Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The effects of irresponsible fatherhood

Deadbeat dads leave moms,

children scrambling for shelter

Sunday, April 19, 2009
Shelbyville, Tennessee
Shelbyville Times-Gazette
Hat tip: Brian Mosely

Since the beginning of the year, the county's CROSS shelter has been taking in folks that don't have a roof over their heads and is currently at full capacity.

But two incidents over the past week have organizer Dr. Carl Bailey looking at getting with authorities about cracking down on deadbeat dads -- because their irresponsibility has resulted in three children sleeping at the shelter just in the past week.

"We are anticipating encouraging local authorities to work with us to determine where these fathers are that are just not helping out," he said.

Bailey said one woman had come to them several nights ago with a 11-year-old daughter and another woman had no choice but to stay at the shelter with two girls -- ages 3 and 6.

The woman with the pre-teen receives "everything they can" from public assistance, Bailey said, but the ex-husband "is apparently not in the picture at all."

"We're hoping to work with the right agencies in town to locate them and hold them accountable," Bailey said. He's hoping to help authorities with location information so that the fathers can be found and hopefully made to pay up.

"These men are fathering children and not taking care of them," Bailey said.

Lack of help

Bailey explained that the woman with the two youngsters has a husband in Murfreesboro who has made "several promises to help, but he never comes through."

For the past year, this family's landlord has come through for them instead, by allowing them to fall a year behind on their rent.

However, the senior citizen who allowed the family a place to stay at no cost is unable to do so any longer, and the three were forced to come to the CROSS shelter this past week.

The husband had promised to being the family a check so they could stay in their home a while longer, but he didn't, Bailey said.

"We're not trying to chase these guys down to pay us, we're trying to get them to take care of their kids," he said. "God knows what would have happened if there was no shelter to come to."

The three kids have been sleeping on mattresses on the floor of the shelter, Bailey said.

Needs more space

Even though the shelter has been open for just less than four months, Bailey is seeing more and more of these type situations with mothers left out in the cold with their young children, which creates another dilemma -- the shelter has a limited capability to take a family in.

"Right now, to put a family in a room in the small shelter we have, I have to put out six men or women," Bailey said. "And that just doesn't work for me."

As a result, CROSS is already looking for a larger place so family rooms can be designated.

"As the economy deteriorates ... we're going to see more and more of these families," Bailey explained. A main reason this happens is utility costs, which he says is the number two reason for losing your home nationwide.

Going to the mattresses

The shelter now has 24 bunks, doubling its previous capacity, and due to the contributions of "a very Christian business in town" the shelter will be getting mattresses to fit the bunks.

Bailey credits local dentist Dr. Jay Davis, former president of the men's club at First United Methodist Church, with asking that club to cover the costs of the mattresses.

Also, a local motel has donated sheets for the beds that had to be discarded due to company policy, but are still usable.

Group home needed

The shelter currently has a program that consists of training to help get people back on their feet and be able to support themselves again, but Bailey is now beginning to see that there are some that can not be helped by this program.

"There are many, many people that should not be outside of a group setting," he said.

One example is a boy and his sister that have come to stay at the shelter. While the brother is a fully functioning young adult, his sister, who is a year older, is the mental and emotional equivalent of a 10 year-old girl, "making her the perfect prey for other men" that may be in the shelter.

The parents are fugitives and the pair were put out in the street because the parents are running from the law, Bailey explained.

CROSS is hoping to find a larger piece of property so that a group home can be opened -- a permanent home for people "who really are not capable of dealing with the stresses of modern day living ... people that can lean on each other."

The most important thing is to find a couple "to be a mom and a dad," Bailey said.

Bailey has a strong faith, repeatedly saying that "God will provide," and in nearly all of the cases since the shelter has opened, that has apparently happened.

But the things that are provided must be undertaken by the hands of mortals, and each week beings new people to the shelter and a new challenge for CROSS.

"These stories just go on and on," Bailey said of the shelter residents.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Raising boys...

There really are significant differences between raising sons and daughters.

Wonderful advice from our colleagues over at Fathers.com...

Countless studies have shown that growing up with a father increases boys' school performance and decreases their risk of committing a crime and abusing drugs and alcohol. Here are eight more ways dads influence boys—whether they live in the home or stay involved on a regular basis.

  1. Shape their identity. Boys look to fathers in their search for self. Without a father, boys have a harder time defining who they are and who they want to be. A boy's search for self starts with his father.
  2. ImageHelp them belong. The need to belong to a family or tribe is a powerful force in boys. Having a father in the picture gives them this sense of alliance. Studies show that boys without fathers are more likely to join gangs—because they have to look outside the family for social acceptance.
  3. Influence their values. Boys with fathers are more likely than their fatherless peers to have economic stability in the household. This gives them a sense of self-worth. There are other values fathers shape: work ethic, having a healthy relationship, and persevering.
  4. Demonstrate character. Boys look up to their fathers and imitate what they see. Fathers can model good character traits like integrity, honesty, courage, restraint, fairness, foresight, and citizenship. When fathers are absent, boys look to celebrities, popular musicians, or sports figures for character cues.
  5. Teach respect. A father who does not show up for his boy epitomizes disrespect. Present fathers, on the other hand, can actively teach respectful behaviors such as listening, trust, tolerance, politeness, and understanding limits.
  6. Fill the void. Boys without fathers often feel as though there's something missing, which is why some fatherless boys turn to sex, pornography, violence, drugs, alcohol, or other self-destructive behaviors. Having a father helps boys feel complete.
  7. Balance ideas about sex. Boys without fathers have a lot of unanswered questions about sex. A side effect is that they don't talk about sex and get the practical advice that would carry them into healthy, fulfilling relationships as men. Fathers can give practical advice about girls, sex, wet dreams, contraceptives, pregnancy, and other topics they are not likely to discuss with their moms.
  8. Give them love. Boys who don't have involved fathers often view love as vulnerability, and trust as a bad thing. Fathers show boys that love means satisfaction and completeness.

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