I recently listened to the book, Courageous, by Randy Alcorn, which is based on the movie by the same name.
It is a story with the theme of fathers being involved in their family’s lives. The statistics surrounding this story are shocking about kids growing up without fathers:
1. 85% of those imprisoned
2. 90% of those homeless or runaways
3. 63% of those who commit suicide
4. 71% of HS dropouts
5. 40% of children whose moms and dads both attended church regularly will go on to do so in adulthood, but…
6. 2% of children whose moms attended church regularly but father did not will go on to do so in adulthood
As a single mother after the suicide of my husband, these are beyond sobering and scary statistics. The statistic about suicide is especially concerning. In a study cited on John Hopkins Children’s Center website they gave the results of a study showing that children who lost a parent to suicide are three times more likely to attempt suicide than those with living parents. Fortunately, only 3% of the children will attempt it, but that is still 3 times more risk than if their parent had stayed around. This study also cited that 7,000 to 12,000 children will lose a parent to suicide a year, so that means 210 to 360 of these children will attempt suicide compared to 70 to 120 of those with living parents.
This upsets and concerns me so much, but it also angers me. My husband chose to commit suicide to escape the consequences of his choices that were starting to come to the surface. He chose to walk away from his kids. Since I’ve learned he had had affairs throughout our marriage, I know I didn’t matter much in his thought process, but he called his kids his accomplishment in his suicide letter. How do you come to the decision to leave your boys who are just 8 and 11? I know some of the professionals have told me that they believe he was bipolar, but I also know he knew he had issues that he should have gotten help to work through. It makes me sick to think that he chose to end his life even after having his youngest son run into his arms not once, but twice to say goodbye to him that same night. He knew what they thought of him but didn’t care and, whether he knew this or not, he left them with an increased risk of making the same choice if things get rough for them.
It is so terrible, but the hardest part for me are the statistics showing the likelihood of children who will not have a life with Christ when they don’t have fathers who do. Believing in Jesus as Savior and Lord of my life is a defining characteristic of who I am. I know the freedom, love, hope, peace and exciting ventures that come from a life with Him. My top hope in my life is that both my boys will be totally sold out to Jesus in their lives.I speak to them from a biblical perspective all the time. I take them to church, we pray together, watch Christian movies and listen to Christian music, but I am not a male role model for them. They have an uncle who comes to spend time with them on a pretty regular basis. He is a Christian and I am sure he talks to them about Christ as well, but it is still only a couple to a few days a month for a few hours.
I am so thankful for this time he spends with them, but I worry because they just don’t have many male Christians, or even many men, who regularly play a role in their lives. My brothers spend time with them when we are together, but it isn’t enough time to make a huge impact. There were a couple of men who tried to get together with them for a time spend regular time, but circumstances and time constraints made it so their time with them had to end.
I didn’t realize just how much male role models in my children’s lives was bothering me until my oldest son’s theater teacher decided he was going to leave the school at the end of the year and I started crying and was pretty upset. I honestly don’t know if my son or I was more upset.
I’m not sure if there is anything I can do to fill in the gap their father left in their lives. I do whatever I can and pray all the time, but I still have times of worry. I have to rest in the knowledge that their Father in Heaven thinks so, so much of them, loves them beyond measure and hears my prayers. I will continue to seek Him in what I can do for my kids and that He will give them the men they need throughout their lives.
I wish I could see what will happen and how their lives will end up, but I can’t. The best news is that He can.
~ Joanna Lynn