Who is to blame for fatherless children? If your answer is “absent fathers,” you’re wrong, as far as Wall Street Journal writer James Taranto is concerned. According to him, it’s not fathers choosing not to be present in their children’s lives that’s the problem, it’s women’s choices and behaviors. This is not a ground-breaking train of thought. Society has been blaming women for all of its ills since Eve. You’re late to the party, James.
Conservative writer Kay Hymowitz has spent some time researching the different outcomes of the sons and daughters of single mothers. In general, she found “sons were having more problems in school and engaging in more ‘externalizing’—psychology-speak for aggressive and/or criminal behavior—than their sisters and, more notably, than their male peers who were growing up with married parents.” Boys in fatherless homes were getting into more trouble than their sisters. As a result of her research, Hymowitz hypothesized:
It just may be that boys growing up where fathers—and men more generally—appear superfluous confront an existential problem: Where do I fit in? Who needs me, anyway? Boys see that men have become extras in the lives of many families and communities, and it can’t help but depress their aspirations. Solving that problem will take something much bigger than a good literacy program.
Taranto doesn’t like this argument, as it takes the focus off a mother’s
fault responsibility for 10 seconds – and we can’t have that. He penned a response to her article, in which he wonders, “Why does she spare unmarried mothers the judgment she casually imposes on absent fathers?” He finds it necessary to remind us all that it’s women’s insistence on equality and happiness that is basically ruining the lives of their male offspring:
Nonetheless, the vast majority of children who are growing up without fathers are doing so in large part because of their mothers’ choices. In our column last month, we half-facetiously raised “the converse lament that young females are insufficiently interested in ‘becoming reliable wives and mothers.’ ” Let us now raise it half-seriously. It is trivially true that an unmarried woman who bears a child is not a reliable wife. If Hymowitz is correct about the baneful effects of fatherlessness on boys, such a woman also is not a reliable mother, at least to her sons.
There is no simple way to analyze what is happening with fatherless boys – as research shows they are clearly having more difficulty than girls. But to pine for a time when women had no choices at all is ridiculous. Boys need their fathers present in their lives. Barring a situation where there is a mother who is not allowing that presence, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to put the onus on that presence on the fathers themselves. Not everything is a competition – and not everything is our fault. Sorry that you are so offended by the feminist movement, Taranto, but it basically affords us the luxury of not silently bearing the blame of the “destruction of the family.”
(photo: Getty Images)