Bumped scroll down for updates Good Men Project…
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Good Men Project: We can no longer ignore or downplay the ripple effect of broken families Even GMP is right once in a while.
Related: Why Aren’t We Discussing Fatherlessness?
Here we are at the beginning of an election year. We’ve had over a dozen debates between the Republicans and the Democrats. We’ve had plenty of drama. We’ve had surprising dropouts and upsets. But we have not heard any discussion of fatherlessness.
Perhaps it seems like an odd complaint, wanting to talk about dads when we have so many other problems. Besides the huge foreign policy issues of American action abroad and immigration policy on our borders, we face depressing domestic issues such as the lagging economy, rising health care expenses, the ballooning federal budget, and flailing educational achievement. But those domestic issues are actually the reasons I wonder why we are not talking about fatherlessness.
Fatherlessness is on the rise. It is causally linked to an array of social risk factors. While there are success stories in single-parent households, children raised without a father in the home are more at risk for dropping out of school, using drugs, having emotional problems, and becoming involved in crime, just to name a few.
Each of these individual risk trends can impact health care expenses, education, the budget and economy as well as public safety. Taken together they look like the root problem for many of our societal ills. The body of research confirming fathers‘importance grows. We even have studies looking at the stunning public cost of fatherlessness. Yet our politicians do not discuss fatherlessness as a policy matter.
For the Republican side, I have a theory: the “War on Women” smear hovers ominously over all Republicans, especially men. Republican politicians have been threatened to within an inch of their funding if they mention anything that could be turned into a sexist trope. But claiming that dads matter isn’t at risk of becoming a sexist trope, it is a favored sexist trope. Feminists have been turning dads into patriarchal, sexist abusers for decades. Granted, this is falling out of favor among younger feminists. Older, Boomer feminists hide their anti-male assumptions behind pro-woman rhetoric; only the younger feminists don’t like the sleight of hand. Feminists as a group, however, are just realizing their gender gap and trying to come to terms with it. While they sort that out, our politicians remain cautious. They are too afraid to discuss fatherlessness beyond personal stories.
Answer: (a) Fatherhood has lousy lobbyists in D.C. (b) Nobody’s afraid of them. (c) They’re too busy working to support their families. (d) All of the above.
UPDATE: From a related comment, “It’s a good question. Of course, she fails to ask: why aren’t we discussing the incentives government gives mothers to kick fathers out of their children’s lives?”
Good point. Earlier thoughts on federally-funded child support sweatshops here.