Our Views: Hailing work of fathers

Last month, The Advocate published a story about eight women who were arrested because of truancy violations by their children. No fathers in these cases were arrested, authorities said, because there were no men’s names listed on any of the children’s school records.

We’ve been haunted by the thought of those absent fathers since that story appeared. Today, as another Father’s Day arrives, we should all reflect on the importance of good fathers in the lives of children — and what can happen when those fathers aren’t around.

Many single mothers do a great job of raising children into successful adults, even when no father is in the picture. But fatherless families face extra challenges, and no society should accept the widespread absence of fathers from their children’s lives as an acceptable condition.

Children in father-absent homes are almost four times more likely to be poor, according to statistics compiled by the National Fatherhood Initiative, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group that promotes fatherhood. In 2011, 12 percent of children in married-couple families were living in poverty, compared to 44 percent of children in mother-only families. The absence of fathers is also strongly connected to higher rates of teen pregnancy, drug abuse, juvenile delinquency and a number of other issues.

Today is a day to celebrate fathers who are active and present in their children’s lives, and to hope for a wider community of fathers who have strong relationships with their sons and daughters.

The nurture and support of fathers is an important part of our community’s strength — and the strength of societies around the globe.