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It's a Shame we Would Ask: "Do Fathers Matter?"

Updated: Sep 22, 2023


A recent article in Real Clear Policy asks:  "Have Fathers Become Irrelevant?"   The author, Robert VerBruggen, explores the literature and the "science" for answers. The article is basically a review of a book entitled Do Fathers Matter? What Science is Telling us about the Parent we've Overlooked by  Paul Raeburn. Overlooked.  Wow.  I wonder if the researchers have asked children if they've "overlooked" their fathers? Anyway, Raeburn makes the case that fathers do indeed matter. And of course that's a very good thing.  But what I find amazing in all of this is that anyone would have to make such a case so strenuously.  Considering the misery and sorrow that so many children go through in the absence of a father, it's stupefying that anyone would even dare challenge the right of a child to a relationship with their father. But Raeburn enters the debate providing all manner of scientific data to try to prove the point -- to which he adds the role of genes and hormones and so forth. What I want to know is why do we tolerate -- much less feel we have to jump through a thousand hoops -- the challenge of such a question as "Do fathers matter?"  VerBruggen's review of Raeburn's book -- and the premise of the book itself -- are most illuminating to me because they provide insights into how little researchers and scholars seem to care about the father-child relationship.  All of this focus on "outcomes," such as graduation rates, employment statistics, etc. is BOGUS.  It has nothing to do with the value of the relationship.  A good child-father relationship has a value beyond measure.  Not just for the happiness of the child, but for everyone as the child broadcasts that sense of stability into society and other relationships. VerBruggen begins with the dismal statistics:

The two-parent family has been deteriorating for decades: Since 1960, the percentage of American children born out of wedlock has risen from  5 to 41. Though unmarried parents often live together when the child is born, they are far more likely  than married parents to break up -- and fathers who don't live with their kids are  much less involved when it comes to parenting. Does this hurt anyone? There is a fairly broad consensus that it does, for the simple reason that children raised by two parents tend to have better outcomes, even after  researchers do their best to account for complicating factors like class and race. But there are nagging doubts in some quarters.

"Does this hurt anyone?"  Again, the fact that we can even ask such a question indicates the depths to which we have all sunk as a society.  I'm sure VerBruggen is simply being rhetorical and responding to our current social norms.  But the mere existence of that question, the fact that it can rear its head so casually among us, should give us great pause.  I would think in the eyes of a hurting child, this would stand out as a very callous question indeed.  And we ought to get into the habit of looking at the world through the eyes of a child - rather than through the myopia of social scientists -- when it comes to regarding the happiness and well being of children.  Instead of bending over backwards to answer the propaganda, we should find a way to point out that the question itself is nothing but propaganda and innuendo.

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