Los Angeles, CA–Kathleen Parker’s Save the Males criticizes the way “men, maleness, and fatherhood have been under siege in American culture for decades.”
In the following excerpt from her chapter “Our Fathers, Our Selves,” Parker discusses the damage that divorcing mothers and family law courts do to children when they limit fathers’ role in their lives after divorce or separation. Parker writes:
Seeing one”s dad fifty days a year–the average number of days children of divorce see their biological father–can”t be compared with having a father in-house, day-to-day. It”s an unnatural relationship, often awkward, in which fathers try to jam the month they missed into a single weekend. Never mind the impossibility of consistency in boundaries and discipline.
Experience teaches that we develop our sense of “self’ from the ways in which we interact with both our same-sex and our opposite sex parents. Further, our success in future relationships hinges to some degree on how we navigate those first relationships. One does not need to be a psychotherapist to reckon that a girl abandoned by her father will have trouble trusting men or relating to them in healthy ways as an adult.
A boy without a father will have trouble learning that he belongs to the fraternity of men and, in the absence of a strong male role model, may over identify with Mother. How does a boy learn to be a father when he has none to show him?
And finally, if fatherhood doesn”t matter, how can we expect boys and young men to aspire to become responsible fathers someday? The answer is, we can”t.
Daughters have been especially wounded by the men bad/daddy lousy story they”ve heard from their mothers and the wider culture. How does a little girl reconcile her love of her first “hero’ with the antihero messages all around her?
Interestingly, we seem to accept that children shouldn”t be raised without mothers, but we regard the contributions of fathers as optional seasoning, as though children are little casseroles, especially tasty with a pinch of Dad, but guests will hardly notice if you leave him out.
Parker, a syndicated columnist who is published in over 300 newspapers every week, is concerned about the decline of fatherhood, and has favorably covered many of our action campaigns.
These include: Campaign Protesting Fox’s Reality Show Bad Dads; Campaign Protesting Florida DCF’s Mistreatment of Loving Father in ‘Elian Gonzalez II’ Case; Campaign Against PBS’s Father-Bashing Breaking the Silence; and Campaign Against ‘Boys are Stupid’ Products.