Crystal’s mother and father had broken up a few months ago and had moved from the family home, each going their own way. The family home was put up for sale. One night, the neighbours were woken by a loud noise that sounded like an explosion.

They looked out their windows to see a massive fire which quickly engulfed the house. Arson squad detectives said it appeared that an accelerant had been used to start the fire in the house. It had been spread throughout the house. Crystal’s body was found in the laundry. The laundry door had been locked.

Police had said that it was unclear why Crystal had returned to the house. She had been living nearby with her mother and brother. Her father was no longer in the family home.

We all know the pain of family breakup. Whether you have experienced it for yourself firsthand, or you have had close friends who experienced the searing pain that comes with the loss of close family relationships. It is not hard to see why a young girl would go back to what was once her family home and grieve.

Put yourself in her shoes. What would she have been thinking sitting there in that empty house — thinking about happier times, or thinking about the arguments, the breakdown of her family, or maybe both?

Then the sadness of what had happened overwhelmed her. It was then she poured petrol in every room of her old home. She then threw a match and resigned herself to death over life.

Sadly, there are 870,000 children who will go to sleep tonight in Australia without their father in the home, just like Crystal. Many go to sleep in tears; others hide the pain. For many the pain comes out in unexplained and damaging behaviours as the children grow to adulthood. Whatever the case, the cost is way too high.

Professor Stephen Baskerville, writing in The Independent Review, said,

“Virtually every major social pathology has been linked to fatherless children: violent crime, drug and alcohol abuse, truancy, unwed pregnancy, suicide, and psychological disorders — all correlating more strongly with fatherlessness than with any other single factor.”

Writing about the situation in America in 1996, sociologist David Popenoe said this:

“The decline of fatherhood is one of the most basic, unexpected, and extraordinary social trends of our time.”

Dr Bruce Robinson of University of Western Australia, author of Fathering from the Fast Lane, has estimated the cost of fatherlessness in Australia to be over 13 billion dollars per year.

A massive longitudinal study undertaken in Sweden, involving over one million children, found that children from single parents showed increased risks of psychiatric disease, suicide or suicide attempt, injury and addiction. The authors, writing in The Lancet, concluded that growing up in “a single-parent family has disadvantages to the health of the child”. It might be noted that 85% of single-parent homes are fatherless, just like Crystal’s.

One expert from Harvard Medical School, who has studied over 40 years of research on the question of parental absence and children’s well-being, said this:

“What has been shown over and over again to contribute most to the emotional development of the child is a close, warm, sustained and continuous relationship with both parents.”

Or as David Blankenhorn has stated in Fatherless America:

“Fatherlessness is the most harmful demographic trend of this generation.”

Sadly, the situation is not much different in Australia. We need to reverse the trend of fatherlessness. We need to put our children first and resource fathers to help give their children the best start in life. We invite your support in our mission.

As a father this week, put your children first. To do this, you must put your marriage first! My heart goes out to the Crystals of this world. I hope her story inspires you to be the best possible dad for your children.

If you would like to help us in our vision to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and turn the tide of fatherlessness in Australia, Dads4Kids could certainly do with your assistance. Every donation is 100% tax-deductible, and the 30 June is coming ever closer.

Yours for our Children,
Warwick Marsh

PS: Some exciting news. We are having a Dads4Kids Family Webinar at 8PM, Tuesday 23 June 2020. Special guests include Dave Hodgson, father, grandfather, businessman, and former SAS soldier from South Africa; Dr Allan Meyer, author of Valiant Man; and Darren Lewis, the force behind Fathering Adventures. These guys have a lot of wisdom to share. Book now as space is limited. REGISTER HERE.

[Photo by Vicky Sim on Unsplash]

About the Author: Warwick Marsh

Warwick Marsh has been married to Alison Marsh since 1975; they have five children and nine grandchildren, and he and his wife live in Wollongong in NSW, Australia. He is a family and faith advocate, social reformer, musician, TV producer, writer and public speaker. Warwick is a leader in the Men’s and Family Movement, and he is well-known in Australia for his advocacy for children, marriage, manhood, family, fatherhood and faith. Warwick is passionate to encourage men to be great fathers and to know the greatest Father of all. The Father in Whom “there is no shadow of turning.”


  1. […] last data we have appears to be from 2005. 13 per cent of babies in that year were born without a father in the home. For the most part, these children are likely to have been born into low-income […]

  2. […] of it positive good for us and glory for Himself. … Suffering makes us want to go to heaven. Broken homes and broken hearts crush our illusions that earth can keep its promises, that it can really satisfy. […]

  3. Daffy October 22, 2021 at 2:04 pm - Reply

    Tangentially to the article, I heard a ‘pubtest’ segment on WS-FM this morning where Jonesy, the feller, told Amanda, the woman, about his attending a ‘wetting the baby’s head’ outing. Amanda objected that he’d gone out to be with some friends, leaving wife and baby at home. I hope the father had properly ensured his wife and child were OK and/or had company, but Amanda’s objections went right past new father’s huge need for male support. Most women don’t understand male support. They seem to think it has to be a deep and serious conversation, as per their. But I think men support each other in being able to relax and zone out talking about: cars, work, earthmoving, tractors, engines, beer, whisky, beer, wine, beer, the latest tea flavours. It’s just being with other blokes and being accepted that is the great bonding agent. Sure, sometimes it gets all ‘personal’. But it’s always been ‘personal’. Some new fathers do need lots of support from wiser heads, particularly if their wife is having a hard time and cannot cope, paradoxically the more she needs him the more he needs a relief valve.
    This is a topic that needs real exploration.

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