A (Re)Vision for Fathers & Society

by Dr. Ken Canfield

I believe it’s good to plan for the future as fathers so we’re better prepared for the changes and challenges that our kids will bring our way. It’s also good to have dreams and aspirations for what we want to be, like setting high goals that motivate us to do our best. It’s a good step to take individually …

But today I’m talking about all of us—fathers as a worldwide community.

About thirty years ago, I came up with a list of dreams and visions for fathers, and maybe it’s time to revisit those. One big reason is that fatherhood as a whole is still in great need of attention. Far too many children are being raised without fathers or father figures, and many outcomes for children are still quite staggering. And we know that many of those outcomes could be greatly improved if involved, responsible dads were in the picture.

So, let’s dream together. What difference could we make if all fathers committed ourselves to doing our best for our children and championing healthy fathering wherever we go? What would happen?

First, our culture would recognize that fathers—along with mothers—play a unique and vital role. As much as leaders talk about economics, race, education and gender issues as they influence opportunities for young people, they would also acknowledge that the loving, supportive presence of a mother and father is an equally important factor which can help to solve so many social problems.

What if our culture defined real manhood based on commitment to children—where true masculinity means I give my all for the next generation?

What if employers saw it as a positive that a worker was a good family man, and as long as employees are keeping up on the job, they are encouraged to leave a little early so they can make it to their children’s games and events?

What if judges’ decisions validated fathers’ ability to care for their kids just as legitimately as mothers’?

What if men actually talked to each other about the joys and challenges they face as dads, and each one left feeling encouraged to keep doing his best?

What would you add?

I freely admit that some of these notions may be out of date. I know there are signs of progress in some areas. Also, situations are different depending on where you are and your unique situation; maybe you’ve had experiences that support the notion that we’re progressing, or maybe you mostly see signs that we’re going backwards.

But let’s imagine and dream for a bit.

If dads really stepped up and did their jobs, which social dysfunctions would diminish? Would daughters feel more secure and be less inclined to seek out attention from the wrong guys? Would drugs and alcohol have little appeal to youngsters who are loved and supervised in a caring way? Would a greater sense of belonging and affirmation at home lead fewer young people to join gangs or carry out violent acts?

Maybe it’s just pie-in-the-sky dreaming. But I have seen many promising signs and seeds of a positive fatherhood movement sprouting all across the world. And maybe the bigger truth here is this:

Something good can start with you.

… in your community, using your opportunities. Dad, make a difference where you can. Be all about committed fathering in your home and wherever you are. Stay poised and positive despite any setbacks. Affirm other dads you see who are getting it right.

Let’s all do what we can to make this dream (or your version of this dream) a reality.

How have you seen progress in the state of fatherhood during recent years? How would your dream for fatherhood in the future be different from what’s above? Please share your thoughts on our Facebook page.

Watch the replay of the Fathering Breakthrough Event

Join Dr. Ken Canfield and a handful of friends and partners as we give an update about our efforts to inspire and equip fathers all over the world.

There may be no more important work than turning the hearts of fathers to their children, and that’s what this is all about. We’re seeking to repair, rebuild and restore effective fathering for the benefit of children and families everywhere.

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