I’ve written before about the concept of fathers being replaced by the state.
We know, for example, that about 40% of children in this country are born to single mothers. We also know that women have dramatically increased their presence in the workplace over the past four decades. So with women working and no father around, who’s going to take care of the children? Daycare is one answer, and that of course receives hefty subsidies from government sources. Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for daycare, but the fact remains that the combination of single motherhood and government-subsidized daycare adds up to the state standing in for fathers, whatever the reason.
I’ve also written about foster care. An Urban Institute Study shows that state child protective services routinely fail to locate or even look for fathers of children taken from their mothers because of abuse or neglect. CPS agencies choose to place children with foster parents or in group homes rather than ascertain whether a child’s father is able and willing to care for it. Again, the state, not the father, decides what his relationship to his child will be.
The adoption scenario is similar. States enact a variety of laws to ensure that, when a child is placed for adoption, the father’s right to notice and the ability to contest the adoption is as limited as possible. As before, the state stands in for the father, and waives his rights for him.
Those are scarcely the only situations in which the state shoves aside fathers and makes decisions about parenting for them.
Here‘s another and I must say it’s one I never saw coming (CBC, 4/7/09).
A Canadian man and woman got divorced. The man got custody of the daughter, age 12. She was scheduled to go on a school outing for which the mother gave permission. But the girl disobeyed the father about the amount of time she was spending on the Internet, so he grounded her. That would have meant she couldn’t go on the school trip.
So the daughter sued the father for grounding her. I’m not making this up, believe me. In a sane world of course, the court would throw out that case in record time, but we don’t live in a sane world. Far from dismissing the child’s claims, the court ruled in her favor and an appellate court upheld the ruling. The court simply substituted its version of parenting for the father’s saying that his punishment was too severe for the wrongs the girl committed.
Oh, the next time she wants to go to a movie or a sleepover, he’ll know to ask the judge’s opinion first. I hope he got the judge’s home phone number so the next time the girl has a sore throat he can call and find out whether to keep her home from school.
Actually, it doesn’t look like there’ll be a next time. The girl now lives with her mother and doesn’t have much of a relationship with her father. As the dad’s attorney, Kim Beaudoin said, “he doesn’t have authority over his child anymore. She sued him because she doesn’t respect his rules. It’s very hard to raise a child who is the boss.”
Beaudoin added, “Is this what we want in our society?”
More and more, the answer is “yes.”