Alexander's Column

'Fathers linked to healthy families'

Mark Alexander · Jun. 16, 2006

Headlines such as the one above this essay should be relegated to the “Keen Sense of the Obvious” files. What cadre of nescient dolts does not already know that fathers are essential to healthy families, and who among us would waste good money on a study to affirm that which is so abundantly clear?

Alas, certain enlightened folks out there insist that holding the institution of fatherhood in high esteem is tantamount to misogyny. In fact, many liberals have, for the past four decades, insisted that mothers can do it all. One of the high priestesses of the so-called women’s movement, Gloria Steinem, once declared, “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.” And last fall, uber leftist Feminista Maureen Dowd published a book entitled, “Are Men Necessary?” which has become the manifesto of the man-hating movement.

Worse yet, academicians are spending large sums of your tax dollars to research this very question, despite the plethora of family research indicating that children raised in homes with their biological fathers have a much higher chance of succeeding in life. Unfortunately, some 25 million American children live absent or apart from their biological fathers. Only one in five inner-city children – are in homes with their biological fathers.

Of course, many moms have no choice but to do it all. This is because many biological fathers have abdicated their responsibility for proper love, discipline, teaching, support, moral guidance and protection of their family. (Memo to divorced dads and assorted victims of feminist rage and unfair family courts: Please hold your mail – we know that women file almost 70 percent of divorces, most without any claim of abandonment, infidelity or abuse.)

The disastrous social consequences of this abdication are clearly evident and well documented. Though many single moms do manage to bring up relatively well-adjusted kids with the help of extended families, churches and schools, the correlation between social deviancy and fatherless homes is irrefutably linked.

“The lack of effective, functioning fathers is the root cause of America’s social, economic and spiritual crises,” writes Dr. Edwin Cole.

To wit, the truth – and it is a hard truth for men who have abandoned their families, but a harder truth for their children: According to the CDC, DoJ, DHHS and the Bureau of the Census, the 30 percent of children who live apart from their fathers will 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, and 85 percent of children who exhibit behavioral disorders. In addition, 90 percent of homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes. In fact, children born to unwed mothers are 10 times more likely to live in poverty as children with fathers in the home.

“[The causal link between fatherless children and crime] is so strong that controlling for family configuration erases the relationship between race and crime and between low income and crime,” notes social researcher Barbara Dafoe Whitehead. David Blankenhorn, president of the Institute for American Values, adds, “[The absence of fathers] from family life is surely the most socially consequential family trend of our era.”

So, fathers do matter – as if that were a recent revelation. In 295 BC, 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.”

Of course, the traditional family model is clearly ordained by God as evidenced throughout the Old and New Testaments. In fact, every major religion in the world recognizes an identical family order.

Our Founders understood the importance of the Christian family model. John Adams wrote, “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?”

Tragically, the pages of history – especially 20th-century history – are rife with the terrible misdeeds of those who were raised without fathers, or with abusive fathers: Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden and many others of lesser infamy.

Never let it be said, however, that the Left allows the facts to get in the way of its agenda. Indeed, a strong case can be made that liberal social policies are directly responsible for generations of fatherless children – particularly black children. And Democrats, as we have noted many times previously, have a vested interest in keeping blacks and other “victimized” constituencies dependent on the state.

This Sunday, many American families will observe Father’s Day. Yet in addition to paying tribute to the irreplaceable institution of fatherhood, we hope that these families might also determine how their fathers might extend their roles in outreach to fatherless children: By mentoring through Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Big Brothers-Big Sisters, youth groups, Boys Clubs, and Girls Incorporated; or by coaching little-league sports, or teaching in Sunday school, or becoming a school tutor, or volunteering to work with high-risk kids through inner-city ministries, to name just a few.

(For more information and resources on parenting, visit First Things First.)