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A recent retail sales report estimated that Americans will spend approximately 11 billion dollars on Father’s Day this week. While that is welcome news to our anemic economic recovery, it is even greater news that Fatherhood is being appreciated and recognized as important in our country. More importantly to political leaders and policy makers is the fact that the decline in fatherhood and the breakup of the family is contributing to the economic problems facing our country today.

Look at some of the most recent statistics regarding the family.

Today, only 56% of children are growing up with a mom and dad in the home. Even more sobering, only 17% of children are graduating from high school with both their biological parents married and in the home. What these statistics don't tell, is the economic calamity associated with these statistics.

Costs to our country due to absent fathers are 300 billion dollars annually. Imagine 300 billion dollars. These costs include family court costs, lost revenue due to the breakup of homes, psychological costs of absent fathers, travel costs, additional housing costs, disciplinary costs associated with children, crime, and drug use.

In low income and minority communities the impact is even greater. A single parent home has a 74% likelihood of children being raised in poverty, whereas, a two parent home, the likelihood is 14%. Thus, marriage, and fathers being present in the home is one of the greatest antipoverty tools that government and policy makers can embrace.

Reeling from both economic hardships and recent wave of disasters, it is time that the state embrace efforts to promote and encourage fatherhood and the family. A simple starting point would be to partner with churches and synagogues and other houses of worship to create a public awareness campaign on the economic damage of declining fatherhood and absence of fathers in the home. In addition, the Dept. of Public Health and Mental Health could embrace a similar public awareness campaign on the impact economically and mentally on children that absent fathers create.

We need to create a curriculum for public and private schools for children to help identify factors that lead to family breakup so we stop the generational mistakes that cause the blatant lack of importance individually on parental responsibility, and fatherhood. Finally, we must create a social and cultural environment that embraces family, rather than single parenthood.

Junior high, high school and collegiate men must be taught and expected to respect women and their own role in protecting and establishing families as a social norm, rather than abuse and demean young women that they date or eventually marry.

Alabama is frequently quoted as being the heart of the Bible belt, with one of the highest number of churches per capita in America, yet we have one of the highest rates of divorce, domestic violence, and prison incarceration, all factors that are impacted by the presence of fathers in the home.

Let us pray and make fatherhood the highest calling and most sacred responsibility. Our futures depend upon it.

Joe Turnham has gained a national reputation both as a political figure and tier-one consultant to a myriad of clients. Joe’s services are in demand nationally as a consultant, speaker, political advisor and commentator. Click here to learn more about Joe.

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