Monday, November 12, 2012

Fathers are not for nothing

Supporters of "genderless parenting" are saying that whilst it might be important for a child to have two "parental figures," the genders of the "parental figures" and their relationship to the child don't much matter.

Fathers, they say, are not essential. Fathers as well as mothers are apparently disposable when it comes to their children's development.

Jenet Erickson, writing at the Witherspoon Institute, has some impressive figures to demonstrate that that just isn't true.

Decades of research on fathers, she says, demonstrate that boys from fatherless families are twice as likely to end up in prison before they reach 30. Girls raised in homes without their fathers are much more likely to engage in early sexual behaviour. Girls whose fathers left home before their daughters turned six are six times more likely to end up pregnant in their teens.

There is more abuse in homes without fathers. In one study, abuse was 10 times more likely for children in homes with their mother and an unrelated boyfriend. Children who grow up without married mothers and fathers are more likely to suffer depression, behavioural problems and school expulsion.

Andrea Doucet, who wrote a book titled Do Men Mother? after extensive research with 118 male carers, tells how after a long evening of discussion with a group of single fathers, she asked "In an ideal world, what resources or supports would you like to see for single fathers?"

She expected requests for more policies, programmes and social support. But no. After a period of awkward silence, one said "An ideal world would be one with a father and a mother. We'd be lying if we pretended that wasn't true."

But then, most of us have thought that good old-fashioned fathers - and good old-fashioned mothers - were needful all along.