Last week I discussed the correlation between fatherless boys and societal crime. But what about fatherless girls? Surely their impact on society is less serious?
Of course not. In fact, I could argue that fatherless girls have a more profound and long-term impact on society than fatherless boys.
You see, boys without dads often act out in spectacularly violent and disruptive fashions, whether it’s flash mobs or gang membership or rapes or robberies or whatever. When a fatherless boy is acting out his pain, we know it.
But fatherless girls are seldom this dramatic. Instead, they act out their pain and suffering in different ways. Fatherless girls are far more likely to drop out of school, suffer from depression or other emotional disorders and mask their pain through increased promiscuity.
In short, fatherless girls have babies. Without fathers.
Since the 1960s, women have been sold a bill of goods when they were told they could have it all. And for too many women, “having it all” included having children without the financial support of a husband.
For most men, marriage instills a sense of maturity and responsibility. They will work hard at whatever job they can find in order to provide for their wife and children. This is the fundamental nature of a needed male. But when men aren’t needed – when the federal government takes their place as financial provider – too many men throw up their hands and say, “I’m outta here.” That’s when the tragedy of fatherlessness comes full circle. There are few things more painful to a child than to be raised without a dad.
For too many fatherless girls, the need for a male role model in their lives is fulfilled by seeking the attention of boys and men, sleeping around until they finally get pregnant in order to having something to love, someone who will love them back. So fatherless girls give birth to more fatherless children.
And this can happen shockingly quickly. I know a woman who was a mother at 15, a grandmother at 30 and a great-grandmother at 45. In none of these cases was a man involved except at the moment of procreation.
Poverty follows. According to a study from the Brookings Institute, young adults who finish high school, get a full-time job, and wait until age 21 and get married before having children “had a 2 percent chance of winding up in poverty and a 74 percent chance of winding up in the middle class (defined as earning roughly $50,000 or more). By contrast, young adults who violated all three norms had a 76 percent chance of winding up in poverty and a 7 percent chance of winding up in the middle class.”
Fatherlessness is endemic in our culture today. According to Larry Elder, 72 percent of black children are now born out of wedlock, 36 percent of white children are without fathers, and 53 percent of Hispanic children are born outside the bonds of marriage.
That’s a lot of pain.
Fathers provide so much more than mere financial support. They are a mirror to their daughters, reflecting a girl’s self-esteem back on her. Girls raised with their fathers know that their worth comes from what’s between their ears, not what’s between their legs.
It’s ironic that 40 years after feminists told women they should be valued for their intelligence and that men were useless (“A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle”), we now have more and more fatherless girls who seek self-esteem through promiscuity rather than education, marriage and motherhood. This is progress?
A father teaches his girls what to expect from men. If a bad father slaps around their mother, drinks himself into a stupor every night and has numerous affairs, then that’s what girls will permit when they’re older. But if a good father treats his wife with respect, works hard to provide for his family and is faithful, then that’s what his daughters will expect in their future.
A good dad teaches his girls how men should behave. He guides them and, more importantly, he protects them. Do you think my teenage daughters would bring a loser of a boyfriend home to meet Dad? Heck no. Dad would take one look and run the loser off. So our girls aren’t even inclined to look at the loser in the first place.
But too many people deny the importance of dads. After all, children are adaptable, right? They’ll get over it.
Wrong. Just because children are forced to adapt to life without dad doesn’t mean they’re not masking intense pain. When adolescence hits, boys often act out their pain in accordance with their growing size and strength. They indulge in their testosterone-fueled drive for sex and violence, unchecked or unrestrained by the guidance of an older father figure.
Girls, deprived of a father’s love during childhood, spend much of their lives lurching around and looking for love in all the wrong places. To be blunt, far too many fatherless girls sleep around with endless numbers of men, desperately seeking male approval, the approval they lacked while growing up.
And of course, this results in many babies. Fatherless babies. Babies that grow up into boys and girls who won’t have a dad. And so the cycle continues, widens and worsens.
And that’s why fatherless girls have a more profound and long-term impact upon society than the violence or sexual proclivities of fatherless boys. Fatherless girls are usually the ones producing the next generation of fatherless children, which perpetuates the cycle of pain, violence and poverty.
I have a friend who is a family physician. In a heart-tugging article that appeared in the May 2008 issue of Touchstone Magazine, he wrote, “When Dad is not there – ‘there,’ as in living there in the home – something deep in a child’s psyche perceives a critical deficit, a desperate and frightening imbalance that preys on the child’s particular vulnerabilities, causing him to careen off into unhealthy extremes.”
While there are situations in which men change their spots and abandon their families after marriage, in most cases the tragedy of fatherlessness can be laid at the feet of women through bad choices. It’s not enough to say that men should “man up” and father their offspring, though of course they should. Women also need to “man up” and show men that intimacy won’t happen outside of the proper conditions. Savvy?
Reducing fatherlessness is the only true preventative for violence in our society. We don’t need to disarm America; we need to restore fathers.