Alexander's Column

Who Needs a Father?

'It Takes a Village' to Raise a Child? Really?

By Mark Alexander · Jun. 16, 2011
“It is the duty of parents to maintain their children decently, and according to their circumstances; to protect them according to the dictates of prudence; and to educate them according to the suggestions of a judicious and zealous regard for their usefulness, their respectability and happiness.” –James Wilson

In 1996, Hillary Rodham Clinton published “It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us,” in which she asserted that organizations outside the family could meet the needs of children, and that society, her euphemism for “government,” has an obligation to meet those needs.

Part of Clinton’s thesis was correct in that millions of children are victimized when their parents do not fulfill parental obligations. Unfortunately, the rest of her thesis suggests that parenthood can be outsourced.

Some 15 years later, Barack Hussein Obama and his socialist cadres are fast-tracking the redefinition of “marriage and family,” which, in effect, perpetuates the neglect of children, thus necessitating institutional solutions.

Not surprisingly, the Left’s primary mode for indoctrinating neglected children with the “village model” is government schools. “The education of all children,” as Karl Marx wrote, “from the moment that they can get along without a mother’s care, shall be in state institutions at state expense.” (Note: He never even mentioned the “father’s care.”) Marx’s disciple, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, concurred: “Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.”

Obama understands that to “fundamentally transform America” into a socialist state, the Left must successfully destabilize the three pillars of Essential Liberty: Individual Liberty, Economic Liberty and Constitutional Liberty.

Founder James Wilson once described an indispensable common denominator supporting each of these pillars: “[T]hat important and respectable, though small and sometimes neglected establishment, which is denominated a family … the principle of the community; it is that seminary, on which the commonwealth … must ultimately depend.”

If the pillars of Essential Liberty, which have suffered much degradation in recent decades, are to be strengthened, then the place to start is within our families, and most particularly with fathers.

Marriage is the foundation for the family, which in turn, serves as the foundation for a free society. This principle is especially embodied in the spirit of natural law upon which our Republic is founded.

In 295 B.C., Mencius wrote, “The root of the kingdom is in the state. The root of the state is in the family. The root of the family is in the person of its head.”

When fathers do not take on their parental responsibilities, broken marriages and families are the result. These, in turn, lead to broken societies.

Thus, the failure of fatherhood has much more than mere social or cultural consequences; it is a menacing national security threat. The collective social pathology of the fatherless presents a great obstacle to Liberty and the survival of our republican form of government as outlined by our Constitution.

Father’s Day should thus be a call to action. Indeed, the majority of social entropy afflicting our nation today originates in homes without fathers, which definition includes those without functioning or effective fathers.

Currently, almost 60 percent of black children, 32 percent of Hispanic children and 21 percent of white children live in single-parent homes. (See Bill Cosby’s “Truth about Black America.”) According to the CDC, DoJ, DHHS and the Bureau of the Census, children who live apart from their fathers account for 63 percent of teen suicides, 70 percent of juveniles in state-operated institutions, 71 percent of high-school dropouts, 75 percent of children in chemical-abuse centers, 80 percent of rapists, 85 percent of youths in prison, 85 percent of children who exhibit behavioral disorders, and 90 percent of homeless and runaway children. (When these children become “adults,” the social consequences become even worse.)

Generationally, daughters who have been abandoned by their fathers are seven times more likely to have children as teenagers and 92 percent more likely to divorce.

A successful fatherhood begins with a healthy marriage. To be good fathers, we must first be good husbands.

I have been blessed with many mentors, including Dr. Jim Lee, director of Living Free ministries. Jim taught me that the Christian marriage paradigm is built on a foundation of five principles: “First, God is the creator of the marriage relationship; second, heterosexuality is God’s pattern for marriage; third, monogamy is God’s design for marriage; fourth, God’s plan for marriage is for physical and spiritual unity; and fifth, marriage was designed to be permanent.”

Concern about marital infidelity and the consequences for children are timeless. John Adams wrote in his diary on 2 June 1778, “The foundation of national morality must be laid in private families. … How is it possible that Children can have any just Sense of the sacred Obligations of Morality or Religion if, from their earliest Infancy, they learn their Mothers live in habitual Infidelity to their fathers, and their fathers in as constant Infidelity to their Mothers?”

I note here that while most fatherless homes are the result of neglect on the part of fathers, an increasing number of fatherless homes result from mothers who separate without reasonable grounds from the fathers of their children.

Fortunately, some young people reared by a single parent, or in critically dysfunctional or impoverished homes, overcame that impediment. Either they were blessed with a parent who, against all but insurmountable odds, instilled them with the values and virtues of good citizenship or, somewhere along the way, those children were lifted out of their misery by some other grace of God – often in the form of a significant mentor who modeled individual responsibility and good character.

However, the vast majority of children from homes without fathers are not so fortunate, as statistically confirmed above.

Of course, some fatherless children successfully fill the “daddy deficit” by becoming overachievers in the corporate, political or sports arenas, and not usually in a Rule of Law way. A textbook case study would be Barry Obama.

On the official White House website, the bio for Obama claims, “His story is the American story – values from the heartland, a middle-class upbringing in a strong family…” While this is certainly the image Obama would like to project, it is most certainly not accurate. Like so many Leftists, his roots are shallow and broken, and they are in no way a reflection of “values from the heartland.”

In effect, Obama is the consummate poster child for the consequences of fatherlessness. Though his pathological narcissism has driven him to the most powerful political post on the planet, the phony façade of “a middle-class upbringing” has all but worn away.

The fate of fatherless children like Obama is, at best, a broken heart. At worst, it is the root cause of contemporary American social entropy. It is also the greatest threat to Essential Liberty as established by natural law, because, I would argue, it is directly linked to the broken faith of the fatherless. Broken trust with earthly fathers often results in a lack of trust in our Heavenly Father, our Creator.

On this Father’s Day, let us pay tribute to the irreplaceable and inseparable institutions of marriage and fatherhood – and the importance of a father’s love, discipline, provision and protection for his family. Every day of the year, let those of us who are fathers encourage other fathers to be accountable for their marriages and children. Let us seek to mentor the fatherless by volunteering leadership through our places of worship, youth groups, scouting, coaching, tutoring, or working through inner-city ministries with high-risk kids, to name just a few.

As for me, I was blessed with a loving and dependable father, who I profiled a couple years ago in a Memorial Day essay, “The Class of ‘44.” By extension, it is a privilege beyond all others to be a husband to Ann and father of three. Indeed, no reward could be greater than the close relationship I enjoy with my children, and to see their steady progress as Patriots-in-training – as responsible young citizens committed to carrying forward the flame of Liberty.

Above all, the greatest inheritance I hope to leave my children is not material, but spiritual.

(For excellent information on fatherhood and parenting, visit the resource and research sections of First Things First, an outstanding organization under the leadership of my friend Julie Baumgardner. There are very good national fathering initiatives like Tony Dungy’s All Pro Dad. James Dobson’s Focus on the Family has great resources, as does the National Center for Fathering and the National Fatherhood Initiative.)