June 20, 2023
How Fathers Clear the Hurdles to Finish Well for Their Children
The Post and Courier published an article on Father’s Day titled “Dads still give fewer hours at home than moms. But they also get less,” which describes national and state initiatives focused on helping dads become better fathers. Author Kelly Jean Kelly states:
“On the one hand, expectations for men in domestic life have grown dramatically in the last 50 years. Fathers spend an increasing amount of time taking care of children and doing household chores, and their role has expanded: less sole breadwinner, more teacher and comforter. On the other hand, structures to support male caregiving remain limited.”
At the South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families, the mission is optimistic:
“OUR MISSION IS TO PROVIDE THE MEANS FOR FATHERS TO BE GREAT DADS.”
Macy Gault, a legal coordinator at the Center, recently wrote an article about fatherlessness and how it has impacted families in South Carolina and in the country. The statistics are alarming.
“According to recent studies, approximately 1 in 4 children in the U.S. live without a father at home – nearly 20 million children. Sadly, the U.S. leads the world in single-parent homes (23%), compared to only 7% on average in the rest of the world. Most of these single-parent homes are father-absent homes.”
And children, writes Gault, are the ones who suffer most.
“This fatherlessness phenomenon impacts children at every level, including school drop-out rates, addictions, debilitating mental health issues, homelessness, and even prison or suicide. Most youth in prison come from fatherless homes (85%), which demonstrates the vital need for fathers to be engaged with their children in the home.”
How has this phenomenon affected families in South Carolina?
“Single-parent families in South Carolina comprise 41% of households in the state, the second largest in the country. Studies confirm there is a strong correlation between the prevalence of fatherlessness and median household income. Of the 10 South Carolina counties with the highest percent of fatherless homes, eight of them also have the lowest average income.”
Kelly interviewed the Center’s president, Karriem Edwards, about the role his and similar organizations are having in helping dads and their families.
“What Edwards and many other fatherhood advocates would like dads to have is something more profound: encouragement,” she writes.
“When I go to our local organizations and talk to a dad, I usually try to wear a suit, shine my shoes,” Edwards said. “I’ll say, ‘I want to congratulate you because you’re making an effort to be in the life of your child.’”
Edwards sees the long-term impact of helping dads get back on their feet. Kelly describes it as “cascading benefits to children and communities.”
“He becomes a taxpayer, possibly a homeowner. He’s taking care of his child. They’re not on free lunch, and they’re eating balanced, healthy meals. They probably have braces,” he said.
The work of the Center serves all 46 counties in South Carolina through a coalition of statewide offices that enroll men in programs that will help them regain their footing in life and a relationship with their children. Edwards estimates that there are some 50,000 fathers who are disconnected from their children in South Carolina alone.
How these fathers navigate the landscape of life and clear the hurdles they face in terms of job placement, co-parenting, child support, and much more, depends on the dedication of the staff at the Center and the local fatherhood offices day after day. They do it with great purpose — because fathers matter.
Read the entire Post and Courier Father’s Day article by Kelly Jean Kelly here. And if you would like to find out more about the programs of the South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families, click here to visit their website.
(The author, Dr. Lawrence Ford, is Director of Marketing and Communications at the South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families.)