I wish I could offer my father some kind of tribute today. Let him know of the great job he did and how much I respect him. But I can’t. I didn’t have one. The guy took off as soon as my mom told him she was pregnant.
This is my first father’s day.
In days past I have offered well wishes to the father of my wife, Richelle, and to my little brother, who in many ways, is someone I look up to, a great dad of two bright, amazing boys.
I hope I follow the examples they’ve set for me.
Today I’d like to offer thanks to all those fathers who stick around and try their best to be a force in their children’s lives.
And to shout out at those who have run from their responsibilities – your children need you.
Senators Evan Bayh and Barack Obama have a piece in the Inquirer on legislation they are proposing that will help those trying to do the right thing and punish those that don’t:
Today, too many men seem to think that fatherhood ends at conception. These men, so many of them still so young, leave mothers to bear the brunt of being both mom and dad, forcing them to face the challenges of raising a child and providing for the family on their own.
These women often perform this role heroically, but the statistics tell us what so many of them already know – that children are better off when their father is also involved.
Children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime. They are nine times more likely to drop out of school, five times more likely to commit suicide, and 20 times more likely to end up in prison. They are more likely to have behavioral problems, to run away from home, and to become teenage parents themselves.
So the question is: What do we do as a nation to solve this problem? How do we make sure that these boys start acting like men?
First, we will need a change in attitude. We will need to realize that government can’t legislate responsibility – that change can’t come just from Washington. As fathers, we need to teach our boys that having a child doesn’t make you a man – that what makes you a man is having the courage to raise a child.
But what government can do is to make it easier for those who make that courageous choice – and to make it harder for those who avoid it. The legislation we are introducing, called “The Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families Act,” will provide support for fathers who are trying to do the right thing in making child-support payments by providing them with job training and job opportunities and expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit. It also stops penalizing marriage in the tax code, and makes sure that children and mothers, not the government, receive every penny of child support.
At the same time, it cracks down on men who are ignoring their parental responsibilities by increasing child-support enforcement to $4.9 billion over 10 years, a measure that will collect nearly $20 billion in payments that can help raise, nurture and educate children.