A Father's Day message to millions
I have an important message for millions of men. Sunday is Father's Day.
An estimated 15 million American children - one in three - do not live with their fathers.
We can argue whose fault that is. Many of those men were cheated out of custody when there was a divorce. There are many other circumstances.
I don't care whose fault it is.
That doesn't matter.
All I know is that the one person who is totally not responsible for the fatherlessness is the one who is punished most.
I could run the statistics about how much more likely a girl without a father is to wind up pregnant and single before she's 20, or how much more likely a boy is to go to prison.
But numbers are numbing, and children are not statistics. For these men, it does not matter that 15 million kids come home from school to a home without a father.
What should matter to each of these men is whether his child is coming home to a father.
Most of those absentee fathers do a great job of being a part of their children's lives. They visit them. They go to the ballgames. They pay child support.
If you have seen your child in the last six weeks, you're good to go. Skype counts.
As for the rest of you, get off your duffs and contact your children. What are you doing that is so important that you have no time for them?
I am not saying these fathers should find their offspring and demand that each child spend Sunday with him. That is the last thing they should do.
Doing something like that makes it about them, not their children, and Father's Day is about the kids, not the fathers.
We have Father's Day to remind sons and daughters that they have fathers and they should appreciate them, but an absentee father sends a different message to his children: that they are not worthy.
If you are doing that, stop it.
Be a man.
It's been a long while, but don't give up. Find the kid's address and write a letter or find the phone number and call.
If the mother and the child are in hiding because you beat the crap out of them, go on Facebook and apologize.
Tell your child you love him. Don't make excuses or provide explanations. Just give some love for another person for once.
Maybe the message will get through. Maybe not. But it must be sent.
And sent until that message is received - or you die trying.
All children have a father. Your kids have a lousy one. Be a better one.
My wife and I hold hands and watch "The Big Bang Theory" each week (not the daily reruns; there's only so much handholding you can do).
One character is Howard Wolowitz, whose father abandoned him and his mother when Howard was young.
Howard grew up to be not only an aerospace engineer but an astronaut.
One day, they come across a letter from the father to Howard at age 18. Howard never opened the letter. In fact, he destroys the letter during the show.
That's childish, but it's also understandable.
Maybe the show will have the two meet again and reach some reconciliation. Hollywood likes that sort of thing.
But right now, on the show, there is a father whose son is an astronaut despite the years of neglect - and that father does not appreciate what he has. I'm on Howard's side.
And right now, in real America, there are 15 million children who are all potential astronauts and many of them suffer like Howard did.
I'm on their side.
They deserve better.
Their fathers do, too. It's never too late to be a father.
Surber's email is email@example.com.