March 23, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
Co-founder of Leading Women for Shared Parenting and longtime friend of the National Parents Organization, Terry Brennan began his series on fatherlessness in the United States this past Monday in The Daily Caller (Daily Caller, 3/19/18). Brennan is one of the most knowledgeable people in the world about fatherlessness and one of our most dogged and effective activists. His series of articles is a must-read for anyone looking to educate themselves about the panoply of issues that cluster around fatherlessness and family courts.
In his first, he sketches the outlines of the problem, quoting Missouri Senator Mike Cunningham thus:
“I want to share a couple of the statistics the senator presented during his presentation to the committee. As many as 71 percent of all high school students who are drop outs, come from a home where the father was not present in their life. The statistics of the effects of not having a father in the home are startling, and include:
85 percent of all youth in prison come from fatherless homes;
63 percent of youth suicides are from fatherless homes;
71 percent of pregnant teenagers lack a father in the home; and
90 percent of runaways or homeless teens are from fatherless homes.”
That of course is far from all the social and personal deficits occasioned by growing up without a father. We’ve known those for decades now. But father absence doesn’t exist in a vacuum.
Pointedly, former US Representative George Radanovich wrote:
“0 percent of the 537 elected federal officials in Washington D.C. fully understand the relationship between the fatherless child and government costs; that dedicated parenting is essential to the pursuit of happiness and the lack thereof is the common denominator of the runaway cost of government”.
I’ve been beating that drum for years now. Law and public policy actively, even enthusiastically, promote fatherlessness at every turn. Fatherlessness is implicated in a host of ills that the same people who passed the laws and create public policy then spend countless billions of dollars to address. Make sense? If those elected officials in Washington don’t understand the connection between fatherlessness, societal dysfunction and a bloated federal budget, they have only themselves to blame. The information is out there. Hey they can give me a call any time; I’ll be glad to explain it to them.
But even if elected officials were educated, what, if anything, could be done to address the fatherlessness?
Answer: A lot.
To a huge degree, the problem of fatherlessness is one created by public policy that, for over four decades has peddled a patently false narrative that kids are better off without fathers, that men are dangerous to women and children, that children only need one parent, etc. That narrative was wrong in its inception and it’s wrong now. The only difference between the mid-70s and 2018 is that we now have abundant proof that broken families are bad for everyone, the public purse not excepted.
What can be done? It’s vital to understand that we can only do what we can do. If a man is determined to not be a father to his children, there’s realistically nothing we can do to force him. Fortunately, the great majority of fathers aren’t of that kind. As countless studies and surveys demonstrate, most dads want to be loving, devoted, present and hands-on parents. Indeed, even the poorest, youngest and least-educated fathers cite parenthood as the thing that most motivates them, the thing in which they find their identity.
But if public policy has created fatherlessness, public policy can – and must – reverse the trend. To do so will mean a clear understanding of what produces fatherlessness. Most importantly, fatherlessness is produced by laws and courts that separate fathers from children. Divorce courts do so, but so do child support courts, adoption courts and domestic violence courts. As long as judges assume mothers to be important to children and fathers to be at best sources of income, we’ll have fatherless kids. As long as adoption laws bend heaven and earth to remove potentially fit, loving fathers from their children’s lives, we’ll have fatherless kids. The same holds true for courts that jail fathers for the sin of losing a job or yelling at a wife in a fit of distress.
But the law and courts aren’t the only factors promoting fatherlessness. The various communications media and popular culture bear a huge weight of responsibility too. For decades now we’ve shouted to the heavens that fathers are no good, liars, cheaters, violent, dangerous to women and children alike, lazy and without value to themselves, others or society. The movies, television, advertising and even children’s books have parroted the same line. Why we’ve allowed such a narrative to persist is anyone’s guess, but, after a couple of generations, even fathers may have come to believe it, at least in part.
So another thing we can do is start singing a different tune. Politicians need to learn the facts and start repeating them. Family values need to become a real part of our political discourse, not just talking points to be forgotten the minute the votes are counted. Television and movies need to start telling the truth about fathers and intact families – that all children need two parents, that women and children are better off financially and emotionally when Dad is around, that women and children are safer in a family with a father and husband than anywhere else.
When we start to do the above, we’ll see an acceptance of that message that’s wider-spread than anything that attended the anti-father narrative with which we’re all so familiar. People generally know the truth and are hungry to hear it. The truth has a ring to it that falsehood can never match.
For now though, read Terry Brennan’s series in The Daily Caller. Terry knows and tells the truth. We don’t get a lot of that these days.
National Parents Organization is a Shared Parenting Organization
National Parents Organization is a non-profit that educates the public, families, educators, and legislators about the importance of shared parenting and how it can reduce conflict in children, parents, and extended families. Along with Shared Parenting we advocate for fair Child Support and Alimony Legislation. Want to get involved? Here’s how:
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.