Children without dads

As I began our story time with a description of the main character a first-grader asked, ''Does he have a daddy?'' There is no longer any shame connected with not having a father, but often you can tell a child feels a void.

As a teacher my heart aches when I see women carrying the complete responsibility for child-rearing. Occasionally a grandmother has become the head of the family and children only see a parent when it's convenient. There are women who have left their children. But in nine years of teaching I have come in contact with only three families deserted by mothers, while many of my students are without fathers.

I am aware that some fathers in broken marriages see their children and meet their financial needs. Certainly these men are making an attempt to let their children know they still have a place in their lives.

My concern is for the children who seldom, if ever, see their dads; they may not even know his name. I am constantly amazed at the men who father children and never return to see them. The child hears his mom's description of the man who has forsaken them or he hears nothing and tries to paint his, or her, own picture of what he must be like. Anyone who is a parent knows how difficult it can be to use one's time wisely and to guide youngsters correctly, even when there are two people parenting.

How can a child concentrate and be successful in school or play while not knowing what the situation will be when he returns home? When mom is trying to date again, does she give her leisure time to her children or her friends?

One of the greatest needs in schools today is for families to provide an atmosphere of caring and trust needed to produce reasonably well-adjusted children. There will still be problems, even unsatisfactory grades, but the child will know he is responsible to two people who have been with the child from the very beginning.

Let's get serious about doing all we can to preserve the family. A child is a blessing to be treated with gentle love and discipline, and to be led to and through education. Children need mothers and fathers who care enough to make a commitment to being parents.

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