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NPO publishes blog articles to inform and to stimulate conversation about issues of importance to NPO's mission.  All blog articles express the opinions of the authors as individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of National Parents Organization, its Board of Directors, or its executives.  

July 22nd, 2012 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
In  comedy, so the saying goes, timing is everything.  If that’s true, the joke’s on Sir Alan Beith of England’s Liberal Democratic Party who only three days ago came out strongly against what was once his party’s platform on fathers.  Two years ago, the Lib Dems promised to support shared parenting and equal parenting, but, in response to the government’s proposal to promote meaningful relationships between fathers and their children post-divorce, Beith made the astonishing claim that taking even such a modest step would not be in children’s interests.  He therefore staunchly opposes the government’s recommendation without even hinting at what should be done to improve the crisis of fatherlessness in the country or enhance father-child relationships.   Put simply, Beith agrees with so many of the anti-dad crowd who claim, against all the evidence, that the interests of fathers and those of children are opposed.  Nothing could be further from the truth, but when you’re babbling anti-father/anti-child propaganda, the truth long since ceased to matter.

But, as I said, the joke’s on Beith.  In his letter of opposition to any change in British family law that could possibly improve children’s contact with their fathers, Beith said this:

“To promote shared parenting through legislation undermines the paramount principle of the welfare of the child …”

But a single day later, this study was released showing the exact opposite (Doctor’s Lounge, 7/19/12).

A father’s strong connection with his child during infancy may reduce the risk of behavioral problems later in life, a new study suggests.

British researchers looked at nearly 200 families and found that children whose fathers were more positively engaged with them at age 3 months had fewer behavioral problems when they were 1 year old.

The association between higher levels of interaction and fewer subsequent behavioral problems was strongest in sons. This suggests that boys are more susceptible to the influence of their father from a very early age, the University of Oxford researchers said…

Behavioral problems are the most common psychological issue in children and are associated with a wide range of problems during the teen years and adulthood, including doing poorly in school, delinquent behavior, difficulty making friends and poor mental and physical health, the researchers noted in the release.

The new findings suggest that efforts to improve parent-child interaction early in life may help prevent behavioral problems, the researchers said.

“Focusing on the infant’s first few months is important, as this is a crucial period for development and the infant is very susceptible to environmental influences, such as the quality of parental care and interaction,” [Dr. Paul] Ramchandani said.

Perfect timing for showing Beith to be a buffoon.  It turns out that dad’s involvement early in his child’s life is vital to its emotional/psychological well-being a year later as well as in adolescence and even adulthood.  Dad’s contact with his children isn’t a matter to be tossed aside the way countless family courts do every day.  In fact, it’s necessary to children’s welfare, particularly that of boys.  If Beith would like to notice the obvious, boys in the UK, like boys in the United States, are performing poorly in school.  That’s almost certainly a product, at least in part, of fatherless upbringing.  A U.S. study late last year reported that boys raised by single mothers are detrimentally impacted by the lack of a father far more than are girls.  The study’s authors at the University of Chicago surmised that “It is possible that single mothers invest disproportionately less in their sons, or feel less warm toward them,” said the study. “Indeed, we show that single mothers seem relatively more emotionally distant from their sons and are also more likely to have reported spanking their sons.”

With single-mother households making up over 30% of all families with children, it should come as no surprise that boys are lagging in school.  The family court system grants mothers enormous power to deny fathers to their children and, unsurprisingly, many of them do just that.  The result is fatherless boys who go on to do poorly in school, have behavioral problems throughout life, be more likely to commit crimes, abuse drugs or alcohol, and the like.

The particular study cited above is new, but the message is not.  Children, particularly boys, need fathers in their lives, but, without exception, every move to improve father-child contact is opposed by powerful anti-father/anti-child lobbies, of which Sir Alan Beith is plainly a member.  Without ever explaining why keeping fathers out of their children’s lives is a good thing, the anti-dad crowd never fails to block even the most modest of reforms.  By now it must be said that fatherlessness is the policy of these governments; if it weren’t, they’d change.  They’d take note of the mountains of scientific evidence that demands that both parents play meaningful roles in their children’s lives and legislate accordingly.  But they don’t.  If we hadn’t known all this for decades, those governments would have an excuse, but we have and they don’t.  Children, particularly boys, suffer, fathers suffer, mothers suffer and society suffers, and all because governments are too weak, too craven to turn on the anti-father lot and say once and for all “you’ve done enough damage.”

There’s nothing funny about that.

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