Fatherís Day. For those with loving fathers, itís a time of gratitude. For others who donít know their dads, it hurts. A single mom told me, ďIíll never get married. Iíd rather raise my kids alone. I donít need some man making my life miserable.Ē

I said, ďMaybe you feel that way because youíve never known the love of a good man.Ē

My friend agreed. For her, men brought selfish demands, betrayal, and abandonment. Sheís not alone, and such women likely view ďthe love of a good manĒ to be as mythical as a unicorn.

But just as mythical is the idea that kids donít need a father. Daughters first learn about a manís love from their dads. If a girl never knows a fatherís kindness, strength and encouragement, she wonít look for it in a boyfriend. An absent father makes a lack of commitment feel familiar.

Boys need dads to role model protection, care and commitment. A fatherís love bolsterís a boyís confidence and his sense of belonging. A husband who loves his wife well shows his children how itís done.

Fathers are not dispensable, yet more and more, they are missing in families. About 35 percent of children in the U.S. live in single parent families. A study by The Annie E. Casey Foundationís Kids Count tracked single family growth from 2010 through 2014 and grouped single families according to ethnicity or race:

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders - 17 percent
Non-Hispanic whites - 25 percent
Hispanics - 42 percent
American Indian and Native Alaskans - 53 percent
Non-Hispanic blacks - 66 percent
Two or more races - 42 percent

Perhaps too many men, fatherless themselves, underestimate their own power in their childrenís lives. Maybe a lack of positive role modeling renders them clueless as to parenting and like their M.I.A. fathers before them, they get out. Or maybe a manís emotional baggage, irresponsibility or immaturity force the mother of his kids to go solo.

Yet men should want better for their children than what they knew in their own childhoods. That includes a healthy relationship between two parents, which requires kindness, give-and-take, and forgiveness. Even if a couple cannot stay together, children will benefit from observing a civil and respectful relationship between their parents. Some men just donít know where to begin. Awareness is a good place to start.

Dysfunction begets dysfunction, and it stops when a man decides to be the last station on the trip to Nowhere. His kids deserve a better destination.

It starts with a willingness to do things differently, and then to follow through. Countless fathers see their kids as a primary legacy, and they are committed to help that vision unfold. Fatherís Day is for sharing such stories. What will your children say about you?

The love of a good man is transformative, especially for his children. Itís never too late to re-enter your childís life.

ó Email Suzette Martinez Standring at suzmar@comcast.net or visit readsuzette.com.
Note: This is the survey I refer to in my column: http://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/tables/107-children-in-single-parent-families-by#detailed/1/any/false/869,36,868,867,133/10,11,9,12,1,185,13/432,431