Let's start with how I know this is a pervasive thought. Turn on any modern sitcom that features a father figure. There is a really good chance that the father is the comic relief in the show. He is portrayed as insensitive, bumbling, weak and a buffoon. I can not think of one show in over 10 years where there was a strong, intelligent, active, true father figure. Now think of the modern women's movement. There are countless shirts, pinterest sayings, facebook posts, etc that espouse the virtues of kicking out the dad and going with mom only. Let me stop here and say that, unfortunately, the lion's share of the blame rides on the so called "fathers." I know that. I know that many, many, many males in our culture are deadbeats. They create a child and then squander their opportunity to be a father. I also know there are many that are or become abusive--whether it is chemically induced or some latent defect in that male's upbringing finally coming to the surface. My blog is not meant to chastise the moms for protecting themselves and their families. My intent is to try to discuss why it is important for a good father to be present instead of bowing to the cultural viewpoint that says, "well he was an idiot, oh well, dads aren't that important anyway."
I understand that this is a common direction to take if your dad/husband/father of your child ditches you. It is normal to say that it is their loss and they don't really matter. It is a defense mechanism to try to talk you out of any guilt, depression, fear, etc.
Now, I would of course adopt the view that you should never create the baby outside of a strong marriage covenant relationship. The most important things a child gains from its parents is the model of relationship. The child needs to see healthy spousal interaction, healthy conflict resolution (yes, healthy spouses still disagree), healthy relationships with friends and healthy leadership out of the father. I do realize that babies are created outside of these relationships. So, if you help create a baby, it is your responsibility to care for that child. It is your responsibility to provide direction, support and love for that child. The child needs you, no matter what the mom says, the child needs you. You have a different viewpoint from the mother. You provide balance in that child's life.
My parents are still married to each other. They got married at 19 years old and have been married for 32 years now. When they married each other, they made a covenant and have not broken it. I believe I am who I am now because of this. I learned from my father how to be a husband, how to be a father, how to be a man. WAY too many kids grow up without these lessons. Was he perfect--far from it. Am I perfect--far from it. Did he do things I swore I would never do--of course. Part of the lesson was to see how not to do things. Its a constant evolution. That said, he was present, supportive, and loved my mom. Those are the most important things. Those are what I am imploring my fellow males to become--men.
Here are just a very few statistics (collected on innocentdads.org) to drive my point home:
3) 80% of rapists motivated with displaced anger come from fatherless homes. [Criminal Justice & Behaviour, Vol 14, pp. 403-26, 1978]
4) 71% of pregnant teenagers lack a father. [U.S. Department of Health and Human Services press release, Friday, March 26, 1999]
5) 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes. [US D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census]
6) 85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes. [Center for Disease Control]
7) 90% of adolescent repeat arsonists live with only their mother. [Wray Herbert, “Dousing the Kindlers,” Psychology Today, January, 1985, p. 28]
8) 71% of high school dropouts come from fatherless homes. [National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools]
9) 75% of adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes. [Rainbows f for all God’s Children]
10) 70% of juveniles in state operated institutions have no father. [US Department of Justice, Special Report, Sept. 1988]
11) 85% of youths in prisons grew up in a fatherless home. [Fulton County Georgia jail populations, Texas Department of Corrections, 1992]
12) Fatherless boys and girls are: twice as likely to drop out of high school; twice as likely to end up in jail; four times more likely to need help for emotional or behavioral problems. [US D.H.H.S. news release, March 26, 1999]
If these don't speak to you, I don't know what will. Dads, do whatever you can to be present in your child's life. Moms, allow the dad to be present. If this is just not possible, purposely find a positive male figure for your child--grandfather, uncle, youth minister, someone that can show the child that not every man is a buffoon. EVERYONE--think before you create that child. Don't do it if you aren't serious about being with each other for the rest of your lives. Marriage and parenting is HARD WORK. It is NOT something to be taken lightly. It is NOT something for the frivolous and flighty. Remember what is at stake--read these statistics again.