June 21, 2020

The State runs Father's Day column from South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families about the importance of fatherhood

The South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families has a mission to reduce child poverty through father engagement, helping fathers become great dads. Warren Bolton, board secretary for the center, wrote a guest column for The State that appeared on Father’s Day about the importance of fathers. The full text of his column is below or available here.

The role of a father remains a powerful one, so let’s keep empowering our SC dads

The State
By Warren Bolton
Board Secretary for the South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families

Long before I became a father, I was a little boy learning the tough lesson of what it’s like to grow up without a dad at home.

I vowed to never let my children know the hurt, loneliness and, yes, shame I sometimes felt as I watched my friends’ fathers pick them up from school — or when I listened to other kids boast about their dad’s broad shoulders, heroic deeds and gifts of love.

While the experts and statistics are on target in their assessment that children struggle in life without an engaged father, they didn’t have to tell me. I lived it.

It was the absence of my father as well as the determination to be the best dad I could be that spurred my interest in an initiative birthed in South Carolina during the 1990s. That’s when the Sisters of Charity Foundation set out to learn what created poverty among children in our state — and to devise a response to help stamp it out.

The foundation established several initiatives around the state to help men rebuild their lives, become better fathers and reconnect with their families. In 2002 the foundation started the S.C. Center for Fathers and Families to carry on this worthwhile mission.

During nearly two decades on The State’s Editorial Board, I wrote a lot about the great work done by the Center and the local programs it supported.

What has transpired over the years is amazing.

The programs have grown immensely and now challenge men to focus on responsible fatherhood, job readiness and retention, soft-skills training, managing child-support obligations, financial management, parenting/co-parenting, healthy relationships, anger management and much more.

Today the S.C. Center for Fathers and Families is the state’s longest-running and most-respected fatherhood organization. This is the year it looks to celebrate having more than 20,000 fathers complete the programs since it all started in 2002. That’s the kind of success we should all celebrate and support.

Helping fathers reclaim their lives is not only a good work, it’s a God-guided work. It was God who gave us earthly fathers to be moral, spiritual leaders and providers who love their families and put their children in position to succeed.

When fathers aren’t active, children are more likely to become juvenile delinquents, drug abusers, dropouts or gang members. That doesn’t mean that every child without an active father fails; many, thanks to strong mothers and others, become well-rounded and upstanding citizens. But many other boys and girls do struggle mightily, and they can spend a lifetime in limbo — all because they missed what they so badly needed from a father.

It’s a father who teaches a son how to be a man, how to love a woman, how to wake up every morning and go to work to care for a family.

It’s a father who teaches a daughter her worth.

It’s a father who teaches her daughter what love is; he is his daughter first love — and when she knows that she doesn’t go looking for love in all the wrong places.

That’s where the local programs supported by the S.C. Center for Fathers and Families come in. Their goal is a simple but powerful one: to help fathers become great dads.

That’s all I want to be: a great dad.

And, frankly, that’s all I ever wanted to have when I was growing up.

That is still true today for every child.

A Columbia pastor and father, Warren Bolton is board secretary for the S.C. Center for Fathers and Families.

The South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System.

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From its Cleveland headquarters, the Sisters of Charity Health System provides oversight, leadership and strategic direction to more than 20 organizations responding to community needs in Canton and Cleveland, Ohio, and South Carolina.

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