Fathers Still Irrelevant?
It has always amazed me how most politicians on both sides of the aisle, can ignore the facts in favor of their bias. It’s even more amazing to me when the field of psychology, in general, can ignore their own facts in order to be politically correct. This is especially true when it involves the importance of the role of a father in the home.
The Wall Street Journal recently had an op-ed piece highlighting the predictions made 50 years ago in a report written by Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Moynihan was an assistant secretary in President Johnson’s Labor Department, and his report focused on inner-city poverty, in particular in the black community. He basically said the conditions would worsen due to the absence of fathers in the home.
I’ve written on this issue before, but this article highlighted some additional facts that are disturbing. Part of what was, and still is disturbing, is the continuing effort to label his ideas as racist, and counter-productive to the civil rights movement, even though the events of the past 50 years have proven him to be correct. But that doesn’t seem to matter to those who are politically correct. Even in the face of growing evidence, the same accusations are leveled today at others purporting the same ideas.
Moynihan said that the fundamental problem, in particular with inner-city Blacks, was family structure. What was true then, and still is true–is that the problem is based on the fact “that the Negro family in the urban ghettos is crumbling”–to quote Moynihan. In developing the “Great Society,” Johnson”s administration ignored Moynihan’s analysis and predictions, and marriage was penalized and single parenting was subsidized. Basically, public policy paid mothers a lot of money to keep the fathers out of their lives.
Here are some of the facts: 50 years ago, 25% of black children, and 5% of white children were born to and lived in an unmarried mother family. Today, 70% of all black births are to unmarried mothers, and 35% of all white births are to unmarried mothers. When fathers are absent from the home, the risks of teen pregnancy, drug abuse, failure in school, along with other social problems increase dramatically. For example, in a study done in 2002 at UCSB, it was concluded that when there was no father in the home, a male youth of any ethnicity is more likely to get involved in the criminal justice system than male youths in a home with a father present.
No one in the political system wants to look at the issue of father-absence in poverty families. The argument usually includes the idea that there are bad fathers. But that misses the point. Two years ago I was invited by the City Mission in Cleveland, Ohio to present a symposium on the issue of father absence. They were aware of the connection between poverty and the fatherless home, because they were working directly with poverty families. But at the symposium there was an absence of any of the policy makers in that city or state. They, in being politically correct, deny by their absence that there is any connection. It’s like they just keep rearranging the chairs on the Titanic as the ship is sinking. They talk about the problem of poverty, but reject even talking about the essential role of a father in the family.
Question: What was the role your father played in your life?