Monday, June 23, 2008

Disappearing Fathers

NPR and Fox News commentator Juan Williams asked Where Are the Fathers? in his column for Father's Day. The statistics he presents are shocking. One can only ask if this is yet another sad manifestation of the 1960s sex and feminist revolution. It would seem that the sexual revolution has left fathers off scot free, while women, as always is the case, must take care of the children no matter what.

The feminist drive to eliminate the division of labor between men and women in the family, hurl women into the work place, and inculcate the myth of the "independent woman" has also contributed to a condition in which it is normal for a woman to have a child out of wedlock and be left holding the bag--willingly or not. Our society seems to condone a man's irresponsibility and accept the woman's illusion that she can raise children without the father's help. The erosion of the idea of having a family as a necessary goal in life has created a vacuum in which irresponsibility on the part of both men and women can flourish.

Statistics show that single motherhood rises as the income decreases. This is a self-perpetuating spiral, since single mothers, having only one income stream, will tend to drop into the lower rungs of the economy. Hollywood, however, pushes single motherhood at every opportunity as a model for women of all classes.

Conception out of wedlock is not new in America. Both my grandmother and great-grandmother, I have discovered, were pregnant when they married, and they were middle class. In colonial times, according to A Midwife's Tale by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, when a woman was pregnant out of wedlock and had not divulged the identity of the father, the midwife would ask her to identify him when she was in the throes of labor. Although the man would not be compelled to marry the woman, he was held responsible by the community to contribute to the financial support of the child.

Ultimately, it seems to me that the notions that fostered family formation--duty, honor, adult responsibility--are becoming passe in a society that puts the onus on unconstrained individual freedom, or rather, individual gratification. Taking responsibility for the consequences of one's actions was tossed out the window with Roe vs. Wade, and now we have a presidential candidate who says he would not want his daughters "punished" by an unwanted pregnancy.

I do not know how these trends may be reversed or mitigated. One thing is for sure: many babies, toddlers, little children, youngsters, and teenagers are all paying the price.


Anonymous said...

Kay Hymowitz wrote Marriage and Caste in America

and she has a recent article on teen pregnancy -

The difference worldviews makes, such as living for the pleasure of the moment vs. practicing self-denial while planning for the future -

As others have pointed out, the government now replaces the father and subsidizes illegitmate pregnancies. We get what we pay for.

Enbrethiliel said...



Our name for government big enough to attempt to replace fathers is "Mommy State". The implications are chilling . . .

Anonymous said...

My observations of three generations of America family life indicate that children endure terrible emotional suffering when they are reared in a one-parent home. Children naturally seek affirmation and love from both a mother and a father, and feel the lack of either. I would be interested in hearing from other readers about studies or books that have been published about the psychological effects of one-parent families on children.

Anonymous said...

6/27 Anon: the second link I posted above has a link to a book called Save the Males by Kathleen Parker.

Also, if you go to search on this site and type in fatherless, many links come up -

This article came to mind, by Katrina Clark, about having a sperm-donor (absentee) daddy; scroll down on the link. The article is also on the Washington Post site but this has additional links for you:

Anonymous said...

article on the importance of fathers -

Linda said...

Thank you so much for all these links to articles and information on this topic. It is frightening the degree to which the women's movement has fostered a social environment that says not only do women not need men but children don't need fathers.

Anonymous said...

Article on Mercatornet on "The new, improved, disposable father" by Jennifer Roback Morse.

Here is Roback's site, with her book: Love and Economics; It Takes a Family to Raise a Village.