Sunday, June 28, 2009

Five Myths on Fathers and Family

Be on the lookout this week for stories with these bogus memes.

By W. Bradford Wilcox

With Father’s Day almost upon us, expect a host of media stories on men and family life. Some will do a good job of capturing the changes and continuities associated with fatherhood in contemporary America. But other reporters and writers will generalize from their own unrepresentative networks of friends and family members, try to baptize the latest family trend, or assume that our society is heading ceaselessly in a progressive direction. So be on the lookout this week for stories, op-eds, and essays that include these five myths on contemporary fatherhood and family life.

Open a newspaper or turn on a TV in the week heading up to Father’s Day and you are bound to confront a story on stay-at-home dads. I have nothing against stay-at-home dads, but they make up a minuscule share of American fathers.

For instance, less than 1 percent (140,000) of America’s 22.5 million married families with children under 15 had a stay-at-home dad in 2008, according to the U.S. Census. By contrast, about 24 percent (5,327,000) of those families had a stay-at-home mom. This means that the vast majoritymore than 97 percent — of all stay-at-home parents are moms, not dads.

The focus on Mr. Mom obscures another important reality. In most American families today, fathers still take the lead when it comes to breadwinning: In 2008, the Census estimated that fathers were the main provider in almost three-quarters of American married families with children under 18. Providership is important to protect children from poverty, raise their odds of educational success, and increase the likelihood that they will succeed later in life. Thus, the very real material contribution that the average American dad makes to his family is obscured by stories that focus on that exotic breed, the stay-at-home dad.

Another prevailing media myth is that contemporary women are looking for fathers who will split their time evenly between work and family life. It may be true for the average journalist or academic, but it is not true for the average American married mom.

married mothers nowadays do want their husbands to do their fair share of housework and childcare. But they do not define fairness in terms of a 50-50 balancing act where fathers and mothers do the same thing at home and work. Instead, contemporary mothers take into account their husbands’ work outside the home when they assess the fairness of the division of labor inside the home.

Moreover, most women who are married with children are happy to have their husbands take the lead when it comes to providing and do not wish to work full-time. For instance, a 2007 Pew Research Center study found that only 20 percent of mothers with children under 18 wanted to work full-time, compared with 72 percent of fathers with children under 18. My own research has shown that married mothers are happiest in their marriages when their husbands take the lead when it comes to breadwinning largely because his success as a provider gives her more opportunities to focus on the children, or balance childcare with part-time work (the most popular work arrangement for married mothers). So, on this Father’s Day, dads who are fortunate enough to hold down a good job and make a major contribution to their families financial welfare should take some comfort from the fact that they are likely to be boosting not only their families bottom line but also their wives’ happiness.

With the rise of cohabitation over the last 40 years, a large minority of American children will spend some time in a household headed by a cohabiting couple. Experts now estimate that about 40 percent of American children will spend some time in a cohabiting household, either because they are born into such a household or because one of their parents cohabits after a breakup. Faced with this reality, many journalists, scholars, and advocates are tempted to minimize the differences between married and cohabiting fathers and families.

But the reality is that, on average, cohabiting fathers do not compare with married fathers. As Sandra Hofferth of the University of Maryland and Kermyt Anderson of the University of Oklahoma found in a recent study, married fathers are significantly more involved and affectionate with their children than are cohabiting fathers. In fact, from their research, they conclude “that marriage per se confers advantage in terms of father involvement above and beyond the characteristics of the fathers themselves.”

Married fathers are also much more likely than their cohabiting peers to stick around. One recent study by Wendy Manning at Bowling Green State and Pamela Smock at the University of Michigan found that 50 percent of children born to cohabiting parents saw their parents break up by age five; by comparison, only 15 percent of children born to married parents saw their parents divorce by age five. Dad is much more likely to stick around if he has a wedding ring on his finger.

This is because, for men, marriage and fatherhood are a “package deal,” as sociologists Frank Frustenberg and Andrew Cherlin observed a number of years ago. By force of law and custom, marriage binds men to their families and gives them a recognizable role to play in the lives of their children. Try as they might, unmarried men typically find it difficult to be a consistent and positive force in the lives of their children.

Every couple of years, some journalist seeks to revive the myth of the good divorceoften to excuse his or her own bad behavior. Sandra Tsing Loh is Exhibit A this week. In the most recent issue of The Atlantic, she spends several thousand words trying to justify her divorce from her husband of 20 yearsa man she admits is a “good man” and “loving father” — under the cover of a sprawling, incoherent, and frankly disturbing review of five books on marriage and family life. (Among other things, the reader is regaled with all too much information about Loh’s private life; we learn, for instance, that one reason she ended up divorced is that she could not replace the “romantic memory of my fellow [adulterous] transgressor with the more suitable image of my husband.”)

Loh claims that her children appear to be doing just fine. Her two school-age girlsaged 7 and 9appear to be “unfazed” and “relatively content” in the midst of their parents’ divorce. Who knew divorce could be so easy on the kids?

In reality, Loh is probably deluding herself. The best social science presents a rather different picture than the rosy one Loh is trying to paint. According to research by Sara McLanahan of Princeton University and Paul Amato of Penn State, girls whose parents divorce are about twice as likely to drop out of high school, to become pregnant as teenagers, and to suffer from psychological problems such as depression and thoughts of suicide. Girls whose parents divorce are also much more likely to divorce later in life.

Moreover, studies indicate that children experience the most harm when their parents divorce after living together in a low-conflict marriage for many years (as Loh appears to have done). Why? These divorces come as the most surprising ones to children who thought that their parents had a good-enough marriage.

Loh manages to find for her Atlantic piece a bunch of well-educated friends who are also entertaining thoughts of divorce, she is (fortunately) in increasingly rare company. The work of sociologist Steven Martin indicates that since 1980, college-educated Americans have grown less tolerant of divorce, and the divorce rate among this cohort has fallen off sharply. Thus, well-educated readers of The Atlantic are unlikely to take Loh’s misleading and self-serving essay to heart.

The final myth propagated by journalists in connection with fatherhood these days is the myth of the dispensable father. Often conjured up in glowing profiles of women who have become single mothers by choice, this myth holds that fathers do not play a central role in children’s lives.

This myth fails to take into account the now-vast social scientific literature (discussed above) showing that children typically do better in an intact, married families with their fathers than they do in families headed by single mothers.

It also overlooks the growing body of research indicating that fathers bring distinctive talents to the parenting enterprise. The work of psychologist Ross Parke, for instance, indicates that fathers are more likely than mothers to engage their children in vigorous physical play (e.g., roughhousing), to challenge their childrenincluding their daughtersto embrace life’s challenges, and to be firm disciplinarians.

Not surprisingly, children benefit from being exposed to the distinctive paternal style. Sociologist David Eggebeen has shown, for instance, that teenagers are significantly less likely to suffer from depression and delinquency when they have involved and affectionate fathers, even after controlling for the quality of their relationship with their mother. In his words, “What these analyses clearly show is that mothers and fathers both make vital contributions to adolescent well-being.”

This is not to say that all journalists get it wrong when it comes to making sense of contemporary fatherhood and family life. This week, for instance, Sue Shellenberger at the Wall Street Journal had a great piece discussing the ways in which mothers serve as gatekeepers for fathers to their children; she also encourages mothers to allow fathers to engage children with their own distinctive style of parenting. Likewise, Linda Carroll at MSNBC has written an incisive story showing that involved and affectionate fathers play a crucial role in steering their daughters away from early sexual activity; in fact, it turns out that dads are more important than moms in protecting their teenage daughters from early sex.

In the coming years, we will need more tough-minded and honest journalism like the kind offered by Shellenberger and Carroll. This is particularly true because the cultural and economic storms of latee.g., the individualistic turn of contemporary life and the recessionhave been eroding the marital foundations of family life in America. Given the social scientific record on fatherhood, marriage, and family life, the United States could use more journalists who are willing to confront hard truths about the roles that fathers and marriage play in advancing the welfare of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens, our children, and the cultural, economic, and legal forces that are now undercutting marriage and fatherhood in America.

W. Bradford Wilcox is a professor of sociology at the University of Virginia and a senior fellow at the Institute for American Values.

National Review Online -

In Ireland more gender Apartheid ~ This pious and fatuous law is a charter for blackmailers

There is moral, perceptual and willful blindness by lawmakers who are unable to fathom the lack of logic in Victim Feminist lobbying efforts. The laws in Ireland are clearly designed to demonize boys and sanctify girls, the latter as innocent victims of the rapacious sexual appetites of boys in a frenzy of testosterone driven hunting for "jail bait". That the sex is consensual and perhaps initiated by the girl matters not. That might make most Irish lads, who may well be some of these same lawmakers criminals. Lucky for those who passed the law it is not retroactive.

By Kevin Myers

Friday June 26 2009

THE mob-leaders who led the hysteria accompanying the passage of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2006 must now be delighted with themselves.

Several teenage boys are awaiting trial on charges of having had sex with similarly under-age girls -- or as the Act, with a winsome political correctness, puts it: "a female child under the age of 17". If God is good, and the sisters have their way, these boys might well be sent to jail for up to five years. And maybe put on the sex offenders' register. Who knows, they might even have their lives ruined. What spiffing japes!

The scary emotionalising that passed for Dail debate just three years ago was the prelude to our beloved members of the Oireachtas concocting a truly appalling law.

And the hysteria on the issue of teenagers and sex -- whipped up by RTE, as always -- probably fuelled the sinister details of that law.

So the notion that a teenage boy and girl having consensual sex results in the boy alone facing criminal charges, is not some unexpected by-product of that law.

No, indeed, for this was both specifically intended and clearly foreseen. Section Five of the introduction of the Bill roundly declared: "Female child under 17 years not guilty of offence." And then, after laying out the punitive consequences for anyone who has consensual sex with a teenager between the ages of 15 and 17, the Bill declared in a single exculpatory paragraph: "A female child under the age of 17 shall not be guilty of an offence under this Act by reason only of her engaging in an act of sexual intercourse."

Not equal? Of course it's not equal. It wasn't intended to be equal.

Over to the DPP, James Hamilton, who wrote in his submission to the Oireachtas on this matter: "But equality under the Constitution does not require that all situations be treated alike -- indeed that would be inequality." Is that clear? Good. Now allow me to pause here, take a couple of Panadol, and to lie-down in a darkened, padded room. I may be some time.

Yet some people clearly saw what was coming down the track. The Fine Gael TD Damien English predicted: "There is a situation now where if two 16-year-olds have sex, and she becomes pregnant, the father could be in prison when she's having the baby. That's madness. . ."

Madness it certainly is. For the Oireachtas of 2006 deliberately devised special gender-apartheid laws in which only males could be culprits. So here's the picture. Take the foregoing couple of 16-year-olds having sex. What indeed if their consensual act resulted in a pregnancy?

Option One. Could the State be seen to be imprisoning an unmarried mum for performing the deed which made her an unmarried mum? Of course, not.

Option Two. Could it devise a legal code in which the girl was guilty only if the sexual deed did not result in a pregnancy? Too messy: suddenly mens rea and menses become inextricably intertwined.

Option Three. Just throw the boy to the wolves, and declare as a matter of law that under-age girls are always innocent. This, apparently, not merely achieves Orwellian dimensions of equality; it also has the added advantage of not alienating any of the simmering feminist army of lobby groups and quangos. There are, of course, no such bodies to protect that unloved species, teenage boys.

Yet this stinking law, probably in some mysterious way, genuinely reflects the will of the Dail; well, at least, over those hysterical few days anyway.

The minister, Michael McDowell, had in fact initially tried to introduce a balanced law which would at least have recognised reality and would, for example, have lowered the legal age of consent from 17 to 16. But he was overwhelmed by the usual media and political hysteria, and the outcome was yet again an Irish solution for an Irish problem.

In sheer fatuity and pious humbug, the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2006 is a match for most of the many preposterous forays into personal morality by the Irish state

Moreover, it is a blackmailer's charter. Any sexually-experienced 16-year-old girl who seduces an under-17 male -- not a difficult task, surely -- is always innocent under this law whereas he is always guilty.

If she chooses to, she can simply ruin his life. (So how much is it worth to him and his family for her not to complain?). And, of course, such a girl can move through the ranks of permanently tumescent 15-year-old lads -- doing this repeatedly if she so chooses. This is not 1950s Ireland. At least 40pc of youngsters under-17 have lost their virginity. Every boy who has had sex with a girl aged under 16 since 2006 is thus a criminal -- unless he was under 14 at the time in which case the girl, if over 14, might somehow or other be guilty. God knows. I certainly don't.

So a moral and legal slum -- and one that is probably constitutionally unsustainable -- has once again resulted merely because, YET again, the mob was allowed to call the shots. Do we never learn? No, of course we don't.

- Kevin Myers

Geoff Hibbert - M25 Batman UK Letter from Jail

1-888-F4J Canada

Press release

Contact: Kris Titus
Phone: 1-888-345-2262 ext.703

June 27, 2009

For Immediate Release June 27, 2009
Geoff Hibbert - M25 Batman UK
Letter from Jail
The Global Battle for equal rights.

F4J Fathers 4 Justice activists fighting for the rights of children to both parents face prison in the UK, Canada and the U.S.A.

Geoff Hibbert, aka M25 Batman, isn't the first and likely won't be the last superhero who has spent time in jail for this worthy and noble goal, but his may be the harshest sentence to date after being convicted by a Jury after police halted traffic on the M25 highway for many hours, he faces the possibility of a 7 year sentence.

"This unjustice at its best. You're kidding yourselves if you think F4J activists will crumble under these ever harsher punishments," says Kris Titus, National Coordinator for the Canadian arm of the International group, "if anything we dig in our heels any further. This is a human rights issue and it's about time it was addressed as one. We stand behind our members in the UK and in the US as well as our own activists facing imprisonment."

Hibbert has begun a hunger strike as he awaits sentencing and his lawyers attempt an appeal.

The news of his conviction has sent tidal waves throughout England and the International Fathers 4 Justice movement

Got your letter today 23/6/09
Thank you very much

Glad to see you and others are doing what you can for me

The court and judge & jury was totally wrong to send me or any father to prison
Because we fight for the right to see our children
Its mothers that should be put in prison not the fathers,

Please make sure that the support is there for me and other fathers

I am ok. And are going for bail this week I hope I get it will have to wait and see.

My new girlfriend is very upset over all this you can call her ***********
She will also let you know what is going on with the case
And the injustice that has been done to me and f4j
The judge said a lot of things about f4j and fathers

The jury of which some did not speak English at all, one of which could not even read the oath out in court,

Ron Reid is a very long and good friend and will talk to you and anyone we know all of my case and so does Marie my girlfriend

Have heard about the newspapers but have been unable to get my hands on any yet

Have not eaten anything from Thursday when I went down to cells but I am drinking tea that’s something

This shows that there is no justice for fathers

By the way the judge acted in this case,

They will not show me the you tube website, but they are trying to help me as much as they can and giving me there support

What happened with the tower protest in oxford the day I was sent down

I will keep my head up high for our children and for fathers of the injustice that the courts are doing to our children and for the fathers who care

Thanks for everything and everyone for there help and there support

Speak to you soon my friend

Geoff Hibbert

CONTACT: National Coordinator, Kris Titus 1-888-345-2262 ext. 703

National Website for more information about F4J Fathers 4 Justice Canada Canada:

National Action website: