Posted by: Christine Johnson | June 16, 2006

National Review Roundup on Dads


National Review has several articles up on Father’s Day, so I thought I’d gather them together for your convenience and reading pleasure. (Several reiterate the point I tried to make in “Happy Father’s Day, You Dork!”

Carrie Lukas gives us “Indespensible.” In part, she writes:

The last few decades have been rough for fathers. If dads once were idealized in popular culture as all-knowing patriarchs, today they’re usually the butt of the joke. The Simpsons, comedy classic though it is, probably is the best known example. Marge is a relatively positive role model; a caring, generally sensible figure (in spite of the hair). Homer is stupid, childish, undisciplined, and completely incompetent. From Malcolm in the Middle to The Family Guy, the modern TV dad is more idiot than ideal. Just as any fictional battle-of-the-sexes today is invariably won by women, positive images of dads in entertainment are rare.

Our media culture’s disrespect for dads certainly stems from the sad reality that men increasingly are absent from their children’s lives. In this sense, television is relatively kind to fathers: They may be clownish, but at least they’re there — a dream for a growing portion of American children. Today, one in three children lives without his father. According to the National Fatherhood Institute, roughly one in ten children won’t see his father at all this year, and two in ten have never been to dad’s home.

Rich Lowry gives us “The Father Effect.” In his article, he explains the importance of having a child’s father – his real father – in the home.

Boys in a single-parent home are roughly twice as likely to have served jail time by their early 30s. They are missing a family’s natural disciplinarian. As the report’s main author, University of Virginia professor W. Bradford Wilcox, puts it, “Men have a disciplinary advantage over women in terms of their size, strength and even the tone of their voice.” This advantage extends to the entire community. The research of Harvard sociologist Robert Sampson finds that the percentage of fatherless households is one of the strongest predictors of how much violent crime a neighborhood will experience.Having a male, any male, in the household is not an adequate replacement. White and Hispanic teens living in households with a co-habiting couple actually have more behavioral problems than teens in single-parent households. That’s because, the report notes, co-habiting households “are usually led by their mother and an unrelated male. Boyfriends are more likely to be abusive than a married father. They are also more likely to compete with the child for the attention of the mother.”Indeed, children living with single mothers, mothers’ boyfriends, or stepfathers are at a much greater risk of abuse. As Wilcox explains, “Men who have a biological or adoptive tie to their children from an early age are more likely to regulate their attraction to the child and their emotional reactions when the child acts out.”

(And things are even rougher for girls!)

Jennifer Roback Morse enters the fray with “Husband’s Day.” In it, she reminds us that the best gift a man gives his children is to love their mother. And, as I said in my aforementioned post, the best gift a woman can give her children is to love him back. She writes:

Father’s Day is a day for honoring fathers. But I would like to take a step back and honor men as husbands. In our enlightened, liberated era, we have a tendency to overlook men as husbands, since the father is so often not the husband of the mother. But without some kind of connection between the man and the woman, there is quite literally, no child. I’d like to make the case that the most important thing fathers can do for their children is to love their mother. And likewise, among the many things mothers do for their children, one of the most important is that mothers love their children’s father.

I highly recommend reading each of them in full. And remember the Fourth Commandment this Sunday!

[picture credit]

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