Becoming Sons and Daughters 
Plot summary from IMDb: Every major social problem that plagues our nation today can be traced back to one root cause: Fatherlessness. For instance, 71% of pregnant teenagers live in a fatherless home. Additionally, 85% of young men in prison grew up without a dad. They are not stats, they are desperate for stability. From small town American to the heart of New York City, ‘Becoming Sons & Daughters’ tells the stories of people who are stepping into the lives of fatherless kids. Through adoption, mentoring, and simply paying attention, these men and women are planting hope and security. They are giving kids a future and helping them become sons and daughters.
— Reflections —
First, the filmmakers should be commended for putting together a really well done presentation. The stories alone are enough to stir and inspire the soul, and hearten the watcher towards hope in this world found in the redemptive power of love, forgiveness, compassion, and empathy. It is also really nice to hear stories of faith that are not driven to or by political, social, or nationalistic ideologies, but simply by the purity of their relationship with the divine. Their humanity, too, found in that struggle, is also very real, and one that I appreciated seeing in all its messiness.
My initial response, however, to anything that begins with statistics is to recall a quip attributed to Mark Twain,
There are lies, damned lies, and statistics.
And in that same line of thinking, my query is not with the accuracy of the statistics quoted. (Though one should do some deep reading of the studies before drawing any strong conclusions.) Rather, we have to be clear-headed about what the statistics do and do not tell us, what they may or may not be subtlety conveying, and the real societal trajectory that we might happen to be on. As Statistics 101 tells us, correlation is not the same thing as causation. In addition, the statistic of absenteeism does not help us understand why absenteeism is an issue, or the psychological pain or challenge that men may have faced in the past couple decades that have led us to this particular point. Economics are a huge factor that is alluded to, but not given the attention that is needed. It may be that the nascent feminist liberation that exists is still in conflict with the vestiges of patriarchy, causing really difficult economic realities for everyone. Rather than merely indicting the absence of fathers, we may be better off identifying the wider, broader, and deeper societal, religious, and cultural issues that are also forces at play.
Regardless, thanks to The Mentoring Project.org for their contribution to the conversation. Though I have my critical reflections, I am with them in spirit and in ethic because I, too, care deeply about the children, the people they become, and how the early years of life greatly influence how their adulthood is shaped.