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Fathers not just Wallets They Have been Proven to be an Irreplaceable Influence on Children's Development

Original articles at bottom. These letters are from

Good job, one and all!
Father’s Day: Current state of Fatherhood
by Armstrong Williams
As Father’s Day 2006 approaches I am absolutely devastated about the current state of fatherhood in this country. It is terribly troubling that our society accepts fatherhood as a luxury, not a necessity. An involved, loving, active father has become the exception in this country, and it’s time we make it the norm again.
There are some things that only a father can provide his children. Although a mother is vital to a child’s development, there are some activities that a dad just makes perfect. Shooting baskets or going ice skating becomes more than a bonding experience between father and child. It becomes a moment when boys learn how to carry themselves as men, how to strive for a goal, work hard, and strengthen their male personality. It becomes a moment when daughters learn how a man should properly treat a woman, interact with males, try their best, overcome adversity, and strive for their potential. There is little in life that can simulate these fathers – child moments that turn ordinary days into treasured lifelong memories.
Like most loving fathers, my father expected a lot out me and my siblings. He constantly encouraged me and pushed me to reach my potential, but occasionally - and only when necessary - he would use his lash to get my attention. His stern face or grave words would let me know that my behavior or attitude was out of line. My healthy fear for him in these rare moments kept me focused on living a healthy productive life. I remember his strong grip as he taught me to shake hands like a gentleman, I remember his huge arms wrapping me tight after tough Little League losses, and I remember my Father’s extraordinary courage to do the right thing regardless of the situation. I would never be where I am today without my mother, but my father taught me how to be a man.
An active father does more than help his son grow into a man or daughter grow into a woman. He provides the spiritual leadership that every family needs. My father taught me how to handle difficult situations by keeping perspective. He taught me that faith comes first. Family comes second, then friends, after that, its education and vocation. My father taught me to rely on God and trust that He would protect me as I walked through the “shadow of the valley of death,” or faced unexpected hardships in my life. And more than just teaching it, my father lived it. I saw him read the Bible daily, pray habitually, and attend and participate at church every Sunday. My father provided the spiritual leadership that the Bible calls for, and I believe this kind of leadership should ideally be handled by a man. Regardless of the religion, this cannot be done properly if the father is absent.
Kids can truly achieve so much more when their father is present and active in their everyday lives. Studies have repeatedly shown that a two parent household with active parents is the key to a child’s development. Certainly many, many children of one parent households have gone on to great things, but they shouldn’t have to. The idea that a father’s presence is a luxury needs to change. Even if the parents divorce, a father should be present for every sporting event, every school activity, and all the ordinary moments that define a child’s early life. Divorce or separation is no excuse for a father to stay away or reduce his involvement in the children’s development. In fact, in the sad case of separation, a father should become more involved, because the children desperately need positive influences during divorce proceedings.
As we celebrate Father’s Day this year, we should praise the men who are true fathers - the men who willingly involve themselves in their children’s lives. We should thank them for their love and dedication, and be proud of their achievements. However, we must also call attention to the cowards who father a child but never become a true dad. We need to take a hard look at why these fathers run out on their families and abandon their children. We cannot lower our standards by ignoring these dead-beat-dads and considering them the norm. We cannot overlook the problem or sweep it under a rug. Our children are too important, and they need their father. If they are to reach their highest potential, it will be with the help of their father.
William Armstrong can be reached at
Father’s day respond
Dear Editor,

The media has 364 days to blast fathers. There is one day, Fathers Day, set aside to honor them.

Armstrong Williams is absolutely devastated about the current state of fatherhood - and I am devastated at him for blaming men. Somebody tell Williams that women, not men, typically file for divorce. Somebody tell Williams that judges typically delegate the father to a first, third and fifth weekend visitor; it is not the father’s choice.

Williams writes that “Even if the parents divorce, a father should be present for every sporting event, every school activity, and all the ordinary moments that define a child’s early life.” Yes, a divorced father should - but many don’t; and here is the reason.

Schools send a note in the student’s backpack - or they call the custodial parent - for all things academic. Noncustodial parents are left out of the loop from school portraits to PTA announcements, from discipline problems to grades. And only after repeated requests, do schools notify the noncustodial dad of anything.
Such notification needs to be automatic. It needs to be written into every school handbook: “Schools shall make every effort to involve both parents.”

Then I turned to Attorney General Gregg Abbott’s essay, “In honor of Fathers,” and I became more devastated. In his politically correct double-speak, Abbott celebrates and praises dads before getting to his point; the same point he makes 52 weeks every year: “Parents who are behind on their child support are given three choices: enroll in the program, make a payment or go to jail.”

One thing about Abbott, he is consistent. He never gives up on his quest to extract the maximum amount of money from every noncustodial father. And for every dollar he collects, he receives a bigger budget from Washington. Abbott brags about his programs:
Building Strong and Healthy Families in Texas works to establish legal paternity, the Paternity Opportunity Program gives unmarried fathers the opportunity to acknowledge paternity, and the Choices Project targets noncustodial parents all for one reason - so the Attorney General can collect more child support.

Abbott praises his office because they awarded federally funded grants to 12 private nonprofit organizations. But these Access and Visitation grants generally go to Supervised Visitation Centers who often seek to perpetuate the alienation initiated by a vindictive mother.

It is time to give divorced dads a break. Schools should be required to notify noncustodial parents of every aspect of their child’s academic life. The AG should enforce Dad’s period of possession with the same zeal he enforces Mom’s receipt of child support. The concept of 50/50 shared custody - and no one pays anyone child support - should be the norm in custody decisions.

If this type of break is just too much to ask, please give the notion of fatherhood a break on Fathers Day. Dads deserve better.

Don Mathis
Sherman, Texas
Devastation on Fathers Day
As Fathers Day approaches I too am devastated by the state of fatherhood in America, devastated by the number of fathers who kill themselves every single year because that was the only recourse they believed they had in the face of loss of their children, their homes and their income, with jail looming for them on the horizon; devastated by bully judges who worry only about bullet proof windows rather than helping children have fair access to their fathers; devastated by our national presumption that dad and deadbeat are synonyms; devastated by smug people like Mr. Williams who write editorials that trivialize the true suffering of fatherhood in America. Yes, me too. I am devastated too.
Jim Carmine
Armstrong Williams cannot Speak to Fatherhood Today
In honor of Fathers
by Attorney General Gregg Abbott
June 18 is a day to celebrate and thank dads for a job well done. Across Texas, from the Panhandle to the Rio Grande Valley, dads will celebrate fatherhood with their children. I will spend the day with my daughter, who will thank me in some special way for being her dad.

Like other fathers, I strive to be a good dad and to provide my daughter with the financial and emotional support she needs. Parenting is hard work, but the benefits to our children are endless.

This Father’s Day, the employees of the Division for Families and Children and I extend our sincere thanks to all fathers for giving their children the love and support only a dad can provide. You are the unsung heroes in your children’s lives.
Over the last several years, there has been a steadily growing emphasis on the positive impact of engaged, caring fathers. Research about a father’s influence has confirmed what so many of us know to be true - fathers really do make a difference. Children with dads who actively participate in their lives perform better in school, are more self confident, are more likely to exercise self-control, and less likely to engage in risky behaviors as teens.

Our Child Support program collected a record $1.8 billion in child support last year, and most of the money came from fathers. However, a father’s contribution to his child’s well-being involves much more than money. Children deserve the security that comes from knowing their fathers care enough to provide emotional as well as financial support.

Over the last several years, the Division for Families and Children has increased its commitment to fathers by recognizing the important and irreplaceable role they play in shaping their children’s lives. Several notable programs to serve fathers include:
Building Strong and Healthy Families in Texas is designed to increase the number of new, unmarried parents who enter into stable family and marital relationships. The project, which is in Houston and San Angelo, also works to establish legal paternity for the unmarried parents’ children and to provide knowledge and skills necessary to fulfill parental responsibilities.