March 15, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
The excellent Warren Farrell has recently released his book, The Boy Crisis. Rachel Alexander reviewed it here (Town Hall, 3/6/18). As the name indicates, the book isn’t just about family courts and the damage they do to kids and dads alike. But needless to say, Farrell doesn’t ignore that part of the problem.
Unsurprisingly, the removal of fathers from children’s lives serves no one well.
[I]n all 63 of the largest developed nations, boys are falling behind girls in all academic subjects – especially the biggest predictors of success, reading and writing, in their mental health (depression, suicides), physical health (lower sperm counts), IQ, ability to create friends, and so on.
That’s bad for boys and the men they grow into of course, but it’s also bad for girls and women.
Farrell observes, “Whenever only one sex wins, both sexes lose.” For every girl who turns out well, she’ll have a boyfriend or son whose issues she must deal with. Even if you do not have children, you are paying for the boy crisis in taxes – boys on welfare, in prison, unemployed, joining ISIS, doing school shootings. As Farrell puts it, "Boys who hurt, hurt us.”
I’ve said it many times. The scourge of fatherlessness impacts many areas of life and society from crime to addiction to poor education to unemployment to suicide and beyond. And we all pay, literally with taxes, and figuratively with a fraying social fabric.
Farrell brings out some fascinating insights from studies that most people are unaware of. Not only do boys do better with fathers than mothers, but girls do better with fathers too. This is true at all ages, even when the dad has no advantage in income.
Right. Both boys and girls need both parents in their lives. The problem is that courts separate children from their fathers to keep them with mothers, sidelining Dad. And that problem arises among all demographics. Affluent kids suffer fatherlessness the same as do poorer ones. The problem of fatherlessness crosses all boundaries of race, class, income, religion and educational level. Courts produce fatherlessness without need and without justification. Adoption agencies, child support systems, the failure to enforce visitation, paternity fraud and the news media and popular culture all contribute to the marginalization of fathers in children’s lives.
Farrell, a former board member in NYC of the National Organization of Women, says the women’s movement did a great job expanding the options for women in the last half century, framing discrimination as women not being able to be equally involved in the workplace. But no one changed the public consciousness about the discrimination being faced by men desiring to enter the world of their children, the home place.
True enough, but dare I say that countless people and organizations have been trying to do that for many years? Warren Farrell of course has been one of them. By now there are dozens and dozens of organizations across the country devoting themselves to doing exactly that. I, for one, do it every day of the week. The issue is not the lack of effort, nor is it the lack of solid science backing up our position, nor is it the lack of a moral imperative. All those are present and accounted for. Our culture seems quite content for women to branch out from their traditional roles as wife, mother and keeper of the home into the world of paid work, politics and the like. But the resistance to fathers stepping out of their traditional role of resource provider is another story altogether. That resistance makes no sense and it is that very lack that gives it its salience. Why do we persist in such patently dysfunctional behavior, particularly when our public narrative trumpets the virtues of gender equality?
And no one confronted the 53 percent of women under 30 who have children without being married as to their denial of the rights of the children to have both parents.
Hmm. Actually, we did. At least as far back as when Dan Quayle was Vice President, the issue of single motherhood has been raised. Barbara Defoe Whitehead did so in a lengthy and powerful article in The Atlantic in 1993. Organizations like the Institute for Family Studies routinely promote the virtues of marriage and its benefits for children, fathers and mothers.
But, like the research on shared parenting, so far our culture has chosen to ignore the facts and follow a destructive path.
Warren Farrell is one of the many stalwarts who, like the biblical prophets, decry the wrongs done by a culture in decline.
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Together, we can drive home the family, child development, social and national benefits of shared parenting, and fair child support and alimony. Thank you for your activism.
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