Is There Anything Good About Fathers?

April 17th, 2009 by Pelle Billing

It’s not easy being a father nowadays, as you can tell from the question in the heading.

Canadian researchers and authors Paul Nathanson and Katherine K. Young have written about the persistant anti-male bias in the media, in their two books Spreading Misandry and Legalizing Misandry (you can read a short summary of their work on Wikipedia).

Fathers are an important subgroup of men that are under attack in the media. Directly or indirectly, they are portrayed as:

  • Wife beaters
  • Child abusers
  • Child molesters

Furthermore, we hear a lot about deadbeat dads in the media (i.e. dads who are avoiding paying child support), but hardly anything about all the men who desperately want to see their children but who have been denied any kind of custody.

Something we almost never hear about are the specific benefits that fathers can bring to their children, even though fathers keep young men away from crimes and a range of other psychosocial problems.

Can this really be true, that fathers have a vital protective effect on their children that their mother cannot replace on her own?

The Facts

In the book The Case for Marriage, the authors review the available evidence about single parent households (i.e. fatherless families) and conclude that these children are more likely:

  • To be poor
  • To have health problems
  • To have psychological disorders
  • To commit crimes
  • To exhibit conduct disorders (other than crime)
  • To have poorer relationships with their family and peers
  • To get fewer years of education

This list holds true even when controlling for parents’ race, income and socioeconomic status.

Other research (Harper and McLanahan, 1998) has shown that boys living without their biological fathers are twice as likely to have spent time in jail. These results also hold up after controlling for race, income and parents’ education. Having a stepfather, however, does not decrease incarceration rates – the protective effect comes from a biological dad alone.

In his book Fatherless America, sociologist David Blankenhorn states that:

“Despite the difficulty of proving causation in social sciences, the wealth of evidence increasingly supports the conclusion that fatherlessness is a primary generator of violence among young men.”

Swedish studies (Weitoft, Hjern, et al, 2002) have found that children of single parents are twice as likely to develop a psychiatric disease, to attempt suicide or to have an alcohol-related disease.

Conclusion

The status of fatherhood needs to be upgraded immediately. The available research clearly demonstrates that growing up without your father puts a child at a real disadvantage in a host of ways. Courts who are nowadays awarding sole custody to the mother “in the best interest” of the child, aren’t doing their job in a satisfactory way.

Shared custody needs to become default ruling in all custody cases that go to court, unless one parent is obviously unfit to raise a child (eg. drug addicts, convicted sex criminals, proven abusers, etc).

Furthermore, parents need to start cooperating after a divorce, instead of using the children as “collateral”. Children are not a way to extort more money from your spouse after a divorce, nor are they a tool to feel good about yourself.

All parents owe it to themselves and to their children to live close to each other after a divorce, so that shared custody can be practically implemented and so that the children can stay close to both parents.

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28 Responses to “Is There Anything Good About Fathers?”

  1. Michael Grove Says:

    THE sanctity of marriage IS, as also the concept of GOD, very much a symbol of UNITY.

    THE equitable UNITY of man and woman at the core of THE most important community in LIFE, which IS FAMILY. But NOT the unity of man in control of woman as is so often the case with ALL of those religions of the world and their political cohorts which have evolved exclusively in accordance with the patriarchal mind-set. A mind-set that IS genetically rooted in the animalistic survival of confrontation and conflict and one that unfortunately, as our species as a whole has evolved it’s collective consciousness, remains locked into the tribal male dominated “ists” “isms” & “itys” of basic …

    “DO WHAT I SAY NOT WHAT I DO” fundamentalist thinking …

    follow the website link for more !

  2. Pelle Billing Says:

    Thanks for your comment Michael.

    I’m not sure how you define patriarchal, but it sounds like your using feminism’s definition. I don’t agree with that definition at all, and it may even be best to use the word patriarchy sparingly, since people define it so differently.

    I believe that marriage came into being for the good of both women and men, at that point in time, as I wrote in my post on Monogamy.

  3. Enric Carbó Says:

    I want to thank you for the fresh air that represents to me reading your blog. I discovered it some days ago thanks to integral europe newsletter, and I find excellent the point of view expressed in the posts, I’ve kept them in my HDD to read them again more calmly!
    Here in Catalonia-Spain laws about fatherhood are terrible. There is no shared custody and the ressentment feminist lobby, that dictates family policies in our government, maintains that this is just a strategy of batterers to keep controling their ex-.

  4. Schala Says:

    You say only biological dads, but that makes adoptive fathers invisible. I bet those who adopt and have custody and whose child may know they are not the one who provided the semen for their creation, still provide benefits there.

  5. Pelle Billing Says:

    Enric,

    Thank you for you positive feedback!

    What you say about Catalonia-Spain doesn’t surprise me; the more I hear about feminism and public policy around the world the more convinced I become that the work I do is needed.

    Good to have you here.

    Pelle

  6. Pelle Billing Says:

    Schala,

    Only one piece of research was about biological fathers, the rest was about all fathers.

    I think it’s quite possible that the dedication of the father is the deciding factor, and the reason that biological dads come out on top is that on average they are far more dedicated than step-fathers who may not have wanted (more) kids but have accepted them since they came with the woman he wants.

    I believe that dedicated step-fathers can be just as good fathers as dedicated biological fathers.

    What’s still interesting to note is that courts often remove biological fathers from the children, “in the best interest” of the children. However, all too often this leads to the children getting a less-than-dedicated stepfather, which is certainly not in the best interest of the children. So the research about biological fathers is a kind of vindication for all the fathers who have unsuccessfully, or successfully, fought for the right to be active fathers and not only “financial fathers”.

  7. Schala Says:

    I mainly meant adoptive father as indistinct from biological father – that is, a father who chose to parent and adopt, maybe with a mother, another father or alone, but I did not mean a child from a previous union.

  8. Pelle Billing Says:

    OK.

    I would guess that adoptive fathers have exactly the same effect as biological fathers.

  9. Michael Grove Says:

    In reference to your comment “I’m not sure how you define patriarchal, but it sounds like your using feminism’s definition. I don’t agree with that definition at all, and it may even be best to use the word patriarchy sparingly, since people define it so differently.”

    I WOULD ABSOLUTELY BEG TO DIFFER.

    Context IS EVERYTHING and unless the interdependence of every aspect of the REALLY BIG PICTURE of INDEPENDENCE of the UNITY of ONE is truly understood, the wisdom of knowledge of understanding can never be achieved.

    IF anyone is interested in proceeding down this particular rabbit hole I would suggest that they start here: -

    http://my-head.gaia.com/blog/2009/3/the_sanctity_of_marriage#comment_407384

  10. Pelle Billing Says:

    Yes, context is very important (but it is not everything). However, I wasn’t denying context, I was saying that I don’t agree with your assumptions on what the context looks like or what the context is.

    I doubt that we’ll be able to discuss this though, since you are not really putting forth arguments in a way that I can relate to. It’s also hard to read your text since you use capital letters, that symbolize that you are shouting.

    Thanks for playing.

  11. Michael Grove Says:

    Additional EMPHASIS of the importance in context of the 3D interdependnce of the intended meaning of words on a/several 2D page/s … to hopefully NOT convey any mis-understanding of the multitudinous definitions of symbolism … and most definately NOT SHOUTING !

  12. Bj0rnborg Says:

    It is shouting. Especially when using exclamation marks. And apart from that it just makes it harder for other to read, and your focus to convey meaning in this way is contraproductive.

    If you want emphasis use (have to try if it works first though)

  13. Alexander Holmberg Says:

    We,, thanx for a great site.
    I´lll be back.

    So important. Great!

  14. Jim Says:

    “patriarchal mind-set”

    How ironic in comments to an article about the importance of fatherhood to see the use of this kind of poisonous terminology. Can we label child abuse as a “matriarchal mind-set”?

  15. Pelle Billing Says:

    Alexander, thanks for the kudos :)

    Bj0rnborg and Jim, I fully agree.

  16. Jim Says:

    “and most definately NOT SHOUTING !”

    Hah ha ha.

    “We,, thanx for a great site.
    I´lll be back.”

    OK, that explains why you go to the trouble of doing this in English.

  17. Vårdnadstvister Says:

    [...] sig också. Ifall någon tvivlar på pappors betydelse för sina barn, så läs min (engelska) bloggpost om [...]

  18. Sorin Says:

    Ingen tvekar på pappors betydelse. Ni bara har det intrycket oftast genom att ha kontakt med med missnöjda män som har antingen blivit illa behandlade av delar av systemet på riktigt eller bara inbillar sig att de har blivit det därför att de inte ser sina brister. I mitt tycke är det också så att egentligen är det inte en pappa som är det positiva utan en pappa-gestalt, en man i barnens omedelbara närhet som tar sitt ansvar till fullo som en vuxen individ och som därmed kan verka både som modell för barnen och som är tillgänglig känslomässigt. De flesta män klarar av detta. En liten del gör inte det och en liten del behandlas illa i olika sammanhang precis som vissa bra mammor som behandlas illa i olika sammanhang.

    I den forskningen du presenterar som en sorts bevisning för den biologiska pappans betydelse har man tittat på huruvida styvpapporna är välfungerande individer eller inte?

  19. Pelle Billing Says:

    Please keep the comments in English. For Swedish comments please go to my Swedish blog.

  20. witman Says:

    First time poster (I just stumbled on your site from avoiceformen.com).

    I think it should go a step further than joint custody. I’d like to see automatic father custody. Since it has been shown that male kinship drives society to rational heights and that female kinship is retrograde, an argument can be made for father custody.

    http://www.fathermag.com/news/Case_for_Father_Custody.pdf

    Female Kinship (fatherlessness) ghettoizes society and leads to all sorts of problems. J.D. Unwin in his book ‘Sex and Culture’ describes the various levels of society in relation to their sexual mores and kinship models.

  21. witman Says:

    BTW, it’s good to see something good come out of Sweden besides a couple of floozies and some rape allegations.

    I have bookmarked you site for further reading. Please visit avoiceformen.com

  22. Pelle Billing Says:

    Hi witman,

    I think that female kinship can be avoided by implementing my first three points in this manifesto:
    http://www.pellebilling.com/2010/10/mens-rights-manifesto/

    I’m glad you found this site, and that you like it. There is a growing men’s movement in Sweden, and there’s a lot of criticism here (even outside the men’s movement) regarding the way the Assange case has been handled. In a way, his case highlights what is wrong with our current system.

    I’m well familiar with Paul Elam’s work, he was my editor-in-chief when I wrote for Men’s News Daily.

  23. Randy Watkins Says:

    I am a divorced father. When i was married i was the custodial parent. I got up in the middle of the night fed my son and put him back to bed. Even though, when I got divorced none of that matter like it would have for the mother.I had a woman by the name of Dr. Karen Wills do an evaluation on my son. Dr. Wills gave my son an I.Q of 125 on the Wechesler scale refuted all the lies my ex-wife had made.For example my ex said my son was scared of me or other men. Even the custody evaluator never addresses this issue. Do not in any way shape or form tell me we have justice in this country when it concerns children. I pay child support to a woman who makes just shy of 158,000. dollars a year. Yet, we treat women like they are STUPID it is only the system that continues to address this.I am appalled at the continuing discrimination.

  24. Pelle Billing Says:

    Randy,

    Divorces and custody cases are incredibly unfair, especially in the US.

  25. Enric Carbó Says:

    Not only in the USA. I am sure in Spain is worst. With couples with two nationalites, fathers have found justice in the USA that could not find in Spain. Here, rights are ONLY for the woman, not for the child and specially not for the father

  26. Randy Watkins Says:

    I am a part-time college student. I did a review of Dr. Baskerville’s book taken into Custody. Going to college in a very liberal school is sometimes hard but i have had a lot of positive feedback about my divorce situation. If you are a man. educate your self learn how to fight this war and win. Do not get discouraged call your political leaders and don’t let them rest.

  27. child support Says:

    child custody rights…

    Is There Anything Good About Fathers?…

  28. Justin Thomson, otherwise known as "AlenaRyu" Says:

    I went through a divorce over five years ago. (I’m 18 now). My Dad was allowed to see us one weekend a month, during a portion of the summer, a few holidays, and the latter half of Christmas.

    My Mom felt this was unfair, that he was getting too much time. :(

    Nowadays, I’m 18, and can legally go visit him whenever I want, provided I can find a ride.

    Nowadays, there are two reasons I still live with my Mom.
    1. My grandparents are paying for a community college education.
    2. My Mother is emotionally fragile. My brother has already decided to go live with my Dad, and I’m afraid of what’ll happen to Mom if I left as well…..


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