Stephen Baskerville and the Problem of Fatherlessness

April 1, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Stephen Bakerville overstates the case, but, after all, maybe the case needs overstatement (Daily Caller, 3/26/18). The case is the one for fathers and there is no issue more important.

Ever since the horror perpetrated by Nicholas Cruz against high school students in Parkland, Florida, among all the angst about firearms and the Second Amendment, the far more important issue of fatherlessness has emerged. Barely heard – but heard nonetheless – amid the din, the fact that 26 of the last 27 school shooters were fatherless males has garnered a bit of the public discourse.

That’s a good thing. Indeed, it’s a vital thing. Like it or not, there’s a Second Amendment that’s been interpreted by the Supreme Court to confer an individual right to possess certain types of firearms. And there is little-to-no public support for wholesale changes to either the Constitution or our laws regulating firearms.

But as yet, there’s no constitutional prohibition on fathers. And we know far too much about their value to children, women, themselves and society generally to pretend that our decades-long crisis of fatherless homes is something we can ignore.

As Baskerville so aptly points out, this isn’t the first time we’ve come to this realization.

Fatherhood was the rage during the 1990s. Spearheaded by Al Gore, the Clinton Administration started all kinds of programs to “promote fatherhood”. Scholars like David Blankenhorn and David Popenoe published influential books claiming a fatherhood crisis. The National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) and similar groups were founded here, as well as in Canada, Britain, and elsewhere…

For there was a dark side to it all. Rather than face the problem honestly, we took the easy way out by simply blaming the crisis on fathers themselves. Blankenhorn and Popenoe cheapened their books by claiming (without a shred of evidence) that fathers were abandoning their children in droves. While Gore was promoting fatherhood, his boss, Bill Clinton, was attacking fathers and having them plundered and arrested:  “We will find you!” he intoned. “We will make you pay!”

As late as 2009, I went to the website of the President of the United States and was at first pleased to find Obama’s respect for the importance of fathers. But reading further I realized that it was more of the same, more denigration of fathers while extolling their virtues. Fathers are terribly important to children, so they should stop being the callous scoundrels they are and stick by long-suffering and sainted Mom. Such was the narrative.

At the time I remarked that that take was nothing more than an easy way to avoid doing anything. After all, if the fault lay with fathers who care nothing for their kids or their responsibilities, what could government do? And so Government washed its hands of the matter.

But of course it was government that was at fault all along. From child custody orders to visitation orders to child support orders to adoption to paternity fraud to alimony, government everywhere encouraged women to leave marriages and take the kids. Unsurprisingly, they did just that. Meanwhile, study after study showed fathers to be deeply caring about their children and their role as Dad, only to be told by courts, elected officials, the press and Hollywood that their input was neither wanted nor needed.

Government largesse that had been paid to liberal client groups now went to conservative client groups, but no one ever really answered the basic question of how a government agency could “promote” either fatherhood or marriage.

Perhaps someone should have mentioned the problem of the hole. As the saying goes, “If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.” Government should have done then what it should do now – stop what it’s doing wrong. Shared parenting is the obvious first step, but there are countless others. Fatherlessness is the problem, so courts must stop removing fathers from children’s lives. You’d think that would be obvious enough, but so far it hasn’t sunk in. Baskerville adds a few necessary actions of his own, with most of which, I agree.

No expensive government programs or psychotherapeutic gimmicks are necessary. It requires simply that we enforce the Constitution, which has been all-but-discarded by all this.  Shared parenting laws would help in the short run, but more is needed. We must enforce the fundamental right of all parents to the “care, custody, and companionship” of their children, as the Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized, unless they have been found guilty of some legal transgression by due process of law. We must recognize that “no-fault” justice – in divorce or elsewhere – is an oxymoron (and clear violation of the Contract Clause) that debases legal justice and threatens a free society. We must again require that knowingly false criminal accusations are themselves a crime that must be punished. And yes, we must directly confront the political power of the massive army of judicial functionaries whose collusion has brought all this to the crisis point and who fought reform tooth-and-nail the first time:  judges, lawyers, social workers, forensic psychotherapists, the radical feminists who pressure them, and others with a vested interest in taking control of other people’s children and using them as weapons to augment their earnings and power.

To his credit, Baskerville grasps the importance of fathers, not just to their families, but to everyone.

I have laid a lot at the door of fatherlessness: degeneration of our social order, financial solvency, and judicial integrity. But it is precisely because so much is at stake that our would-be reformers have lost their nerve when they realize the herculean task they face. We will need leaders of courage and strength – not only politicians but journalists, scholars, clergy, and above all the ordinary householders who are not only the basic strength of a democracy but who are also themselves, in this case, the main targets under attack.

It can’t be said often enough.




National Parents Organization is a Shared Parenting Organization

National Parents Organization is a non-profit that educates the public, families, educators, and legislators about the importance of shared parenting and how it can reduce conflict in children, parents, and extended families. Along with Shared Parenting we advocate for fair Child Support and Alimony Legislation. Want to get involved?  Here’s how:

Together, we can drive home the family, child development, social and national benefits of shared parenting, and fair child support and alimony. Thank you for your activism.


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