Potomac Local: D.J. Jordan speaks on the importance of fathers
By Darrell H. “D.J.” Jordan Jr.
Father’s Day is one of my favorite days of the year, hands down!
It’s great. Everyone treats me like a King. I can do no wrong. And I can do one of my favorite things – eat lots of great food! …with my family, of course.
But let’s not let another Father’s Day pass without analyzing how fathers and families are doing in our community.
For the past several years, I have volunteered with the Prince William County Fatherhood Initiative, a program that help dads do what’s in the best interest of their children. Unfortunately, programs like this are needed because we have millions of children in our nation that grow up without engaged fathers.
The statistical impact of fatherlessness is clear: children without an engaged father are four times more likely to live in poverty, two times more likely to drop out of high school, and seven times more likely to become pregnant as a teen. Young people from father-absent homes are 279% more likely to illegally carry guns and deal drugs than peers living with their fathers.
Absent fathers not only have an impact on our individual households, they have an impact on our public safety and public policy. When families and children falter, the government tries to step in to help or fill the need.
This is not a partisan issue. Leaders from all political backgrounds have raised the alarm about this issue. President George W. Bush once said, “Not only are fathers essential to the healthy development of children, they also influence the strength of families and the stability of communities.” President Obama once said, “What makes you a man is not the ability to make a child, it’s the courage to raise one.”
Fellow men, we must step up. It’s a shame that so many mothers are being left to raise and provide for children without assistance from fathers. It doesn’t matter if you’re married to your kids’ mom or not, you have a responsibility not only to your children, but a responsibility to your community to take care of your child.
Last month, I released a set of policy ideas that will help vulnerable children and families in Prince William and Fauquier Counties, as well as Virginians across the Commonwealth. The policy agenda included solutions for fatherlessness, but also other issues impacting families: foster care, human trafficking, poverty, and criminal justice.
Currently, Virginia only has fatherhood programs in a few counties across the Commonwealth. I believe we need to increase investment in them across Virginia. The programs include support groups around topics such as the impact of fatherlessness, healthy co-parenting, conflict resolution, effective discipline, and successful financial management. The men who graduate from these programs become better more confident and engaged dads. Investment in programs like these lead to more stable families, as they deal with root causes of the problem, rather than trying to treat a symptom.
Our nation, state, and local communities are only as strong as our families. It is my hope that our state government isn’t just judged simply by how much money we spend on assistance programs, but rather if these programs actually work to help people escape poverty or vulnerable situations, to reach their full potential for themselves and their families.
CLICK HERE to read the op-ed on Potomac Local’s website.