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14 May, 2009

INVESTING IN THE FUTURE: IN SEARCH OF FATHERHOOD(R)

Instinctively, our parents, grandparents, and great grandparents understood that children were more than mere extensions of themselves. They knew that we – their children – were and are their future – their bridge to the future. Under the most difficult set of circumstances, they positively shaped our minds and souls and did their best to create and implement plans that would move their families forward. Against the backdrop of two World Wars, the Great Depression of 1929, and the turbulent global social and political climate of the 1960s, our parents, grandparents, and great grandparents quietly and unceremoniously went about the business of investing in our future.

One could say that parenting, for the most part, has always been a daunting task. In the Millennium, a rising divorce rate, an alarming increase in the incidence of diabetes, prostate cancer, colon cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s Disease among men, and the global economic crisis are just a few of the factors that are dramatically complicating the task of positively shaping the minds and souls of our children – our bridge to the future for parents, in general, and Fathers, in particular.

Our parents, grandparents, and great grandparents were successful in getting us to understand the direct connection between completing our education and academic excellence and our access to a world of endless opportunities. In the Millennium, approximately 7,000 children drop out of American high schools during each day of the academic year according to the Washington, D.C.-based Alliance for Excellent Education (www.all4ed.org). The average school year in the United States spans nine months which means that approximately 1,890,000 children – our future – our bridge to the future -- have dropped out of school. Shouldn’t we be trying to figure out why 1,890,000 children are dropping out of America’s high schools? Is it a symptom of a much bigger problem? Are our children – our future – our bridge to the future -- dropping out of high school because they are the victims of bullying or violence? Or because they have been arbitrarily misdiagnosed with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and wrongfully banished to special education classes? Or because they are unable to concentrate in school because they are not getting a proper breakfast at home before leaving for school? Or is it because no one at home is “holding their feet to the fire” and requiring them to excel in school? We can resolve America’s high school dropout problem by investing in the future. How do we do that? It’s simple. Bring together concerned individuals, educators, academic, business and religious institutions, social entrepreneurs, and community grassroots organizations in every community which have key “pieces of the puzzle” to creating and effectively implementing programs that will, with all deliberate speed, inspire our children to complete high school and resolve the myriad of issues that currently make it difficult for 1,890,000 American children to remain in school. These individuals and organizations know how to get the job done. And, IN SEARCH OF FATHERHOOD®, knows who they are and where they are. Let’s give these individuals and organizations the freedom and support they will need to implement programs that have a successful track record of dramatically reducing America’s high school dropout rate and inspiring our children – our future – our bridge to the future “to do more, want more, and be more”.

Men are the glue that holds our families, our communities, and our world together. Investing in our future mandates that we move with all deliberate speed to create key “pieces of the puzzle” that will effectively address the critical and unique health issues of men throughout our global village. It is estimated that American women are outliving American men by approximately six years. Approximately 21% of American men have coronary heart disease. According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer accounts for approximately 9% of all cancer-related deaths in men in the United States. The American Cancer Society (www.acs.org) projects that 1 out of 35 men will die from prostate cancer. In 2009, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Men’s Health Network (www.menshealthnetwork.org), approximately 186,000 American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. It is estimated that 1 out of 10 American men will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease by their 55th birthday. The Center for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov) which collects and maintains diabetes statistics has found that men are more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than women. Approximately 77,250 men were diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2008 and at least 24,260 male colorectal cancer patients succumbed to the disease. Approximately, 10.9 million men in the United States -- or 10.5% of all American men -- who are over the age of 20 are estimated to have diabetes. Diabetes increases significantly the risk for an individual to suffer a stroke or heart disease. And not surprisingly, the incidence rate for stroke and heart disease is high for American men.

Moving legislators in the United States to propose and enact into law the Men’s Health Act of 2009 which will establish an Office of Men’s Health in the United States Department of Health and Human Services is one of the key “pieces of the puzzle” to resolving the critical state of affairs of health for American men and investing in our future. The establishment of an Office of Men’s Health in the United States Department of Health and Human Services will do much to help men obtain increased research and research funding for their critical and unique health issues, orchestrate regional health awareness and educational programs, and provide all American men with equal and greater access to health resources and support services.

Our sons need Fathers. It takes a Man to teach a boy how to be a man. Our daughters need Fathers. Fathers shape our daughters’ perception of their self-worth and their place in the world. Investing in our future requires us to provide Fathers with what they need and want to positively shape the minds and souls of our children – our future – our bridge to the future. America’s 25,000,000 Non-Custodial and Divorced Fathers say that they need and want legislation in the form of a Federal Equal Custody Act that would make equal parenting the law of the land and provide American children of divorced and separated parents, with equal access, on a 50/50 basis, to both Dad and Mom. At the same time, America’s 25,000,000 Non-Custodial and Divorced Fathers say that they need and want a modification of the child support guidelines based on the Parenting Time Credit model created in 2004 by the State of Indiana. In 2004, the State of Indiana modified its child support guidelines by instituting Parenting Time Credit for Non-Custodial Parents. How does this work? Non-Custodial and Divorced Fathers in the State of Indiana who spend additional time with their children above and beyond the amount of time that they are granted by the courts, will and do have the amount of their child support obligations reduced by the additional amount of time that they spend with their children.

Let’s invest in the future. Let’s make sure that parents, particularly Fathers, have what they need and want as they go about the business of positively shaping the minds and souls of our children – our future – our bridge to the future. After all, isn’t it really about the children?

The survival of our families, our communities, and our planet hinges upon our willingness to invest in the future. But what do you think? How would you go about investing in the future? S

Send me an e-mail with your solutions and thoughts to: insearchoffatherhood@gmail.com. I will read your comments and publish them on IN SEARCH OF FATHERHOOD®’s blog at http://globalfatherhooddialogue. blogspot.com.

Best regards.


D.A. Sears, Managing Editor

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