr. is the senior pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock and the author of seven books, including his devotional collection, “Blessings.” He can be reached through www.georgebowersministries.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org.