Christian Home Builder - Lesson 6

A Generation Without Dad

Background Information for the Teacher


  1. The student will recognize the role of God as Father.
  2. The student will recognize the cultural attacks on father and fatherhood during the past generation.
  3. The student will be able to identify the causes of father loss.
  4. The student will recognize the consequences of father loss on individuals and families.


The vital role of fathering is clearly demonstrated in the Biblical text. God is presented as the Father of the human race. We are presented as His children. The past generation has seen a deterioration and decline of fathers in families. We are now feeling the impact of that absence among young people and young adults.


  1. The teacher will want to review this lesson.
  2. The teacher will want to look for examples of father loss they know of personally and in their own life.
  3. The teacher may want to refer to the resources listed at the end of this lesson especially Dr. Beth Erickson's book, Longing For Dad: Father Loss And It's Impact.

Lesson Plan for Conducting the Class


  1. Prayer and announcements.
  2. Ask the class if they can name stories in the Biblical text where a father is central to the story. (Prodigal son, Saul and Jonathan, Jesus in Gethsemane praying to His Heavenly Father.)
  3. What things do fathers uniquely do for families and children? (Provide strength, provide a sense of security, and offer a moral compass, encouragement).
  4. During the past generation, American families have seen a steady decline in the presence of fathers in intact families. Our divorce laws have declared that a father is dismissible from the life of his children. We are now feeling the impacts of that "father loss” on children, teenagers and young adults.

Learning Experiences:

  1. God The Father.
    1. God could have presented Himself in many ways. He chose the concept of "Father” to best demonstrate His nature to His created beings.
    2. God as Father provides for us.
      1. He knows His children. John 10:14
      2. He supplies our physical needs. Matthew 6:25
      3. He is compassionate. Psalms 103:13
      4. He gives us significance. Romans 8:23
      5. He gives us security. Matthew 11:28
      6. He forgives us. Micah 7:18
      7. He disciplines us as sons. Revelation 3:19
      8. He is accessible. Romans 8:26
  2. The Effects Of Children Growing Up Without Fathers, see Why Marriage Matters, by Glenn T. Stanton.
    1. Children without fathers are children who are led into crime.
      1. One of the nation's leading scholars on crime, James Q. Wilson of the University of California, Los Angeles, explains the relationship between crime and married parents in communities: "Neighborhood standards may be set by mothers, but they are enforced by fathers, or at least adult males. Neighborhoods without fathers are neighborhoods without men able and willing to confront errant youth, chase threatening gangs, and reproach delinquent fathers. The absence of fathers deprives the community of those little platoons that effectively control boys on the street.” Why Marriage Matters, Stanton.
    2. Fathers teach boys how to channel their masculinity, and girls how to accept a male in their life.
      1. David Blankenhorn, explains, "We have too many boys with guns primarily because we have too few fathers. If we want fewer of the former, we must have more of the latter. Boys need role models - an opportunity to observe their father's controlling their anger and exhibiting their masculinity in productive and socially acceptable ways. If adolescent boys are not affirmed in a positive masculine role model, they will seek to "prove” their masculinity to the world through violence. That is what we see so much of today. Girls also need fathers to help them learn the proper ways to interact with and receive affection from males. While boys without fathers turn to guns and crime, girls without father's seem to turn to having babies.” David Blankenhorn, in Why Marriage Matters, Stanton.
    3. A loving father can have powerful impact on his daughter.
      1. Dr. Wade Horn, a child psychologist and Commissioner for Children, Youth and Families During The Bush Administration, states "If a girl experiences the love of a father who places her wellbeing above his own and who acts as a natural protector, then the girl is likely to delay sexual relations until she finds such a man herself. If she is denied such fatherly love, then the girl is likely to try to seek it elsewhere-often inappropriately and often at very young ages.” Dr. Wade Horn, in Why Marriage Matters, Stanton.
    4. Children need fathers and mothers to work together.
      1. McLanahan and Sandefur of The National Survey of Family Growth state, "If we were to design a system for making sure that children's basic needs were met, we would probably come up with something quite similar to the two parent family idea. Such as a design, in theory, would not only insure that children had access to the time and money of two adults, it would also provide a system of checks and balances that have promoted quality parenting. The fact that both adults have a biological connection to the child would increase the likelihood that the parents would identify with the child and be willing to sacrifice for that child, and it would reduce the likelihood of either parent would abuse the child. While we recognize that two parent families frequently do not live up to this ideal in all respects, nevertheless we would expect children who grow up in two parent families to be doing better, on the average than children who grow up with only one parent.”
  3. Sources Of Father Hunger, Dr. Beth Erickson, Longing For Dad: Father Loss And It's Impact.
    1. Children can experience the absence of a father whether they are in the home or not present.
    2. Father hunger leaves a lasting emotional scar on children as they enter adulthood.
    3. Seven sources of father hunger:
      1. Death - Death is abandonment. It contains some elements of desertion. Death, sometimes, while painful at the moment, can be one of the least severe forms of father loss to experience. There are socially sanctioned rituals to help people through death. It can be admitted and dealt with. There is a finite end point that helps everyone move on from there. However, as the death has been accidental, it may be surrounded by a conspiracy of silence that prevents people from talking about it. This secret, "prevents the healing process from occurring.”
      2. Divorce - The chance that a first marriage will end in divorce today stands at about 50%. The odds of a child today witnessing the divorce of their parents are much greater than they were even a generation ago. Divorce can be a fertile breading ground for father hunger, because the majority of children actually live away from their father for many reasons. Most experts agree, that if a divorce does occur, children do best when both parents work together to ensure an ongoing, meaningful and consistent relationship between both parents in their lives.
      3. Adoption - There is no doubt that being adopted into a family is clearly preferable to living in an institution or a string of foster homes. All adoptions share two significant common elements. Adopted children know only shadows where their fathers are suppose to be. There is normally a gapping hole in their identities wondering who this individual was. It may be similar to families of POW or MIA. While often told, and loving so, by adoptive parents that they were loved and chosen, most adoptive children do have a gnawing urge to know more about not only their biological mother but also biological father.
      4. Addiction - We live in a society today where conditions are ripe for many forms of addiction. These addictions can lead to physical, sexual and emotional abuse. Drinking and drugs are a national scandal and can result in a variety of long term ailments on the part of children. Adult children of alcoholics now number in the millions across the United States. These young adults and young couples struggle then to form their own families.
      5. Abuse - Abuse robs children of their childhood. Their deadly affects leave emotional intellectual scars well into the adult years. Often these scars are hidden away and never dealt with due to unnecessary shame. Children have learned that their habitually abusive father, even if there is guilt and remorse after the abuse, remain unreliable and untrustworthy.
      6. Traditional Fathering - Loses due to traditional fathering are perhaps the most subtle and difficult to see. The traditional father is an individual that delegates the role of nurturer and confidant to the mother. The traditional father has been socialized to believe that his only role is to be a good provider and a firm disciplinarian. The psychological and emotional needs are left to the women to provide. Yet as we have seen in this lesson, God describes Himself as caring for all of our needs, as a disciplinarian, as a provider and as a confidant.
      7. Abandonment - Many children today are abandoned by their father. This leaves a hole where the direction of a father should naturally be. Abandonment may cause the boy or girl to feel they are unworthy of love and attention from other people.
  4. The Effects Of Father Loss.
    1. Father loss can cause decreased self-esteem in a child.
    2. Father loss can result in a fear of abandonment on the part of a young person.
    3. Father loss can result in exaggerated fears of being alone.
    4. Father loss can result in undue feelings of shame.
    5. Father loss can result in difficulties in managing emotions, especially anger.
    6. Father loss can result in an overt need to control ones life, situations and others around them.
    7. Father loss can result in problems with trusting other people.
    8. Father loss can result in feeling like one truly doesn't deserve good things.


  1. An individual who truly feels a sense of father loss may want to discuss with a professional counselor or minister their life history and the losses they experienced in their family. This is very tender work and may require time and patience in order to help the person deal with their grief and loss.
  2. An individual may want to use their journal to write down the memories they have of their father. Perhaps these are wonderful memories. Perhaps these are painful memories for them. The journal provides a safe place for an individual to write and record those things that cannot safely be communicated to an unsafe parent.
  3. The question of whether to talk with a parent about the past is a very difficult one. If the father continues to be an unsafe person, then the likelihood of this being a productive conversation is very low. The individual may want to use counseling, their journal or letters that are written and never sent in order to assist in the healing process.
  4. Students will want to look for ways that their fathers blessed them. What things did your father do that was effective? How do you want to incorporate those characteristics into your own parenting and marriage?
  5. Think about the young people that you know. Who in your circle of friends is growing up without a regular father figure in their life? How could you or someone else that you know be in instrumental in providing some guidance, support and help to that young man or young woman?

Further Resources:

  1. Dr. Beth M. Erickson, Longing For Dad: Father Loss And It's Impact, Health Communications Inc.
  2. Glenn T. Stanton, Why Marriage Matters.

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