The evidence is actually pretty clear. Kids are significantly (and unfairly) disadvantaged (to use a euphemistic word for “hurt”) when they don’t have positive, consistent, reliable, present fathers. The absence of fathers causes confusion, distress, distorted relationships, and large-scale societal breakdown, in addition to such a wide variety of other effects as to be staggering.
Non-partisan groups and even those partisan groups who are normally inclined to disagree with each other, all agree about this. The research is overwhelming trending toward sickening. It’s important to be clear too, that the research specifically discusses the involvement of a male parent, rather than a merely androgynous second parent, a void which could be filled by either sex.
Presumably something similar could be said about the necessity of a female parent, but discounting those women who neglect/abuse/murder their children, women are less inclined to be deadbeats. That is to say, it’s significantly less likely that children would grow up without mothers, so there isn’t as much evidence for the negative impacts of not having a mother. Thankfully, I think every person on the planet is willing to grant that mothers are important. No one wants to find out what would happen without them.
Unfortunately, as I’ve already said, we as a society are almost eager to find out what will happen if we eliminate fathers. We may say otherwise, but our actions betray us.
I digress. Back to the overwhelming evidence that children need fathers, combined with the assumption I think we’ll all happily grant, that children need mothers. Even more research suggests the rather obvious fact that children are best served when their fathers and mothers have a healthy relationship with each other. In fact, once you add the weight of research about the damaging effects of divorce, it’s pretty clear that children’s best hope is to have mothers and fathers who have a consistent and reliably healthy relationship with each other over the course of the child’s entire development.
There’s not really anything shocking about any of this. I mean, it’s shocking that we’ve let the problem get to the point that we have, but it isn’t shocking that the problem exists, and nobody significantly disagrees about its causes.
What’s more shocking is what we do about it.
Let me put this bluntly. All the evidence clearly indicates that children are hurt if they don’t grow up in a committedly monogamous heterosexual family, and that society follows them into distress. We respond by ignoring that entirely and hoping for the best. Of course there are situations where the ideal isn’t possible; I’m not trying to criticize people if their situation is imperfect. I’m criticizing all of us for accepting the lie that the ideal isn’t necessary or helpful.
The results are in: denial isn’t working. We have too many contradictory commitments.
We want men to be fathers, but we don’t want to offend women by suggesting that men are in any way capable of doing or being something which they (women) cannot do or be. In fact we want to avoid any suggestion that there’s a difference between them sufficient to perhaps treat them differently. We certainly don’t want to suggest that the women who are mothers might in any way need the men who are fathers.
The collapse of fatherhood is exactly the product of those second commitments though. To be blunt again, for a hundred years feminists have said that they don’t need men, that they can do anything men can do, that there is nothing special or unique about being a man. Should we be surprised that so many men have listened? That so many men have left women to fend for themselves, have left women to do what men ought to do, have stopped believing that they have anything special to offer.
We want children to see healthy relationship between their mothers and fathers, but we don’t want to believe that men and women might both have unique and important contributions to relationships. We want children to have families, but we don’t want to offend anyone by suggesting that they curtail their sexual impulses until they’re in some way committed to their partner.
I could go on, but I’m out of time again. It’s pretty clear which of the contradictory commitments we favor. The question remains: how long will we keep trying to preserve the helpful things our commitments won’t allow? How long will we delude ourselves into thinking that maybe we can preserve social institutions which we’ve entirely gutted, like fatherhood and family? How long until we accept that all of our supposed liberations are in fact the problem we face?