Bethany Sexton, mother, wife and Renown Health System Vice President, thanks the fathers in her life and shares how each of them have impacted her — and how important they are in all families.
While perusing the National Fatherhood Initiative website — a nonprofit organization whose mission is to reverse the national trend of father absence — I came across study after study that demonstrated fathers’ importance in the health and well-being of children, and their long term success. Some of the findings included:
- 12 percent of children in married-couple families were living in poverty compared to 44 percent of children in mother-only families (2011).
- 24 million children in America — one out of every three — live in biological father-absent homes ( U.S. Census Bureau).
- Youths in father-absent households still had significantly higher odds of incarceration than those in mother-father families.
- Youths who never had a father in the household experienced the highest odds.
While some of the statistics are staggering it really comes as little surprise. When I think about the fathers I have in my own life, I know very personally their dramatic impact on me.
For Father’s Day, I will be celebrating the three dads I have in my life: the one I was born with, the one who came into my life along the way and the one I chose. Each of them has played a special role in my life and each has been their own unique blessing to me at different points in my life.
My dad, the one I was born with.
He instilled in me a great sense of drive and pride in work well done. And even though I consider him a transplant “Southern gentleman” with all the etiquette and deference to women, I think somewhere along the line he held out a feminist exemption especially for me. He always exposed me to the “man’s world” and empowered me to feel there was no limit to what I could do or accomplish. His support and empowerment have helped me to be self reliant, confident and resourceful.
My step father, the one who came into my life along the way.
This man broadened my awareness of the impact I have on others and the world around me. And although I didn’t necessarily seek out his input his gentle approach to self awareness and reflective authenticity has enabled me to connect with others in powerful ways.
My husband, the father of my children, the one I chose.
I learn something new every day from my husband. Not only is he my Encyclopedia Britannica (or Wikipedia for those of you in the younger generation), but he teaches through simple interactions and sacrifice. He puts others first. He is humble, caring, and incredibly patient. And is such a present father for our kids. All of these are qualities I hope to emulate but know I have a lot of room for growth.
This Father’s Day instead of barbecuing a great steak, giving tickets to a baseball game or planning a whole day of activity, I think I will be opting for the simple note of gratitude — sharing from the bottom of my heart the meaningful impact each of the fathers in my life has made.
Each of us can certainly reflect on someone in our lives who fills a positive father role even if it is not the biologic one — do you have a story or note of thanks you want to share?