I just returned from the National Association for Relationship and Marriage Education (NARME) Conference in Orlando where thought leaders, researchers, marriage and family therapists and military family center directors gathered. The information sharing was overwhelming. A few of the conference highlights was the research regarding boys in crisis and another topic with included a coordinated community effort in Florida to reduce divorce that appears to be working.
The research on boys was related to father absence. For father-absent boys, there is a higher suicide rate, a higher homeless and runaway rate, higher behavioral disorders, higher anger management issues, higher dropout rates, higher rates of being neglected or abused, higher substance use, higher incarceration rates and higher poverty rates. Currently, 43 percent of American children are living in father-absent homes. The speaker wrote a book, The Boy Crisis: Why Our Boys are Struggling and What We Can Do About it.
What can we do about it? According to researchers, we must find male mentors for these father-absent boys, recognize their vulnerabilities and find them coaches, grandfathers, uncles, older brothers, educators, pastors, youth leaders or scoutmasters, to guide them to self-regulation, impulse control and life success. We also must work together to increase relationship development skills, family formation strategies and marriage strengthening in schools, recreation centers, small groups, faith communities, counseling centers, conferences or workshops if we are going to change the tide of boys that are in crisis because they long for their dads and are unsure of their life script.
If we also work to strengthen relationships, reduce non-marital childbearing, help couples build and maintain strong marriages and reduce divorce in our communities, imagine how we can prevent some of the social issues that challenge us as a nation. A model of what seems to be working was presented. A cadre of community leaders came together to create a marriage and family initiative. This group worked to increase awareness, resources, and hope for struggling couples by partnering with licensed marriage and family therapists working alongside a church congregation as well as corporate offices, hosting date night events, facilitating seminars that imparted relationship skills and hosting a hope weekend for couples in crisis. This coordinated and collaborative community effort seems to be working. Divorce is down in Jacksonville, Fla. by 28 percent in the last two years. Although Duval County cannot make a causal case that it was this marriage initiative alone that created this downturn, it is a compelling effect that needs to be investigated and replicated.
The Center for Relationship Education is committed to working with leaders throughout Colorado to increase marital satisfaction, strengthen families, teach relationship development skills to students and adults and provide opportunities to maintain healthy connections. The goal is to follow the lead of the Jacksonville effect and see if the Center for Relationship Education can reduce divorce significantly, helping all children in the process. Will you join us in this effort? For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or go to myrelationshipcenter.org
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