My first Father’s Day without my dad approaches, and I am inspired to sound off on behalf of dads, because they are precious, whether they know it or not.
Children raised without an involved father are at MUCH higher risk for suicide, violent acts, truancy, academic failure, incarceration, substance abuse, sexual abuse, addiction, teen parenting, maltreatment, trafficking, and mental illness, to name a few curses that disproportionately befall the fatherless.
If you want to inspire yourself to pop out of your chair and go hug a fatherless kid right now, read these stats. Forty-three percent of American children live in a dad-less household, meaning nearly half of our children face heightened risk of Every Bad Thing happening to them.
You’d think our public policy folks would be in an uproar to protect children from paternal abandonment, and to ensure that every measure is taken to support paternal involvement in children’s lives. Instead we get…
Gender wage inequality that financially rewards families who opt for dad to spend more time working and less time with the kids, as opposed to families who opt for both parents to work the same number of hours.
Corporate cultures that reward dad for putting in the long hours to win that corner office, where he can expect to put in even more long hours, because he “benefits” from gender discrimination in promotions.
Public housing polices that discourage dad from hanging in with mom and the kids when money is scarce, because the family is more likely to qualify for affordable or shelter housing without him.
Public policies that give men NO family leave, while Mom can at least get a little time off to give birth and bond with the newborn. She might get time off without pay, she might slip back in the promotion sweepstakes as a result of those weeks out of the office, but she has a parental starting lap Dad isn’t offered.
Not coincidentally, the hero I’m writing now, Grey Birch Dorning, Earl of Casriel, is beset by the daft notion that his primary job in life is to see the family coffers enriched, even if he has to marry a wealthy woman to make that happen. Grey is willing to sacrifice his happiness, his freedom, his everything to ensure his family’s material security. (He has a rude awakening ahead of him in the person of Beatitude, Countess of Canmore.)
What’s more, these guys who think being the family ATM is what fatherhood is about are giving up life-expectancy, joy, and healthy old age when they put in the overtime rather than hang out at the tot lot. The Harvard Study proved that men who took the time to develop close meaningful relationships throughout life were far ahead of their work-obsessed brothers at the end of the game.
That’s my Father’s Day rant. If we value families and children, we need to value Dads as Dads first, and as employees, managers, and wage earners second. To one commenter, I’ll send a signed copy of My Own True Duchess. What advice would you have for a dad whose first child was born today?