More so than ever we are right to have a day set aside to honor fatherhood, because it is an increasingly endangered institution. Fathering a child takes no special talent; anyone of a certain age can do it. And, these days, many do become fathers with no intention of taking part in art of fatherhood.

Fatherhood takes a great deal more in the way of maturity, commitment and effort. Fatherhood means sticking around, as marriage vows always implore, “till death do us part.” In 21st century America, sticking around after fathering a child is not always priority number one.

According to Jim Daly, president and CEO of James Dobson’s Focus on the Family organization, the United States leads the world in fatherless families, with roughly 24 million children – or 34 percent of all kids in the United States – living in homes where the father does not reside.

Put another way, the number of such children equal the total population all people currently living in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Louisiana, New Mexico and Mississippi combined.

Daly says nearly 40 percent of children in father-absent homes have not seen their dad during the past year, and more than half of all fatherless children have never been in their dad’s home. The number of children being raised by single mothers has more than tripled between 1960 and 2000.

Sonora Dodd of Spokane, Wash., who organized the first Father’s Day in 1910, knew how precious her father was. After all, he had reared Sonora and her five siblings as a single parent following his wife’s death. But there is no way Ms. Dodd could have known just how precious an institution her idea would eventually celebrate, made ever more so because of its becoming increasingly rare.

It is incumbent upon the rest of us to remember the importance of fathers to American households.

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