Caroline Barnett is the Executive Director of the Dream Center Foundation, and Co-Pastor of the Los Angeles Dream Center and Angelus Temple Church alongside her husband Matthew Barnett. The Los Angeles Dream Center is a faith-based non-profit dedicated to transforming the lives of individuals and families in the City of Los Angeles through residential and outreach programs. What started out as a desire to serve those in need, has now grown with their leadership into a global movement of love and service with nearly 100 Dream Centers helping communities worldwide. To learn more about the work of the Dream Center, click here.
Once every year we dedicate a day to remember our fathers. I’m glad we do. The role of a father is irreplaceable.
My own dad has been a priceless gift over the course of my life. I love him dearly. He’s always been a safe place to run to; someone I could lean on when life was hard.
The sad truth is, not everyone has fond memories when their dad comes to mind. Some don’t have any memories at all.
With every passing year in America, we are finding more and more families in a fatherhood crisis. The percentage of children living in homes without a father has more than tripled since 1960. We’ve seen this for ourselves at the Dream Center in Los Angeles, and it has affected people of every race and demographic across the board.
As a pastor, I am not shy about speaking up on the importance of fathers as leaders and protectors in the home. But the data alone is convincing enough.
Teenagers who grow up with uninvolved or absent fathers are an astounding 250 percent more likely to end up in prison than those who grow up with two parents in the home. We find that this is a common pattern with the teenagers in our Foster Youth Home, and even with the adults in our recovery programs. Conversely, a study in Ohio showed that kids were 64% less likely to be held back in school if they lived in a home with married parents.
The negative consequences for children and families with an absent father continue to mount up. Children without a dad at home search for love, leadership and belonging in other places. They are more likely to get trapped in a cycle of drug use, commit suicide, perform poorly in school, endure child abuse, join a gang, or end up impoverished and homeless than a child who lives with mom and dad.
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