The World Needs Fathers
We're living in a very confusing time. For whatever reason, we've stopped seeing people as uniquely beautiful, each with something to offer. Domestic violence is alarmingly high, pornography and human trafficking is arguably more prevalent than ever, rates of absentee fathers are through the roof, and marriage is no longer permanent, but stable for as long as each spouse is sufficiently benefited.
I read a terrible story last summer. A 12 year-old boy invited a neighbor boy to the local park and stabbed him to death. The boy committed the heinous crime thinking that he himself was a "bad kid" and deserved to be punished. He's being tried as an adult, the youngest murder suspect in the county's history, and has little hope of ever being able to reintegrate into society. What is the real reason that causes as 12 year old to commit murder? The answer lies in the felony child abuse charges filed against his parents. All cases are still pending.
As we've adopted rugged individualism as our credo, we've forced to the margins not only centuries of traditions that are found in every culture around the world, but also the best social science. The unfortunate discussion about the possibility of an abortion is placed squarely on the shoulders of a desperate mother, the opinion of the father is both legally and socially irrelevant. Even worse, far too often the father is nowhere to be found. Individualism tells us that we can do everything on our own, but the fact remains that as social beings, we do much better in community.
Social science tells us that fatherlessness is a catastrophe. Single parent homes are the greatest indicator of poverty. Men who are married before having children have extremely low instances of poverty. According to every large scale study, children who grow up with both of their biological parents are generally happier and better adjusted than their peers who did not have their father in their life.
So while we've been on the march to marginalize fathers and reduce them to nothing more than an aid to begin the cycle of human reproduction, we've made two grave errors. First, we've softened societal pressures for fathers to stay with mothers. Second, we dismissed the intrinsic value that fathers have to offer to their wives and to their children.
At the root of the problem of growing fatherlessness is our separation of sex from marriage and kids. Sex's objective is two-fold: it creates an organic bodily union that unites the minds and bodies of a married couple and second, it provides the means to complete the reproductive cycle that neither male nor female can accomplish on their own. As we've removed sex from marriage, and consequently, kids from sex, we've created a hook-up culture. Teens and young adults are engaging in pre-marital sex at high rates and the prevalence of contraceptives has only fed the machine. Sex is all about what one can gain personally and not have to "worry" about potentially conceiving a child. Of course, this is a lie and we see that reflected both in teen pregnancy and abortion rates.
The hook-up culture has done more than promote sex. It has promoted an idea that sex is about self-gratification and power. One partner is supposed to dominate the other, disregarding their personhood and dignity in the pursuit of satisfaction and pleasure. As a result, we see increased rates of sexual assaults. In the criminal justice system, sexual crimes are the 2nd most heinous crime that can be committed, the most heinous being murder. Yet, the culture has created an atmosphere that intimidates victims into silence, allowing some of the most violent people among us to walk free, able to strike again.
As our conjugal view of marriage erodes and is replaced by the revisionist view, there's less societal pressure to keep a man around when a child is conceived. We celebrate the sexual man and his many conquests, and we tolerate it when he refuses to provide material support to the child he helped create. This is why marriage is so important. It's a societal construct that grants permanence and stability to a family, ensuring that all members are cared for materially and emotionally. Sex creates kids, so if a couple isn't prepared for the lifelong responsibility and commitment that comes with raising a child, they should abstain.
When it comes to raising a child, fathers do make a difference. Both mothers and fathers have unique traits, talents, and abilities. They complement each other nicely allowing for a holistic approach to child rearing. While some single parent homes are tragically unavoidable, in homes where the mother and father live together, the father absolutely plays an important role. Fathers bring stability and security to the family. With the commitment to be around and help with the raising of the children, a mother's stress level can be significantly reduced. Fathers, by their presence and by their active involvement, can contribute to a happier life for the mother.
Even more importantly, fathers model fatherhood to children. Children must learn everything, and what they learn is passed on to future generations. So if a young boy has a disengaged father, he's likely to be a disengaged father. If a young boy has an alcoholic father, he's likely to be an alcoholic. It's possible for one bad father to have an effect felt generations down the line.
As fathers, we have something to offer. We have a right, and a duty, to be actively involved in supporting and rearing our children. We have gifts and talents that our wives don't have and that our children deserve to benefit from. Dads make a difference, so be a great one!