Monday, June 19, 2006

FATHERS, DAY

"For a visual aid, picture Angelina Jolie - goddess/mother toting her collection of global offspring with unwed Brad-Dad in tow, shuffling along like a bashful Sherpa."

I tend to ignore the "Hallmark holidays" such as secretaries - oops, office professionals - day, grandmother's day, st Valentine's day fathers day, etc. I'm not opposed to taking special recognition of various people such as mothers, and I'm not opposed to having a day set aside where this is done officially. I just rebel against the concept of it being x official day and all the trappings and commercialization that goes along with those it. Mother's day, ultimately, ought to be every day, and having a predictable, specific day when you do more takes away from the genuine nature of one's appreciation, it seems to me.

That said, there is one advantage I can see of having specific days for specific times of appreciation, and that's having columnists and writers work up something special for the time. Mothers get plenty of attention and focus, Mother's day is almost always more noted and lauded than Father's day for a variety of reasons. But Kathleen Parker wrote a column about Fathers for the day that begins with these lines:
We've reached an odd place in Western history when a case has to be made for fatherhood, but here we are.

I'm a shameless "Daddy's girl" even though I'm well past the age of a "girl" and "Daddy" is 10 years in the grave. I'm even past grieving at this point and struggle sometimes to bring his face into focus.

What I have no trouble recalling is the power of his influence in my life and the utter impossibility of imagining a childhood without him. It's not that he was perfect - who is? - but he was mine. And because my mother died young, he was mostly mine for much of my childhood.

This particular happenstance is probably what led me to become a champion of fathers. If my father had died young instead of my mother, maybe I'd be a champion of motherhood, but I doubt it for this simple reason: Motherhood doesn't need a champion.

The sanctity of motherhood is intact and manifest, as irrefutable as the umbilical bond between mother and child. Fatherhood is something less certain. Until the advent of DNA to prove paternity, fatherhood was a bond of faith founded in trust.

She says, "The baby's yours."

He says, "I will be his father."

Unlike women, who know with inescapable certainty that they are the parent of their own child, men have had to place their faith in the integrity of their sexual partner. Thus, fatherhood was a voluntary commitment, a quintessential offering of self-sacrifice and surrender to mother and child.

His selfish interest, of course, was tied to his wish to propagate and protect his own bloodline. Even so, sticking around requires a leap of faith that borders on the mystical.

It's really rather sweet when you think about it - man surrendering his less laudable nature, tamping down his more natural inclination to play Johnny Appleseed in order to mow grass on weekends and patch skinned knees for the added privilege of working hard for little credit.

Fathers, in a word, are awesome.

Indeed. Although my father died in 1988, I still remember him as a pillar of strength and wisdom who guided me with gentle example and words (and some paddlings), a man who was looked up to by all he knew, respected, and known for his integrity and virtue. And he did it all out of love, commitment, and duty, because as we all know, men don't have to stay at home or take care of the kids.

We come up with euphamisms such as "single parent families" to describe this cruel, miserable situation, but the mothers who are in such a setting are not fooled. The website Parents Without Partners has a wide range of statistics, including these:
  • As of 2000 an estimated 13.5 million single parents had custody of 21.7 million children under 21 years of age whose other parent lived somewhere else.
  • The proportion of the population made up by married couples with children decreased from 40% in 1970 to 24% in 2000.
  • One parent families numbered over 12 million in 2000.
  • Single parent households increased from 9% in 1990 to %16 of all households by 2000
  • Of all custodial parents, 85% were mothers and 15% were fathers.
  • Single mother families increased from 7 million in 19990 to 10 million in 2000. Today 13.8 million children (23%) under 15 live with single mothers.
  • he proportion of single mother families grew to 26% and single father families grew to 5% by 2000 (from 12% and 1% respectively in 1970).
Men and their role in families and parenting have over the last few decades been downplayed or outright mocked and derided by many sources. Turn on a television and within an hour, you can almost guarantee to see at least one ad or show depicting men, especially fathers, as clueless buffoons, childlike idiots who might mean well but cannot ever seem to get it right. Moms and children come to the rescue of the hapless dad.

Mrs Parker goes on in her column to describe this effect:
Things have shifted a bit in recent years, you may have noticed, and "awesome" isn't a word you hear much in describing men, unless you've got some little moon-faced twit gaping at a guy's pecs or the angle of his jeans. More often they're deadbeats, losers, rapists, murderers and abusers. Oh, and idiots. Name a TV dad who can tie his shoes without assistance from his far-smarter wife or kid.

Fathers aren't only morons, they're expendable.

Commenters at Town Hall responded to this column:
"The even greater mystery is that men continue to sign up for the job, to sublimate themselves to the higher charge of being a father even in the face of a culture that belittles them. That's what fathers do, of course: take the grief and keep on keeping on.

Which is why we love them."
Thanks, Kathleen.

Signed,
A dad
-by FreeManDC


The best way to honor our fathers is by honoring the institution that legitimizes fatherhood. That, of course, is Marriage.

Lets start by removing anti-child, anti-family, "pro"-female divorce in law and its practice. This would be best done by throwing out no-fault divorce and family court altogether. Once we are on a roll, we could finish up by breaking the PC shackles to honest speech about shameful behavior. People shouldn't be afraid to openly ostracize the Angelina Jolies of this world for being the sluts that they are. Gold digging "baby mommas" are whores, plain and simple. And they all produce bastards (albeit, innocent bastards).

Men really don't need a lot of affirmation. Lets Honor Fathers by protecting Marriage in law and culture. The rest will work itself out.


PS: Yes, ladies, I left out the feckless cads who father these bastards on purpose. While most of these men are legally treated as no better than walking wallets and interchangeable sperm donors, then the most of the power and, hence, most of the responsibility lies with the female "gatekeepers".
-by thinkwell


I loved the article, I envy your view of your father. Being the son of a distant and aloof alcoholic, I didn't know what a father was or how to be a father. I did learn with the birth of my own sons, and can't imagine life without them. What is satisfying as a father is watching them mirror what has been taught and passing that on to their own children, and watching them grow as human beings and become successful. Your father would be very proud.
I mourn the fact of what my own father missed.

Society's current feminist/homosexual path will be the death of this culture as we know it. A cursory overview of history supports this, but it will be debated / ignored as it was in the past. Europe with it's multiculturism, death of Christianity and nihlism offers a view of the US in the not too distant future. Just being able to observe the progress (or digression as the case may be) should give a reasonable view to the end of it all.
-by foneman


Kathleen,

You are 100% right on the money. Yes, American culture has been poisoned to negatively view the importance of fathers. As I'm sure you probably know, it's 100 times WORSE in the black community, where 70% of black American children are growing up without their fathers in their lives. I speak from personal experience in saying that fatherlessness hurts like hell. You never get over it; you just deal with it.
-by DutchMartin

"Today's women - armed with degrees and checkbooks, not to mention easy access to sperm banks - enjoy the social freedom to have children with or without dear ol' dad counting contractions and are increasingly opting out of the paperwork. Gone is any shame associated with having children out of wedlock."
In one paragraph you have summed up the social history of the world in the last 35 years or so. A sad, sad state of affairs. Removing that shame of children out-of-wedlock children is perhaps to biggest single social change FOR THE WORST in probably all history.

For years the fear of unmarried women of becoming pregnant and the fear of men of getting them pregnent was probably the biggest and best contributor to socially responsible behavior. Once that fear was removed and young people were told to - 'go out, have fun, there are no consequences to your actions (or mommy will take care of the consequence)' - everything flowed from there. Epidemic rates of STDS, teenage pregnancy, and of course, the biggie, abortion.

What can be sadder than this statement that feminists live by: "Don't worry about getting pregnant. You can always kill it!"

And boys. You were right in calling them sperm doners. There are some fathers around. I know a couple. But for the most, that is exactly what they are, sperm doners.

As a teen, I cannot imagine standing in front of my father with a pregnant girlfriend. The idea was so unthinkable that great pains were taken to ensure that would never happen.

What do you suppose happens to a teenager now that gets his girlfriend pregnant. No pudding with supper? No video games for a week? No cell phone for a day?

I am not naive enough to believe that in earlier days, people didn't have inappropirate sex and yes, sometimes there were unexpected, unplanned pregnancies. But certainly it was not epidemic like it is now when kids have no rules or guidelines to live by.
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I also will take issue with this statement. Motherhood has lost its sanctity. All one has to do is look at the lousy job women do alone, that is, look at the state of today's kids. Motherhood holds no sanctity for a lot of us any more.
-by Stam


I grew up wishing I was in a traditional family.

I "met" my dad at 13. Randomly visited with him for the following 20 years. He passed away February. His age?

I'm a Gen-Xer who is the product of "free love" and no consequences. I am the only child between my parents, but have numerous step and half siblings.

There's a void that can't be filled without that male influence.
-by JimmyCarter


Thank you Cathleen!!!

I really appreciate your writing. Someone needs to point out the elephant in the room.

Men and fathers continue to be taken for granted, and I am afraid there will be grave consequences if we do not reverse this destructive 30+year trend.

Not only are men a critical part of the family. They are a foundational part of what keeps civilization going.

By watching the popular media, you would never know that men do the following:
98% of military casualties – while we live our peaceful lives it is men who are beating back the wolves. (If you do not believe me, check the DOD website your self: http://siadapp.dior.whs.mil/index.html)

92% of workplace fatalities – If it were not for men, we would be living in caves, walking down dirt paths, have no modern medicine, no fire departments, police departments, no airplanes… everything we take for granted in the modern world comes from men taking risks. (If you do not believe the fatality data, check the BLS website for your self: http://stats.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/cftb0193.pdf

Something like 80% of all the food we eat is grown by men (check the BLS website and calculate the percentage of who works in agriculture: http://stats.bls.gov/home.htm)

Do your own reseach – I have not been able to find a single item critical to society for which men do not provide the lion’s share of the benefit (except for giving birth).

A woman needs a man, like a fish needs water.
-by johnnyp


One day may it please God that the Right should understand that no one is against fathers and give up this amazing and absurd chip on its collective shoulder. A "case" only needs to be made for fatherhood if you are a flinchy reactionary with a victim complex. Other, less ideologically committed people realize intuitively (and usually do not even feel the need to discuss) the critical role that men play in the conception, gestation, and raising of their offspring. My dad's a religious conservative. I'm sure he agrees with this nonsense about the world not caring about fathers anymore, because he pretty much goes along with whatever agenda the Right sets itself. But I love him and I don't need anyone to tell me that he's important.
-by Malou


Thank you for your kind words about fathers.

Anybody who watchs T.V. ( and takes notice ) can see , men are not treated well.

I like a good laugh as much as anyone , but the messege is pounded home , men are either idiots , or bad.

I'm a independant voter..I voted for Kerry last time. I'm not a "kool-Aid" drinker.

Womens and other minority groups would never stand for the kind of treatment men and fathers get in the culture.

Men for the most part just shake it off and go about our business. Thanks again. T.R.
-by oldheathen
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1 comment:

Anna Venger said...

I happen to know families in which the biological father was grossly abusive toward wife and children-won't go into details- and those kids are better off without their "fathers".

However, women who divorce for frivolous reasons often end up living with someone just as bad or worse and putting their children's emotional and physical well-being at risk in the process. Girls (children) who have step-dads or whose moms have live-in boyfriends are much more likely to be sexually abused than those living with biological dads, for example.

Men have gotten a bad rap. Men surely don't deserve to be made into buffoons on every program and in every commercial. We've come a long way since "Father Knows Best" or "Leave it to Beaver".

I, for one, know how impt my husband is to my well-being and how impt his presence is to our children. I can't imagine what we'd do without him.