Fatherhood never more needed, but never more under threat

This article on fathers and fatherhood by sociologist Dr Gordon Finley contains a lot of food for thought.

It makes the point that there are now multiple threats to fatherhood, but concentrates on three: male unemployment, divorce, and non-marital childbearing.

Male unemployment today is higher than female unemployment and female educational attainment is higher than male educational attainment, the article points out. The implications for this pattern are unclear, it adds.

For centuries, Finley says “men have supported women for love, sex, companionship, and for being good mothers to their children. Given the current reversals, will women support men for love, sex, companionship, and for being good fathers to their children?”

Secondly, divorce militates against the fulfillment of children’s wishes to have their fathers’ in their lives.

“The strongest evidence comes from the children of divorce,” he writes. “Multiple studies from multiple perspectives all reach the same conclusion: children of divorce not only miss their fathers but they also want legislatures and judges to change family law and family court practice so that they can have a loving and nurturing father involved in their lives”.

He continues: “The third challenge to fatherhood is non-marital childbearing. In the 1950’s, only four percent of children were born out of wedlock, while today it is about forty percent — a tenfold increase.

“While there is no “natural law” that children born out of wedlock should be at higher risk of losing contact with their fathers than children born within marriage, there is a very clear informal “social law” joined by formal “family law” jointly dictating that father absence increases with out-of-wedlock births.”