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Fatherless and broken

Sunday, June 29, 2014

I’ve found it really difficult to engage with all the probably welcome public discussion and solution-seeking about fatherhood that culminated on Father’s Day two weeks ago. I can’t get past the starting point of almost all of it. 



Fathering can be a wonderful thing in a child’s life. And God knows we urgently need to figure out ways to get more men to take responsibility for parenting the children we shoot out between our legs in pleasure. But the children who grow up without active fathers are not by definition damaged or incomplete. And we have to stop starting our conversations about revitalising fatherhood from that point, hush this re-emerging chorus about “broken families” I thought we had silenced in the 1970s. Else I just can’t bear to listen.


Children with active fathers in their lives have better outcomes, sure. But so do children with parents with higher education and incomes. And neither children from working poor families, nor those who grow up in family forms that do not include a resident father, deserve to be fed the deficit psychology some of our brightest male minds are peddling. If anything, children from other family forms need messages that counter stigma they will encounter from the ignorant.


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