The first “Breakfast With Dads” happened at Billy Earl Dade Middle School in December 2017. The school wanted their sons to bond with their fathers. More than 800 of the school’s 900 students are from low-income families; many are from broken homes. Hundreds of the 11-to-13-year-old boys simply did not have a father to come with them to the breakfast. So sign-up was low. Only 150 boys.
And still there were not enough dads.
So the school asked men to volunteer. “[T]he reality of a great event like this is a lot of our kids will not have a dad present. But there is nothing like having a male present in the form of a mentor,” one organizer posted on social media. “We are in need of at least 50 or more additional male mentors who can devote one hour of their Thursday morning next week to this cause.”
Fifty men. One hour. Word spread. The Dallas Morning News picked up the story. And when breakfast on Thursday came, an astounding 600 men showed up.
“The look of awe—even disbelief—in students’ eyes as they made their way through the crowd of ‘dads’ was astonishing,” wrote Stephanie Drenka, whose photographs of the event hit several news sources. “It was a miracle any of the pictures came out in focus, because I could barely see clearly through the tears streaming down my face and fogged-up glasses.”
Present and accounted for that day was assistant Dallas police chief Jason Rodriguez. He wrote, “Powerful to see a community of fellow men and fathers come together to wrap their arms around [our] young men.”
“There was so much inspiration everywhere,” Drenka wrote. She said the hope in that room was palpable.
Why is this so moving? Because someone recognized that these boys are struggling. And they saw that what they needed was not funding or social theories but dads. And because when dads—and substitute dads—for one morning in December answered the call, the looks on their faces told the whole story.
Our boys need dads!
We don’t talk about it much in public, but we know our boys need the attention of engaged fathers—or, in their absence, selfless men.
Look at the photos of those boys, looking up at the policeman, the civil servant, the auctioneer, the preacher, the soldier, the professional, the 30-, 40-, 50-, 60-year-old men who, just by being there, showed them: You have a future. You have something to give. You can grow up to be a good man.
We know how valuable this is. Look at those boys, and you sense what a difference this sort of involved masculine mentorship can make in a young man’s life. You see this building future men, men with a better shot at responsibly raising sons of their own and contributing to society.
This story struck a nerve. Reports of the event appeared on abc, cnn, msnbc, Fox News, the Washington Post, the Daily Mail and elsewhere. Organizers created a Facebook community to turn “Breakfast With Dads” into a movement.
It is moving to see reporters and readers celebrating something so unabashedly pro-man.
In the backs of our minds, we know our society is suffering a crisis of manhood. Dads and men are not engaging in young people’s lives. And lost boys are growing up to become absent fathers themselves. Whether real dads or substitute dads, we need dads.
We need grown men who sacrifice their time for boys, who invest in the future of growing young men. We need men who will hear a call for help, inconvenience themselves, and be there when it really counts.
Yes, in fact, we need men. The argument that men are unnecessary as leaders, as providers, as protectors, as fathers is false.
Last December, when 600 men saw yet another newspaper article or news clip or social media post and had the option to ignore it and move on with their lives, they stopped. When someone said these young men you’ve never even met need you, they dropped what they were doing and stood up for these boys.
Look what happened when men were told, You are needed. For every man the school sought, 12 menanswered! Twelve men leaped into action. This is moving.
What these men did was genuinely manly, and we are moved by manliness. It is especially uplifting when all we have been hearing for months is how men are monsters and predators. It is refreshing to see men exhibiting truly masculine compassion and strength.
News outlets may use it as a short feel-good story and move on. But we should all consider why it makes us feel good. We should also be honest about how many of the assumptions modern society is making about men, marriage, family, parenting, sex roles, and the needs of our children it undermines. Though most of the time we simply look the other way, the needs that these men rose to fill are real. And the need for such men has never been greater.
If you are a man and want to better understand your God-given role—as a leader, a provider, a protector, a husband, a father and a builder—if you want to heed the call and fill the needs in your family and in society, start by reading our free e-book Biblical Manhood.