A good friend of mine lost his wife the other day. He was devastated, but he was even more worried about his three children — all in their teens — who have now lost their mother.
Another friend of mine lost his father — or at least contact with him — when he was 9. His dad went to jail for possession of cocaine with intent to sell. My friend spent the next 10 years having a father for about an hour a week, during visiting hours, until they shipped his father to a prison out of state. Then he only saw him about once a year. He valued that time together with his father. Despite what his father had done, he was grateful for whatever time he had with him, and his father did the best to be a father from behind bars.
Last month on Mother’s Day, and this month on Father’s Day, I was thinking about the two of them a great deal, as I reflected on how much I value my own parents, and how lucky I have been to have two loving and caring parents.
But I was also thinking about all those folks out there who have loving parents but who may have lost contact with them because of a falling out or some disagreement over this or that, or just the demands of an increasingly busy and hectic life.
This was not just a random thought. One of my brothers has not spoken to my mother for over a decade. Another of my brothers would not speak to my father for years as well, although happily he and my father have recently reunited. And I pray there is still hope for my other brother.
They both have their reasons for their dissatisfaction with my parents, and I am not here to judge them. But I do try to impart to them just how valuable it is to have parents and to have a potential relationship with them, even if imperfect, by letting them know just how many there are out there who do not have that opportunity.
And just to put things into perspective, there are roughly 120,000 children in America who have no parents at all. That’s a whole lot of children who have nobody in the world who truly cares whether they live or die, succeed or fail, smile or cry.
And right now in America about 46 percent of children are born out of wedlock with potentially absentee fathers. That’s a whole lot of children never knowing if the stability and rock of a father will ever be there.
Now those two statistics may provide us all with plenty of fodder to discuss needed social change. But first and foremost, it should make all of us who have parents appreciate them. And to once again remind ourselves to respect and love them in whatever way we can, to spend as much time with them as we can, and to cherish them as much as we can.
And hopefully we can spend these two special days of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day cherishing our children as well.
Because one of the greatest God-given blessings on earth is the God-ordained family we are given, and with it life has so much more value, so much more meaning and so much more of God in our lives.
Maybe if we focus a little more on that blessing, then it will go a long way to promoting more responsible parenting in America and solving some of those social problems I mentioned earlier.
And maybe too it will get more people thinking about how to make that number of orphans in America a little smaller, by adopting and becoming parents to one or more of them, so that you can bring God’s greatest blessing to a child who has never known it too.