Where are the fathers?

I am a high school teacher, and I deal with teenagers on a daily basis. I love young people, partly because I’m still young myself and partly because I love how fresh their minds are.

However, I am often saddened by how disrespectful and down right rude some teenage boys can be. I know that girls aren’t all daisies and sunshine either, but from my experience, I’ve only had behavior issue with boys.

This leads me to believe that they do not have fathers who are present. Let me clarify, I know that there are some that definitely do not have fathers in their lives due to abandonment and even death. However, there are still some fathers who are still in their lives whether they live in the same house or are divorced or were never married to their mothers, but still have contact with their sons. Some of these fathers who are around in my opinion are still not present.

Being present is being involved in your child’s life not just being in it. It is showing active support and guidance. It is raising your child either with the help of another parent or just on your own. It’s knowing their friends, where they are, what they like, how they are doing in school. It is teaching them how to respect others and themselves.

I lost my father two months before I entered high school. I’ve done OK, in the last several years, but it would have been nice have had that fatherly guidance through some very dark and lonely times. I feel that my self-esteem would have been better, my likelihood for depression would have been lessened.

It is important for young boys to learn from their fathers how to live. Men need to teach their sons the things that they can only learn from their fathers.

I found some dizzying statistics about children who have absent fathers.

Children reared by a divorced or never-married mother are less cooperative and score lower on tests of intelligence than children reared in intact families. Statistical analysis of the behavior and intelligence of these children revealed “significant detrimental effects” of living in a female-headed household. Growing up in a female-headed household remained a statistical predictor of behavior problems even after adjusting for differences in family income. [1]

 

I was raised through high school by my mom, and I never once got in trouble for anything. However, I was never really a child with behavior issues prior to my father’s departure from this world. I was also a great student and graduated 4th in my class. So I would imagine that there were some students who were involved in this statistic that were exceptional. However, the majority is what speaks.

Children with fathers at home tend to do better in school, are less prone to depression and are more successful in relationships. Children from one-parent families achieve less and get into trouble more than children from two parent families. [2]

 

I would argue that just having fathers at home is not enough. I reiterate, fathers need to be involved.

 

In a longitudinal study of 1,197 fourth-grade students, researchers observed “greater levels of aggression in boys from mother-only households than from boys in mother-father households.” [3]

 

I have witnessed this first hand as a teacher. Even the children that I have not caught fighting, I have witnessed them being passive aggressive with others.

I have students who have both mom and dad at home who often choose to behave poorly. I also have many, many, many more students who have both mom and dad at home who’ve never chosen to behave poorly in any of my classes. This is why  I believe so strongly that dad needs to be fully present. Children act out no matter how old they are if they feel they are not getting the adequate attention from their fathers.

“Father hunger” often afflicts boys age one and two whose fathers are suddenly and permanently absent. Sleep disturbances, such as trouble falling asleep, nightmares, and night terrors frequently begin within one to three months after the father leaves home. [4]

 

If you are a dad, step it up. Know your kid’s soul. If you need some adjustment, that’s fine. No one is perfect, and your kid will love you even if you just try.

Moms, if you are raising kids on your own. God bless you and keep you strong. If their fathers are willing and aren’t bad guys, let them be in your kids life. If you don’t have someone to offer male guidance, check out some of the links below.

I hope to see a strong swing in the pendulum  for this next generation. My generation and a little younger have been called the fatherless generation, and that is heart-breaking. Fathers provide a strong and steady guidance that when presented through love can change lives. I hope to see my students who have broken relationships with their dads mend what is lost, rise to the challenge and become true men of honor and courage instead of falling by the wayside only to fall victim of another statistic.

There are some organizations that are created for the purpose of mentoring:

http://www.boystomen.org/

http://www.bbbs.org/site/c.9iILI3NGKhK6F/b.5962335/k.BE16/Home.htm

http://www.caresmentoring.org/

Sources

[1]  Greg L. Duncan, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn and Pamela Kato Klebanov, “Economic Deprivation and Early Childhood Development,” Child Development 65 (1994).

[2] One Parent Families and Their Children: The School’s Most Significant Minority, conducted by The Consortium for the Study of School Needs of Children from One Parent Families, co sponsored by the National Association of Elementary School Principals and the Institute for Development of Educational Activities, a division of the Charles F. Kettering Foundation, Arlington, VA., 1980

[3] N. Vaden-Kierman, N. Ialongo, J. Pearson, and S. Kellam, “Household Family Structure and Children’s Aggressive Behavior: A Longitudinal Study of Urban Elementary School Children,” Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 23, no. 5 (1995)

[4]  Alfred A. Messer, “Boys Father Hunger: The Missing Father Syndrome,” Medical Aspects of Human Sexuality, January 1989.

My Slowly Overcoming of Depression

I am a spiritual person, and I consider everything in life to be impacted by spirituality.

If you disagree, that is perfectly fine. I just want to establish my perspective on all things that occur in this life.

Not only am I spiritual, I identify myself as a Christian. A follower of Christ. My whole life is based upon this perspective.

Yesterday I briefly wrote about about my feelings on depression. I have battled severe depression for years. There really is not a time in my life that I can remember not being depressed.

Like many, my depression can be traced back to my childhood where there were many hurts that did not properly heal. Similar to a shattered bone that never heals back quite the same, so is a child’s heart that has been gravely wounded.

My journey with depression took a turn for the worst over three years ago. I was in a car wreck that totaled my car and left me with a crooked spine. Through chiropractic therapy my back finally healed, but my emotions were shaken.

Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects millions yet often goes undiagnosed. When mentioned, visions of war torn minds trapped in soldiers bodies typically flood our sight. However, PTSD can affect anyone that experiences anything traumatic. Being attacked by a dog, falling down a flight of stairs, being in a car crash, all of these can trigger anxious feelings and nervous reactions to situations most people would breeze through without a thought.

I was a victim of PTSD. This crash wrecked me for riding with anyone in a car. I still freak out when my husband doesn’t slow down when I think he should. However, the PTSD wasn’t the only thing that was crippling me. Along with it flared up suppressed feelings of depression and anxiety. I tried to battle it on my own, but it was pointless. I failed almost every class I was taking that following semester because I could not handle going to classes. I dealt with insomnia for three and a half years, and I cried almost every night.

My husband, then fiance’, as you can imagine was sick with worry, and he tried everything he could. Finally about a year and a half ago, I became very suicidal. I was constantly plagued with self-destructive thoughts. I took a fist full of pills one night hoping to end it all, but I woke up nearly 18 hours later groggy and completely out of it. I didn’t want to die, but I didn’t want to live with such internal pain.

About a week after that incident, I had an emotional breakdown at my mom’s house. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back. My husband, then fiance’, gave me an ultimatum. He told me to either go to counseling or he was going to have me committed.

I opted for counseling. It was so difficult taking that first step into the office, and I didn’t really talk for crying, but it was nice to have some thought of eventual relief. After sifting through different counselors, I finally found a counselor at a church that I was working at. She was kind and spoke the truth. I was counseled in this ministry for about 5 months, and it saved my life.

I was not completely healed at this place, but it really opened my eyes to how I viewed myself, my family, and God. I had to move away from the town I was in. I started my first after college job, got married, and was doing better. However, I was struggling to just enjoy anything.

So, I knew that I had to find a counselor. My husband and I both wanted separate counseling for ourselves so we found husband and wife counselors who use a specific program to teach you about who you are in Christ. It’s completely grace centered, and full of insightful information.

I didn’t connect with my counselor like my husband did with his, but I did enjoy the material we were covering. I completed the course and was really busy with work, so I was feeling fine.

However, after summer was over, and I was back in school (I’m a teacher), I slowly began to feel completely overwhelmed and stressed out. My depression was rearing its ugly head again, however, I was ready to fight it.

I hate taking medication for anything. I DID NOT want to take anti-depressants. AT ALL. I was completely against the idea. I was taught in church growing up that you need to have faith that God would heal you. And that is great, and I fully believe that He can. I’m not one to put God in a box. However, for me, it was something that had to break my pride. I had to ask for help. I had to admit that I was in desperate need of assistance. God allowed man the common grace to create medicines and many of them help. So I finally caved in and asked for some medication.

I had several counselors and my doctor all tell me that if I could just get a little serotonin boost that it would help my brain to regulate my emotions. I didn’t notice a difference right away, but I at least felt more stable.

Something came up and I’ve had to stop taking my medicine, which has slapped me in the face. I’ve been a little more emotional than normal, but that has seemed to have leveled off in just the last week.

I was praying this weekend for God to touch my heart, to renew me. Last night when I came home from work, I began singing, I as I often do. I started to sing this song I had learned a very long time ago. It’s about putting on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.

I couldn’t remember much about the song so I decided to look it up, and as the music started playing, my heart broke. I could feel the Holy Spirit healing my brokenness. I began to praise Him and sing through tearful sobs, and I could feel joy starting to rise inside of me again to the point I ended up dancing around our house.

I know that I still have a long way to go, but there is hope. There is joy.

Isaiah 61:3

To grant [consolation and joy] to those who mourn in Zion—to give them an ornament (a garland or diadem) of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment [expressive] of praise instead of a heavy, burdened, and failing spirit—that they may be called oaks of righteousness [lofty, strong, and magnificent, distinguished for uprightness, justice, and right standing with God], the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.

Thoughts on depression…

It sucks.

Not enjoying anything.

Plunging deeper into the dark crevasses of my mind.

Self-destructive thoughts.

Crying.

It’s annoying.

Never finding joy.

Feeling  alone even when someone is sitting next to you.

Being rendered incapable to doing to meager tasks.

There is hope.

Psalms 40:1-3 I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.

Deuteronomy 31:8 “… It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

Psalms 34:17 When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.