There are some things in life that we take for granted, until we lose them; like our eyesight, ability to walk or our dad. My dad was a hardworking and honest man. He knew what it was to face hardship. He began farming during the depression. He was a man of faith, a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. Like many, I gained a greater appreciation for my dad after I had children of my own. Like many, I came to appreciate him even more after he was gone. As I have grown older I have learned the tremendous importance a good dad plays in the life of a child. Yet, tonight 40% of all American children will go to bed in a house where their father does not live. Before turning 18 and leaving home, more than half of the children in the United Sates will have lived a significant portion of their childhood apart from their fathers. Those are the cold hard facts.

But let me share some other statistics that make a sharp point. 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes—U.S. D.H.H.S, Bureau of the Census. 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes—Center for Disease Control. 80% of rapists motivated with displaced anger come from fatherless homes—Criminal Justice and Behavior, Vol. 14, P. 403-26. 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes—National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools. 70% of juveniles in state operated institutions come from fatherless homes—U.S. Dept. of Justice Special Report, Sept. 1988. 85% of all youths sitting in prisons grew up in a fatherless home—Fulton County Jail Populations & Texas Dept. of Corrections, 1992.

Translated, this means that children from a fatherless home are: five times more likely to commit suicide, 32 times more likely to run away, 20 times more likely to have behavior disorders, 14 times more likely to commit rape, nine times more likely to drop out of school, ten times more likely to abuse chemical substances, nine times more likely to end up in a state operated institution and 20 times more likely to end up in prison.

Take this Father’s Day to thank your dad for all he has done for you. If you are a father, be the best you know how, because you play a very important role in your children’s lives. If you are fatherless remember God wants to be a father to the fatherless. (Psalms 68:5)

Dr. Wayne Shaw (R-Grove) has been a member of the Oklahoma Senate since 2014. Prior to that he served as the senior pastor at First Christian Church, Grove, for many years.