Fathers have been in the news a lot this year; sometimes for good and sometimes their actions have not been exemplary. But there is a lesson in each news story for fathers who are committed to their families and their important role.
Earlier in the year, MSNBC showed a documentary entitled A Father's Promise
. In 1996, the network aired a program called Labor Day in which three sets of black unmarried fathers and mothers were interviewed when their new babies were born. The fathers committed to be involved in their child's lives. Now, 12 years later, Al Roker found the children involved and discovered that these fathers had not kept their promises. And while the children have grown up well to this point, largely to the credit of their mothers, the documentary showed that each of them stand on the brink of major decisions in life, and without the guidance of a father.
I've blogged frequently about the physical and emotional benefits associated with fatherhood, but a new study covered in Miller-McCune
magazine suggests that there are physical and chemical changes that occur when a man becomes a father that make him "sharper, more resilient and more motivated." Read this fascinating article and see if you agree that fatherhood makes a man better than he was before.
CNN host Roland Martin has written a pretty provocative column about fatherlessness and the need for fathers to step up to their responsibility. His comments come following an interview with baseball star Darryl Strawberry about his troubled growing up years with an abusive father. Martin shares his own perspectives about fathers in the media and concludes:
The failure of manhood in America -- fatherhood -- has reached epidemic proportions. And unless our religious and cultural institutions say enough is enough, we are going to see another generation of children growing up with dad absent and unaccounted for.
One of the consequences of the global economic slowdown has been more dads shifting into stay at home father roles. This article from Wisconsin's Wausau Daily Herald
chronicles the situation of one such dad, Jack Buksa.
Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted an event at the White House intended to start a "national conversation on responsible fatherhood and healthy families." Read the New York Times article
about the President's speech and you can read the speech itself
from this Fatherhood Town Hall meeting.
I, for one, am excited to see a man in the White House who recognizes his role, as the New York Times put it, as father-in-chief. I welcome the national discussion on responsible fatherhood and hope it will lead to a better and broader view of the role of fathers in our nation's families.
In July, the world reacted with sorrow at the untimely death of pop star Michael Jackson. At least in the US, having a young child speak at her father's funeral is a bit unusual, but Michael Jackson's daughter Paris did an admirable job.
"I just wanted to say, ever since I was born, daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine! I just wanted to say I love him so much."
Check out pictures from the Jackson memorial service
and read a short biography
of the King of Pop.
CBS News' longtime Evening News Anchor Walter Cronkite
passed away in July at age 92. Cronkite was the epitome of journalistic integrity, and was known for decades as the "most trusted man in America." He and his wife Betsy were married for 65 years
until she died four years ago. Cronkite is survived by his three children, Nancy, Kathy and Walter III "Chip"; and four grandchildren. Our hearts go out to his family in the loss of their father and grandfather. He will be remembered by many Americans as a fatherly figure in our lives and at critical moments in American history.
In August, we noted with sadness the passing for Senator Edward Kennedy, who, through tragedy after tragedy, became the patriarch of one of the most influential political families in American history. I thought it might be of interest to note the impact of the next generation of Kennedys and see the influence of this elder statesman on the lives of his children, nieces and nephews.
This story was so impressive to me. Two men with the same names, PFC Alonzo Branch Jr. and Sergeant Alonzo Branch, are serving in the Army at Camp Taji in Iraq. In this case, they are related - father and son. They share a bond not only through their family relationship but also in their military service. Read the article about these two incredible soldiers and the opportunity they have to serve together in Iraq.
In October, I remember driving to a meeting about an hour away and was listening to live coverage of the saga of the Heene family in Colorado and the thought that their six year old son Falcon was aboard a balloon that he had inadvertently launched in Colorado. As the world watched the story unfold, this balloon, used for storm experiments, floated across the Colorado sky, finally landing about 50 miles from home. After landing, the compartment under the balloon was empty, fueling speculation that six-year-old Falcon had fallen from the balloon in flight. Instead, fearing his father's reaction to untethering the balloon, Falcon hid in a box in the attic.
I suspect we have all read with interest and occasionally morbid curiosity about the accident involving Tiger Woods and the avalanche of new revelations and allegations about extramarital affairs. People seem to almost take delight in the seeming fall of a popular and successful figure in politics, sports or other endeavors. And the media storm around Tiger Woods and his family has been no different; if anything, these incidents become more and more public.