I just turned 46 though I don’t feel 46. Sometimes I feel younger which is nice but there are certainly times I feel pretty old too. The times I feel old are usually when I’m dealing with my own children and telling them how it was “back in the old days”.
Whether you are a parent or not, it’s become quite clear that times have changed. It’s not all bad but it is certainly difficult for young people. The exposure to every type of unfiltered media can be devastating itself. Add to that the dismantling of the family and things can start looking kind of bleak. One of the most significant changes in the family is the absence of a parent, usually a father. In 1956, 3% of youth in the US were growing up fatherless. Barely anything to be overly concerned about. By 2016, that number jumped to 42%! That is staggering! Those are crisis numbers. Honestly, back in the old days, I knew very few kids who were growing up fatherless. Around that time, the mid-80’s that number had actually grown to about 24%. Today – we are quickly approaching half the youth growing up in the US.
Parents and the family play an extremely important role in child development. Despite what pop-culture may think, men and women play very important and unique roles in raising their children. When one is absent, it can be nearly impossible for the other to try to fill both roles. For single mothers, it can be extremely difficult to be the caring and nurturing mother while also trying to fulfill the disciplinary role that fathers often do. What can we do? We can’t replace a parent. As followers of God, what should we do?
It’s important to fight this problem at the root. A father (or a mother) cannot be replaced. What can happen is the next generation can choose a different course. Sounds easy but when a child has grown up with one parent absent from the home and that is all he/she has ever known, it’s very easy to keep that pattern going. The good news is that a mentor can be a tremendous help. At Center for Champions, Life on Life mentors have one primary job…show up! Why is showing up so important? Because more often than not, others have not shown up. How can a child trust and even listen to another unless that person cares enough to consistently show up? When a father or mother is absent, it is inevitable that at some point, the child or children are going to ask why? Why is he absent? Is it me? Did I cause this? At Center for Champions, we are looking for mentors who are willing to show up, week after week. There is no magic formula for life change but we serve a God who is in the business of transforming lives. More often than not, He does it through relationships…friendships. Consider the people that have been there for you. Whether they were a formal mentor or not, we can all recollect someone who was there for us, who invested in us, who was a role model for us.
I am getting older. I can feel it. The world is different than it was when I was growing up. Yet, God is still in control and He has given the family of God the privilege of being His instrument to grow His family. This is a problem that we can do something about if we are willing to show up.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”