op-ed

America Has A Major Fatherlessness Problem On Its Hands

After yet another school shooting, which we all knew would eventually happen, the connection between fatherlessness and school shooters has finally been seriously exposed.  Several videos, discussing the links between fatherlessness and school shooters, generated over ten million views and articles drew an unprecedented level of interest.  

In fact, for the first time in decades, the issue broke into the national media, in a significant way.  Top rated cable news program Tucker Carlson Tonight is dedicating every Wednesday in March to issues impacting “Men in America”.  In announcing the series, he said:

“Does a generation of boys growing up without fathers pose a threat to this country? Of course it does, why wouldn’t it?”  

Not to mention it hurts girls too.  

Just as importantly, much of the media covering the issue discussed not only the link to shooters, but also the extensive list of other consequences fatherlessness creates.  

Generating interest in fatherlessness is a welcomed step, but we’ve a long way to go, especially in educating elected officials.

Recently, Missouri Senator Mike Cunningham wrote:

“I knew the effects of single parent households on children, but I didn’t realize how devastating these effects were when both parents (divorced or not) were not involved in a child’s life.”

The Senator elaborated:

“I want to share a couple of the statistics the senator presented during his presentation to the committee.  As many as 71 percent of all high school students who are drop outs, come from a home where the father was not present in their life. The statistics of the effects of not having a father in the home are startling, and include:

  • 85 percent of all youth in prison come from fatherless homes;
  • 63 percent of youth suicides are from fatherless homes;
  • 71 percent of pregnant teenagers lack a father in the home; and
  • 90 percent of runaways or homeless teens are from fatherless homes.”

As startling as those statistics are, the consequences of fatherlessness are even worse than the Senator mentions, making its ramifications a frequent subject of local and regional editors as they plea for help in their communities.  

While appreciating that it’s impossible for elected officials to be experts in every area of public policy, too many don’t have the knowledge necessary to impact fatherlessness.  Pointedly, former US Representative George Radanovich wrote:

“0 percent of the 537 elected federal officials in Washington D.C. fully understand the relationship between the fatherless child and government costs; that dedicated parenting is essential to the pursuit of happiness and the lack thereof is the common denominator of the runaway cost of government”.

But even if elected officials were educated, what, if anything, could be done to address the fatherlessness?

In his 2016 article “A world without Fathers”, Ben Stein wrote:

What to do? I don’t know. But maybe have a President who talks about it. A sensitive subject for the incumbent, to be sure. But it’s his duty to inspire men to be better at fatherhood than his father was. Maybe pay men who knock up their women to stay with the kids. Maybe ask the music companies to stop glorifying sex without love.  Maybe a grandfathers’ corps of men like me to spend some time with fatherless kids and give them some little bit of male energy.”

A more recent column similarly struggled with proposing solutions, stating:

“Problems posed by the fatherless home have been building for decades, and there aren’t any quick fixes.  It would take a societal revolution in marital affairs to even begin turning things around. In the meantime, such organizations as Big Brother and Boys and Girls Clubs, mentoring programs and other groups that work with kids who may be in this situation deserve our support.”

While appreciating these suggestions, there are a number of specific actions American institutions could take to materially impact fatherlessness.  

In a series over the next five weeks, we’ll discuss several ways the institution of fatherhood has been denigrated, who has done it, and how fatherless children are created.  The analysis will cover the federal government, state governments, schools, the media, corporate America, special interest groups and fathers themselves. Most importantly, the series will include specific steps elected officials, judges, and corporate and cultural leaders, could take which would diminish Fatherlessness or improve the lives of children suffering from its effects.

Contrary to the beliefs of some, fatherlessness isn’t our inevitable future. The Guardian Editorial Board wrote:

“It is easy to succumb to the fatalist attitude that fatherhood is shaped by cultural norms and the state can do little to affect.  But there is much it can do”.

They’re right.  Changes in policy and cultural have substantially contributed to creating fatherless children and it’s entirely possible that those changes can be negated or even reversed.  The Guardian called to “put parenthood – not marriage or motherhood – at the heart of family policy”.  Government should also take the profit out of creating fatherless children. But these are generalities which need to be dissected in much more detail.  

After Parkland, there are signs some leaders are finally awakening to the horrible costs of fatherlessness on children, families and society.  Perhaps they’ll now be more open to a specific conversation about solutions.

Terry Brennan (@TerryBrennan211) is a Co-Founder of Leading Women for Shared Parenting (@LW4SP)


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.