Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fathers playing harder, having more impact

In a major development on the family front, the advocacy group Fathers and Families reports that father-headed households are on the rise across the country. Fathers and Families co-founder Robert Franklin cites the 2010 Census, which shows that single-father-headed households with children increased 27% in the decade from 2000 to 2010.  This rise in single-father-headed households shows a trend toward greater custody for dads, a welcome change in a country where fathers for generations were not expected to be much involved in raising their children -- and far too many men met those low expectations.

Increased involvement in family life by fathers has been shown to be good for everyone, especially in cases of divorce. Rather than excising a father from children's lives, hugging him closer to the bosom of family has shown to decrease depression and delinquency for kids, improve kids' social life, strengthen life-long relationships between parents and children and improve kids' performances in school and at work. As I've often remarked, "father" is a verb.  To be a father, a man has to be involved in every aspect of his children's lives -- from parent-teacher meetings to late night talks about reproductive health.  Divorce can be a painful and disrupting divide between husband and wife,  but it needn't divide children from the love and support of both their parents.

One of the greatest conflicts a parent faces is making that delicate balance between caring for and nurturing your kids and caring for and nurturing your career.  This is an especially challenging task for professional baseball players, who spend long periods of time away from home both at Spring Training and during the season for weeks at a time playing road games. As the author of an award-winning book about baseball and fatherhood (Home, Away) published by Chin Music Press, I will be discussing fatherhood in general, divorced parenting issues in particular, and adding in some compelling examples from the All-American game of baseball.  Send me your comments, experiences and criticism.  This is about Dads stepping up to the plate. Play Ball!

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