Posted Date: 03/20/2020
COPPERAS COVE, TX (March 18, 2020)— More than 20 million children live in a home without the physical presence of a father. Millions more have dads who are physically present, but emotionally absent. If it were classified as a virus like COVID-19, fatherlessness would be an epidemic worthy of attention as a national emergency.
Countless hours are spent planning the annual Clements/Parsons Elementary Father/Daughter Dance. Dad, grandpas, uncles, brothers and friends bring female students to dance the night away. But, what about those students who do not have a father figure in the home?
Third grade math and science teacher Mark O’Hanlon noticed a couple female students in his class that planned not at attend the dance because they had no male role model in their family with whom to attend.
“It’s unfortunate that in our school there are many children growing up with only one parent for various reasons. It bothered me that there were girls in my class who wanted to go to the dance but couldn’t because there was no one to take them,” O’Hanlon said.
According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, one in four children in the U. S. do not have a father figure in the home. And, not going to the school dance is one of only many more challenges students who are fatherless will face. Statistics show that women-only households are 28 percent more likely to live below the poverty line.
O’Hanlon contacted the female students’ mothers and encouraged them to bring their daughters to the dance and that he would serve as their dancing partner for the evening. One mother accepted.
“I am very grateful that God gave me an opportunity to help at least one girl go to the dance. Her mom and I worked out the details, and her daughter and I had a great time,” said O’Hanlon who stood in front of the school, corsage in-hand, as he waited for the mother to bring her daughter, Taya.
“It was so fun going with Mr. O’Hanlon,” Taya said. “My favorite part was dancing.”
Children living in single-parent homes report lower educational expectations on the part of their parents, less parental monitoring of school work, and less overall social supervision than children from intact families according to the American Sociological Review.
O’Hanlon will continue to have high expectations of his students both inside and outside the classroom.
“I feel honored and blessed to have had the chance to do this,” O’Hanlon said. “As teachers, we are called to make a difference in the lives of our students, and I pray this experience has made a difference in her life.”