This appeared as an article in the Washington Times (12/19/95 - A19) and is distributed by the Texas Fathers Alliance
85% of prisoners, 78% of high school dropouts, 82% of teenage girls who become pregnant, the majority of drug and alcohol abusers - all come from single-mother-headed households. Less than 1% of any of these categories come from single-father-headed households. This seems to indicate that the problems children encounter are not related to single-parent households, but are related specifically to single-mother-headed households. So, should we blame the mothers or the fathers? Perhaps, neither. There is no question that father-absence has reached epidemic proportions. According to Wade Horn of the National Fatherhood Initiative, we must reverse the trend in 7 - 8 years or it will be too late to do so.
And, how has our government responded to this crisis? By continuing to drive fathers out of the family. It is bad enough that some fathers abandon their families, but it is unconscionable that our federal and state policies drive fathers away from their families. With 80+ percent of divorces involving children resulting in sole-mother-custody, combined with a "no man in the house rule" and "presumptive sole-mother-custody" in welfare cases - we are not blameless from a policy perspective. We must change our policies, practices and procedures to specifically include fathers in families. If not, we can be certain that social spending will continue to increase and we will be plagued with an ever burgeoning population of maladjusted children who will fill our prisons and wreak havoc on society.
Social research data reveal that our blind reliance only on the nurturing value of mothers is inadequate and misplaced. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, a child living with his/her divorced mother, compared to a child living with both parents, is "375% more likely to need professional treatment for emotional or behavioral problems and is almost twice as likely to repeat a grade of school, is more likely to suffer chronic asthma, frequent headaches, and/or bedwetting, develop a stammer or speech defect, suffer from anxiety or depression, and be diagnosed as hyperactive."
However, these afflictions were surprisingly uncommon in the 15% of single-parent households headed by men. A study of all state child protective services agencies in the country - by the Children's Rights Coalition, a child advocacy and research organization in Austin, Texas - found that biological mothers physically abuse their children at twice the rate of biological fathers. The majority of the rest of the time, children are abused because of single-mothers' poor choices in the subsequent men in their lives. Incidences of abuse were almost non-existent in single-father-headed households.
The data show that placing children only with mothers is likely to be detrimental to children and society, so why do we continue public policies favoring sole-mother-placement? Have we become so paternalistic toward women that it anesthetizes our common sense?
Surprisingly few people realize that, until the end of WW I, U.S. laws and courts automatically placed the children of divorce not with their mothers, but with their fathers. For thousands of years societal conventions instructed the placement of children with their fathers in most cultures all over the globe. Why? Because it works. It puts children with their strongest protectors and it puts boys with their traditional guides to civilized manhood. Yet, these essential fatherhood roles - protector and civilizer - seem to have been forgotten, today.
Never before have fathers been cast aside as they have been in the United States during the last 30 - 40 years. Never before has such a strong society become as threatened as we are, for this solitary reason. Regrettably, as long as we continue to hold to the relatively new idea that only mothers are capable of being parents, and ignore the essential role of fathers, our children will remain at risk.
The single-mother-headed-household must go the way of the slum high-rise dwelling. Both are human disaster zones. Both are exalted attempts at social engineering that ignore God's blueprint for human society.
What is needed? Our Father in heaven and our fathers here on earth - as well as a society that values them, includes them, and encourages their involvement in their families.
Other Resources: American Divorce Association of Men Louis Filczer, Esq. Arlington Heights 708/364-1555 Divorced DADS Against Discrimination Steve and Marion Becker Spring Grove 708/982-7556 Family and Legal Social Services Ms. Lynn Jacob, LCSW Evanston 708/866-6231 National Divorce Forum for Men Jeffery Leving, LTD Chicago 312/807-3990 Child Custody Project of Isaac Ray Center James Cavenaugh Chicago 312/942-4462 Committee to Clean Up Courts Sherman Skoknick Chicago 312/731-1100 National Organization for Men Jeffrey Weber Chicago 312/384-6988 Fathering Support Services Steven Karshen Chicago 312/784-5529 Childrens Rights Council of IL Mr. Terry Cady, Coordinator Deerfield 847/374-9889 Childrens Rights Council of NC Fred Wall Wilmington 910/762-4952 Legal Action Project Mr. Lewis Pitts Burham'919/688-0268 KidsRights Corp Charlotte 704/541-0100 Childrens Rights Council of NC Angie Lapish, State Coord. Hickory 704/466-2119 Grandparents Rights Louise McIntyre, Coord. Statesville 704/873-6332 NC Fathers for Equal Rights Wilmington 910/762-8596