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11 June, 2008

THE STATE OF FATHERHOOD

Fatherhood has become more than about raising children. Fatherhood has become a movement. A global movement. Married Fathers, Divorced Fathers, Custodial Fathers, Non-Custodial Fathers, Single Fathers, “Long Distance” Fathers and “Stay-At-Home” Fathers in the villages, suburbs, rural districts, townships, hamlets, and cities throughout our world are engaged in a great struggle to create key pieces of the puzzle to move their families forward, positively shape the minds and souls of our children – our future – our bridge to the future, and strengthen and empower the communities in which they live and work.


As Men throughout our global village celebrate Fatherhood, they continue to re-examine and reshape their roles and responsibilities through the courts, the ballot box and demonstrations in the streets of our cities throughout our global village. Men are not just talking about what they want and need to raise strong and healthy families, they are going about the business of developing what they need and want in the form of resources and support services which speak to their unique parenting and health needs. And in the process, they are transforming legislation and public policy throughout our global village.


In the United States, on Friday, 13 June 2008 – two days before Father’s Day – Sunday, 15 June 2008 – a national forum which is being hailed as the National Fatherless Day Rally will be held at all state capitols and state houses in each of the 50 states from 12:00 P.M. through 3:00 P.M. The National Fatherless Day Rally is being supported by a myriad of Fatherhood organizations which include, but are not limited to, the Coalition for Fathers and Children, Familes-4-Justice, Children Need Both Parents, and United Civil Rights Councils of America.


June 2008 is being observed as International Men’s Month (www.menstuff.com) and “Fathers Are Important!” Month. “Fathers Are Important!” Month is the brainchild of Don Mathis, an eloquent voice for NonCustodial Fathers, and the publisher of an international Fatherhood publication – The Fourteen Percenter (e-mail: fourteenpercenter@yahoo.com).


International Men’s Health Week is being observed throughout our global village from 7 June 2008 through 14 June 2008. Why is there a need a need for an International Men’s Health Week? Heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, prostate cancer, hypertension, and Alzheimer's Disease are just a few of the unique health issues that confront men in the Millennium. According to the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, 1 in 10 men are at risk worldwide for Alzheimer's Disease. According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer accounts for approximately 9% of all cancer-related deaths in men. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2008 at least 186,320 new cases of prostate cancer will be reported. It further estimates that in 2008 approximately 28,660 prostate cancer patients in the United States will die.


In October 2007, Equal Parenting became the law of the land in Denmark. What does this mean? It means that when Danish parents divorce or separate, children have equal access to both parents and the right to be nurtured and mentored by both parents despite the parents’ divorced or separated status.


In the United States, Equal Parenting Initiatives have been launched in a number of states which include California, Michigan, North Dakota, Ohio and West Virginia to amend existing legislation governing parental custodial rights in separation and divorce cases. The Equal Parenting Initiatives seek to create legislation which allows for the granting of equal legal custody and equal physical custody of children whose parents have either separated or divorced. Equal Parenting Initiatives seek to provide children of separated or divorced parents with equal access to both parents and allow both parents although they may be separated or divorced to equally nurture and mentor their children.


Men in Barcelona, Spain; Berlin, Germany; and in 228 cities throughout the United States celebrated Fatherhood and redefined their parental roles and responsibilities in 2007 by participating in the 2007 Million Father March (www.blackstarproject.org) by, among other things, becoming extremely proactive in their children’s learning process by taking time off from work and escorting their children to school on the first day of the 2007-2008 academic year, obtaining a copy of their children’s roster and consistently monitoring their children’s academic progress. The Million Father March is the brainchild of Phillip Jackson, the Founder and Executive Director of the Black Star Project which is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois.


Paternity leave is the rule rather than the exception in Europe. Fathers in Sweden are entitled to a two-week parental month period. Norwegian Fathers are granted a one-month parental leave period while Fathers in Iceland enjoy a parental leave of up to 3 months. In the Czech Republic, both Fathers and Mothers are entitled to take up to 3 years of parental leave and employers are obligated to reserve the Mother’s or Father’s position for a period of up to 3 years. And Mothers and Fathers in the Czech Republic may be paid parental leave allowances although only one parent per family is entitled to receive a parental leave allowance.


Men – especially Men who are Fathers – quietly and unceremoniously struggle day after day to live and work and positively shape the minds and souls of our children in a very imperfect world. Yet, there is a glimpse of light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. And it is a light that is growing stronger
. . . and brighter.

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