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Boston, MA--Ah the life of the syndicated columnist.  Say nothing in 500-700 words twice a week and get paid to do it. This piece by Ellen Goodman spends a lot of words mewling about Michelle Obama and the trials of being First Lady (The Boston Globe, 1/16/09).  But eventually she gets down to her topic which is how the new president can improve families in this country.  Her recommendation:  increase the number of employers required to provide family leave by decreasing the required number of employees in workplaces covered by the law from 50 to 25. Yep, that'll take care of it. But connecting fathers to children, enforcement of visitation rights, shared parenting, confronting the culture's denigration of dads, teaching parenting skills to boys and young men, notice to fathers in adoption cases, parental kidnapping, a sane child-support system, mandatory DNA testing, requiring mothers to actually inform fathers of the existence of their children?  Not a peep. In Goodman's world, if you want to do a piece on the family, spend a lot of time talking about Michelle Obama's fashion choices and not a word about fathers.  Ignore the elephant in the room while carefully examining the mouse. And let's be clear.  Unless Ellen Goodman was born yesterday, she knows something about the issues I mentioned above.  Or at least she knows they are issues.  So her decision to omit them from her piece is not just ignorance or an oversight.  It's a conscious decision to sideline fathers in the discussion about families. And, as I've said before, when you push fathers out of families, someone still has to care for the children and that someone is Mom.  And when Mom does more of the childcare, she does less of the work that pays.  And that means she earns less, saves less and is more at risk of poverty in old age. The Ellen Goodmans of the world don't seem to get that basic fact, and until they do, women will earn less than men and children will grow up without fathers. What Goodman really endorses comes in her last line quoting the President-Elect: 'if Mom is happy, everybody's happy.'  To Goodman, "That sounds like a pretty good national policy." It looks like a long four years.

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