Father’s role is a large one

So, how big of a difference does it make to have your dad in your life?

Across the nation, census officials estimate there are 67.8 million fathers, with 25.8 million of them in married-couple family in which there was at least one child 18 years old or younger. Another 1.7 million men were single fathers in 2009, comprising about 15 percent of all single-parent households.

While active participation and quality of participation in their children’s lives vary, just the presence of a dad in a household is a positive indicator in a child’s life.

According to the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse, if married biological or adoptive parents are in the home, it reduces on your chances of being in poverty; using drugs; experiencing educational, health, emotional and behavioral problems; being a victim of child abuse, and engaging in criminal behavior than those who grow up with absent fathers.

In 2008, according to the U.S. Census, 10.3 percent of American children lived in poverty, but the percentage of children living in poverty was nearly half that — 5.5 percent — in married couple homes. The clearinghouse says that children in homes without fathers are five times more likely to be poor.

Research cited by the organization indicates that dads who are involved in their children’s education — even if they’re not the custodial parent — are a factor in their children’s academic performance. The child who has an involved father also has fewer disciplinary problems and shows a higher degree of curiosity and problem-solving ability.

For guys reading this, no doubt it is quite flattering, and contrary to the images of dads that have been portrayed year after year in the electronic media. How many situation comedy shows have you seen in which the situation is the father is inept or, at best, far out of touch with reality?

The fact is, dads are in a position to have a big impact on the lives of their children. It’s a position that no man should take lightly.

While today is set aside to honor our fathers, it’s also an excellent time for dads to take a few minutes to themselves and honestly assess how they’re doing. Think back over the past year and ask yourself if there are things — perhaps just small changes — that you can do to be more involved in your child’s life. And if there is, do it.

It’ll pay off for your child and create memories you will always cherish. Anyone can be a father; it’s more important to be a dad.