Sunday, June 19, 2005

On fathers

Jesse Taylor has a painful and beautiful post about Father's Day at Pandagon. It is so good, in fact, that I am mentioning it without commentary; just go read it.

From where I sit, it appears that fathers are much more involved with their children today than they were a few decades ago. However, I still don't see corporate threats made against them if they take time off to take their children to the doctor or attend a teacher conference. Are they not doing these things, or is it just women who do so at the risk of destroying productivity?

I see a lot of adolescents in my psychotherapy practice, and while some do come in with their fathers or with both parents--a promising sign-- most still come with their mothers. After divorce, there are still a lot of fathers who move away and see their children only a couple of times a year, and there are still thousands of deadbeat parents, most of whom are fathers.

It is a pity that the Fathers' Rights movement has perverted a very real problem into a campaign against women. I say a very real problem because I sometimes have to help fathers take extraordinary measures to get to see their children the way the court has said they can. There is a reluctance within the judicial system to force mothers to abide by custody agreements. I am not talking about cases in which the father is dangerous or is a bad influence, but cases in which the mother uses the custody situation to punish the father, thus also punishing the children. However, some of the solutions offered by the Fathers' Rights movement are unrealistic and suspiciously motivated.

Even though you can turn out just fine without one, fathers are important. Good ones, anyway, just as good mothers are important. A good father is a teacher, a protector, and a nurturer. Heterosexual girls with good fathers develop high standards in their choice of a mate, and boys with good fathers learn how to be good men.

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