ADAM COLEMAN: Ignore the feminists; we still need fathers

It is human nature to prioritize what matters most, and this is never truer than when one looks at what a society prioritizes. By that standard, our approach to family is alarming. Unchecked family separation and disintegration reveals a potentially ugly truth: that we’re now participants in a selfish economy where people are only as valuable as what they can provide us. This Father’s Day, many of us can’t avoid the perception of how the fathers of America are considered optional ornaments to the family tree.

While women are rightfully encouraged to pursue a lifestyle that suits them the best, whether that is pursuing a career, motherhood, or a combination of both, men are not offered the same leeway. Our culture still feels as if it sends the same message: that a man’s only value is determined by how much money he could potentially earn for his family. This leads to the natural question: what happens when a man no longer provides as well as a woman? What is the point of men?

This is not an idle question. With women outpacing men with bachelor’s degrees, women being 46% of adults between 25 and 34 with bachelor’s degrees vs men at 36%, and women having access to higher-waged white collar positions, women have never been more capable of earning income. This is not a bad thing on its own. What is a bad thing is that higher education teaches women to become the kinds of feminists who denigrate men and frame us as expendable utilities instead of potentially invaluable assets for them and their future children.

In short, if you only see the father of your children as a piggybank, then he’s easily replaceable with governmental support or income from an employer. Small wonder that nearly a quarter of American children (23% according to Pew Research) are living with one parent and no other adult in the home, making the United States number one in the world with this issue.

As a father, this attitude is not just alarming; it’s insulting. It ignores all the many things I offer to my children that can’t be easily quantified. I still remember fondly working nightshifts and then raising my son all day, changing his diapers and feeding him while running off very little sleep. But most importantly, I was building an unbreakable bond that remains between us 18 years later. Are you going to tell me that all that could be equaled by writing a check? If so, you’re nuts. To treat fatherhood as a family accounting concern that can be supplemented with an alternate source of income is the equivalent of treating mothers as mere love machines who can be replaced by daycare. We would all recognize how insulting that is; so why do we allow the same mindset about fathers?

Americans are separated because our most important union is divided, and our children are suffering because we refuse to see how necessary that union is.

Western culture has raised many of us to overindulge on our individuality, and then when we become parents, we don’t know how to sacrifice for someone or something greater than ourselves.

As a child who grew up without his father involved in his life, I know exactly what it feels like to be cut off from the person who should be the most important man in any child’s life. When I succeeded, I had no father to congratulate me. When I struggled, I had no father to support me and was forced to suffer alone. Granted, the one thing my biological father did offer was child support, but if you think that was the only thing that mattered about his presence, I will tell you firsthand it wasn’t.  I would’ve rather had my father check in on me than mail me a check. And the only way forward for children who grew up neglected, as I did, is to break the cycle of family separation by never giving in to the kind of dogma which argues that fathers don’t matter; to prevent future generations from experiencing the hurt that people like me struggled with.

We do our children a disservice when we smear and diminish the father’s role in their development; when we look askance at a father’s desire to be involved in a child’s life. A father is more than a bank account balance. A father should be encouraged to have the same chance at involvement in his child’s life as a mother.

Admittedly, the problem isn’t purely that some women diminish the father’s value within their children’s lives. Men are to blame, too, for accepting this degrading view. And make no mistake, both groups do this for the same reason: because our society allows adults to act like impulsive, selfish children while treating actual children as an acceptable casualty. But they aren’t. And fathers, you aren’t. Our choices as parents have major consequences for the outcomes of our children and rationalizing the exodus of their father only compounds the turmoil which fatherless children will endure for the rest of their lives.
 

Image: Title: father daughter
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