The importance of fathers

Fathers contribute to a child's development

This Father's Day, you can help FH help fathers care for their families.

The month of June is when Americans celebrate Father’s Day. And FH likes to expand that celebration to fathers all over the world. But finding fathers can be difficult where FH works, because many fathers must migrate for work. making them absent from their homes for months at a time.

African father and son

Research shows the negative impact of fathers migrating away from families to find work.

I found an article that was co-authored by Abdul Khaleque and Ronald P. Rohner of the University of Connecticut and published in the May 2012 issue of the scientific journal, Personality and Social Psychology Review. The article reported on an international study of 11,000 parents and children over a 50-year period.

One of the many conclusions the authors reached was that children often feel rejected when one or both of their parents are absent from the home. That perceived rejection has a longer-term negative impact on a child than any other type of experience. This is especially true if the child feels rejected by the parent who seems to have the most prestige.

In developing countries, where men typically are thought to have more value than women, an absent father equates to monumental feelings of rejection among children. The results include depression, behavior problems, difficulty having positive relationships, poor performance in school and chronic poverty.

FH’s work often has the impact of keeping fathers at home rather than migrating to far-off locations to support their families.

For example, we work through social networks called cascade groups. One type of cascade group is a savings group. Men and women meet regularly to learn about business, savings and financial management. For the first time in their lives, people are able to save money, start or expand a business and progress beyond mere survival.

Asian Family

An intact, happy family unit contributes to a community's development.

Another kind of cascade group is care groups, where mothers get together to learn how to better care for their children so they can thrive.

In both types of groups, people learn to work together for a common good. FH is able to replicate the work time and again by teaching individuals to lead groups of 10 to 20 people. This frees FH staff to provide instruction, oversight and feedback to impact more families, especially children, within the community.

Yobo, a mother in Kenya whose husband could only find a job 472 miles away from home, is an example of the kind of success we’re seeing through cascade groups.

Yobo learned so much in her care group that it gave her the self-confidence to push for community-wide improvements. She was instrumental in bringing water to her community, and her struggling garden flourished into an income-producing farm. Her husband was able to stay home to farm rather than migrate for employment.

This Father’s Day, you can help FH help fathers to be a constant, positive influence in their homes, contributing to the overall well-being of their families. Please pray for our ongoing efforts to strengthen families. And, if God leads, consider giving to FH programs that help communities identify and overcome the challenges that keep them locked in poverty, such as absent fathers.

About Karen Randau

A native of the southwestern U.S., Karen uses her blog posts to put into action her passion for helping people be all that God intended them to be. She is able to do this through her role in the Food for the Hungry communications department of the Global Service Center in Phoenix in two ways. First, she helps people understand the plight faced by impoverished people in developing nations. Second, she brings light to the successful ways Food for the Hungry is helping people.

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