The Dangers of Fatherlessness

An article in yesterday’s press had this headline: “Boys lack role models”. The piece began with these words: “A decline in the number of male teachers is being blamed for rising youth violence. Just 28 per cent of state schoolteachers are men, down from 32 per cent 10 years ago.

“Youth crime has soared in that time. Sex attacks, robberies, assaults and weapon offences have increased significantly, and psychologists and family groups told the Herald Sun the loss of male role models was an important factor.”

May I suggest that these experts have got things only partly right? Yes, kids suffer when there are no male role models around, and a lack of male teachers is indeed a worry. But this analysis simply does not go far enough. The real problem is more profound and of greater consequence.

The real problem is boys lack fathers. The major cause of all of this is that increasingly children are growing up in broken homes or single parent families, where no father is present. It is not just the lack of male role models that is behind this rise in crime, anti-social behaviour, and out-of-control kids.

The social science research on the importance of fathers is now extremely well-established, and quite convincing. Thousands of international studies have told us the same thing: children do better by every social indicator when a father is present.

While single-parent families (which are mainly mother-headed households) need all the help they can get, the truth is, children need both a mother and a father, and when one of these is absent – and it is usually the father – then kids are greatly disadvantaged, and can get into all sorts of strife.

Consider the issue the newspaper article has been talking about: youth violence. The evidence is in here: kids are more likely to become involved in violent, anti-social behaviour if they are raised without their biological father. Numerous studies have been undertaken which show a very real connection between delinquent and/or criminal behaviour, and broken families and father absence.

One study of 522 teenage girls, for example, found that girls in divorced families committed more delinquent acts (e.g., drug use, larceny, skipping school) than their counterparts in intact families. A family researcher examined a representative national sample of male and female youth aged 12-17 and found that adolescents in mother-only households were more likely to engage in deviant acts.

A study of street-gangs reveals this linkage as well. In an important book on the subject, Francis Ianni found that most gang members in America come from female-headed households. And a study of British communities found a direct statistical link between single parenthood and virtually every major type of crime, including mugging, violence against strangers, car theft and burglary.

Indeed, the very absence of intact families makes gang membership appealing. Many gang members view the gang as a kind of surrogate family. Often they have admitted, ‘It is like having a family’. Indeed, a recent New Zealand study found that 64.6 per cent of juvenile offenders had no birth father present.

A study reported in Psychology Today found that “90 per cent of repeat adolescent firestarters live in a mother-only constellation”. A Michigan State University study of 72 adolescent murderers discovered that 75 per cent of them had divorced or never-married parents. And a 1987 study by Raymond Knight and Robert Prentky of 108 violent rapists, all repeat offenders, found that 60 per cent came from single-parent homes.

One study tracked every child born on the Hawaiian island of Kauai in 1955 for 30 years. It found that five out of six delinquents with an adult criminal record came from families where a parent – almost always the father – was absent.

An American author, reviewing the evidence, reports the following: “Poverty alone does not explain all of these effects. Indeed, poverty may not explain any of them”. He cites a 1988 study which analysed victimisation data on over 11,000 individuals from three urban areas in New York, Florida and Missouri. It arrived at this startling conclusion: the proportion of single-parent households in a community predicts its rates of violent crime and burglary, but the community’s poverty level does not. Neither poverty nor race seem to account very much for the crime rate, compared to the proportion of single parent families, the study found.

In Australia, a book on family matters by Alan Tapper highlights this connection between broken families and crime. In a study of rising crime rates in Western Australia, Tapper suggests that “family breakdown in the form of divorce and separation is the main cause of the crime wave”.

A longitudinal study of 512 Australian children found that there are more offenders coming from families of cohabiting than married couples, and there are proportionally more offenders who become recidivists coming from families of cohabiting than married couples. The study concludes, “The relationship between cohabitation and delinquency is beyond contention: children of cohabiting couples are more likely to be found among offenders than children of married couples”.

Those who work with juvenile offenders in Australia confirm these findings. John Smith of Care and Communication Concern in Melbourne has spent decades working with homeless youth and young offenders. He says that “almost 100 per cent” of these kids are from “single parent families or blended families”.

An American FBI agent who specialises in serial killers has said that most of them come from a dysfunctional family with an absent father. A magistrate I happened to dine with not long ago told me that the overwhelming number of youth offenders he deals with in court come from broken homes and/or fatherless families.

Even researchers who are wary of making a connection between broken families and crime have conceded that some relationship exists between the two. For example, Demo and Acock, who reviewed dozens of studies on the subject, concluded: “A tentative conclusion based on the evidence reviewed here is that antisocial behaviour is less likely to occur in families where two adults are present, whether as biological parents, step-parents, or some combination of biological parents and other adults”.

Strong connections between crime and family breakdown have been made by the Centre for Independent Studies in Sydney, which compared crime rates with out-of-wedlock birth rates from 1903 to 1993. It found that the “percentage of ex-nuptial births correlates significantly with both serious and violent crime at both one and two decades time lapse”.

Such evidence can be produced here at length. Suffice it to say that the social sciences data simply confirm what most of us already know by common sense: when we raise a generation of fatherless kids we are asking for, and getting, real trouble.

By all means, we can seek to up the number of male teachers in our schools. But far more important is to ensure, as much as possible, that every child grows up with his or her biological parents. Both mothers and fathers play a crucial role in the development and wellbeing of children. We owe it to our children to help make this a reality for them.

[1184 words]

35 Replies to “The Dangers of Fatherlessness”

  1. As usual Bill Muehlenberg goes to the heart of the problem. If only our parliamentarians and law makers would listen. It almost seems as if they have a vested interest in the ever increasing Anarchy.
    Warwick Marsh

  2. Well said Bill. The ‘political correctness’ (ought to be called political badness) which has reached consensus in political life in the Western world is about peer pressure and careerism of the politicians. Many do not even believe it yet cowardly express support for defacto arrangements, multiple partners with women having childen with several different men (common palce in Sydney’s wesern suburbs). Marriage between one man and one woman is treated with patronising smiles and weasle words.

    One only has to watch that dreadful Q and A programme ont he ABC to hear the rubbish that even many politicians seek to curry favour with. They do so unashamedly.

    May more of us enter politics in an organised way so that traditional marriage and stronger fatherhood be given the status it deserves.

    Michael Webb

  3. Bill I agree with you 100% but what can we do? I do my best to be a male christian and role model for the young men who are and have been in my life,
    but its not enough. I pray that all christians in Australia rise up and take a stance. Weve got men with sheds in various suburbs, so retired men can do some hands on mans stuff, because it makes them feel useful. We need to be doing this for our young ones.
    Who is with me?
    Daniel Kempton

  4. Thanks Daniel

    You are quite right in seeking to be a role model and an example here. That is a major first step. Other things we might do would include:

    -Rethinking our easy, no-fault divorce laws and other legislation.
    -Changing tax policies which are not family-friendly, and looking at various pro-family economic policies.
    -Resisting the negative images and messages coming from popular culture.
    -Praying like mad and seeking for revival in our lives and our churches.

    Many more things might be done, but as you say, the turnaround must begin with us.

    Also, in some of my articles in the ‘Family’ section I address these sorts of issues.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  5. Bill,
    I’m officially hooked – every morning when I get into work one of the first things I do is log onto this site to see what you have put up for discussion. This site is certainly addictive. Keep up the great work mate.
    Steve Davis

  6. Dear Bill, I come from a simple society and very traditional. Fathers are important. Until today at nearly 50 it is my father I turn to for objectivity and advice sometimes regarding my husbands behaviour that I cannot understand!!!! Or about life as he says education is everything as ignorance is too high a price to pay. I have noticed in living here my new home, that a fathers role is not given the importance that God has by creating a mother & A FATHER. The society does not reflect this at all. thus I believe the decay in the young ones. Although my husband attends alot of talks on raising boys, we have a son, and this is good but it is not enough. The young boys really need their fathers at an age where they are finding themselves and what it means to become a man. This is what they look for and when it is missing their lives go astray as they havent been shown.
    Siti Khatijah

  7. Come on Bill, clearly as Mathew pointed out in one of his recent posts, that none of this “science” is valid, and all of this must be motivated by bigotry against single mothers and dead-beat fathers on your part. For shame on you Bill.

    How can you let reality get in the way of PC considerations like you do? Have you no shame?

    Jason Rennie

  8. Thanks Steve

    But I hope your addiction does not become so severe that I have to form a CultureWatch Anonymous group to deal with your problem!

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  9. Thanks Jason

    Yes I know it is always unfair to expect mere trifles like fact, reason, evidence and truth – not to mention reality – stand in the way of some people’s ideology!

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  10. found that five out of six delinquents with an adult criminal record came from families where a parent – almost always the father – was absent

    Yet we have a delinguent government in Queensland that just passed the surragacy bill. (perhaps they were all fatherless to be this irresponsible)

    There have been many studies of this kind and the results are well known throughout the community.

    Why is it then that we have governments like the Bligh government deliberately denying the rights of a child to that of a mother or father?

    Our society is not perfect and many single parent families have to struggle on alone. Its when governments deliberatly legislate to assist and nuture crime in this state that one has to wonder.

    Yes it is logical and is well known, so why would our politicians vote the way they did, knowing full well the consequences of this bill.

    Its generally accepted that an ALP Senator is a useless Senator as they act as servants to the lower house.

    It now seems apparent that lower house members of the ALP (especially in Qld) fall into that category as well.

    Tony Zegenhagen

  11. Just another point on the importance of the father. The family law system is in dire need of overhaul as it too does not reflect or respect the role of fathers. I cant think why not because arent they males sitting on the bench listening and deciding?
    Siti Khatijah

  12. Thanks Siti

    Yes you are quite right to raise the issue of the Family Law courts and the anti-male crusades being pursued there. I hope to soon write on that issue as well.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  13. Bill

    If you start a CA group you will have to include me. I visit the site at least once a day.

    Also, as a father of a newborn, do you know if there has been any studies done on the influence of fathers at this very early age? I know of one study that showed better bodily development at even 6 months for those babies with a father present.

    Damien Spillane

  14. Bill,
    This particular addiction is actually good for my mind – in this case reading properly constructed and well thought out items which cover the relevant issues of the day. I have actually been directing people to log in here and have a look for themselves. The alternative is to read crap and unfortunately there seems to be more of that around than stuff like the articles found here.
    Steve Davis

  15. I don’t think we can blame the government for every ill in society. Somewhere along the line every individual must take responsibility for their own lives, and too many men simply lack the right character. They leave the child-rearing largely to their wives while they pursue their careers and hobbies.

    While most women get some education about being future mothers (and thankfully this has moved on from just cooking and sewing), many men have had no parenting education at all. This is changing, but is not given nearly enough emphasis.

    The patriarchal society is also to blame, since it encourages men to act more like a boss than an equal partner in marriage. I was like that once too, but thankfully my wife re-trained me (grin). I despair when I go to churches that actively preach male headship and female submission.

    Alcohol and drugs are another factor, both amongst parents and teenagers, buit that’s another topic all on its own.

    Mike Robertson, NSW

  16. Hi again Mike,

    It’s uncanny that just recently in our last dialogue I said to you:

    “Once the authority of the Bible is let go of, there is no logical reason to stop the reinterpreting just with Genesis.”

    And now you prove my point perfectly by saying:

    “I despair when I go to churches that actively preach male headship and female submission.”

    The Bible says:

    “For the husband is the head of the wife” (Eph 5:23) and “Wives submit to your husbands” (Eph 5:22, Col 3:18). So preaching male headship and female submission (in marriage) is entirely Biblical (when keeping this in the context of how the Bible says husbands are to treat their wives, of course).

    My point is that the Bible makes perfect sense when it is read straightforwardly from Genesis to Revelation. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that it pays to be very wary when modern theologians tell us that the Bible is actually written in riddles, and they have only just managed to decipher them with their new politically correct interpretations.

    Mansel Rogerson

  17. Great article Bill.

    I often consider the possibility that the great wars are partly responsible for the erosion of social values we endure today.

    Millions of men fought in wars at home and abroad while the wife took on the male role of being the man of the house. Millions of soldiers never returned home and millions of children grew up fatherless. The boys grew up unsure of how to approach women, most of them just looked at women in the way which was conveyed to them by televison, obviously encourging promiscuity.

    Anyways, just one man’s opinion.

    Danilo Rajkovic

  18. Mike re “male headship and female submission”

    As you have expressed it, I would tend to agree with you, but only partly.

    Stated as you have done takes the text out of context (and I know that it is often preached, or heard, wrongly).

    The passages, including those Mansel quotes are firmly in the context of
    a) mutual submission, to God and to each other
    b) the marriage relationship.

    Consequently, I urge you to be careful to only attack the heresy, and to properly uphold the truth by “rightly dividing the word of Truth.”

    There is always a place for mutual submission, but within the family/marriage relationship, the buck has to stop somewhere and God has ordained that the tough decisions be taken by fathers/husbands.

    John Angelico

  19. Hi Mansel,

    Different era, different society, different culture. I don’t accept that those views of Paul were necessarily intended for Australian society in the 21st century.

    You are perfectly entitled to interpret the Bible as you see fit. Please accord me the same courtesy.

    Mike Robertson

  20. Actually Mike, this is not a cultural issue. It’s a fundamental authority and submission issue, and a misunderstanding of God’s design in it. It is a fundamental concept that pervades scripture at many levels, from God as the husband and the church as the bride, as to why God is referred to as He and not She, to the many scriptures referring to the different roles that man and woman occupy.

    Yes, marriage is a partnership, but the partners occupy different roles. There is specific design and purpose in the way that man and women have been made sexually, mentally and physically. You’d think me silly to ask why you don’t give birth to your children, and yet you also assume that the wife should be sharing the same responsibilities that the husband has been given. A telltale sign as to how far the pendulum has swung away from the proper balance is that people find the statement ‘father knows best’ offensive, and there will always be an immediate injunction so as not to exclude the woman in this statment, or even make light of the fact that ‘mother knows better’.

    One cannot fully understand authority until one understands submission. Jesus was in full authority because he was fully submitted to God’s will. Man and woman cannot fully understand their individual authority until they understand their individual responsibilites in submission. God has put in place a divine order for Mankind, made in his image Man & Woman, which, if ignored or tampered with creates imbalance which will (not may, but will) cause error and breakdown in relationships.

    This is not a new doctrine that you are parroting. It has been the last half century that Christian churches have started preaching a ‘version’ or ‘interpretation’ of these scriptures which lends itself to a feminist way of thinking. In those 50 or so years we have seen divorce and family breakdown become the order of the day *within* the church, and as such we have seen an enormous and terrible flood of mayhem result. Its disgraceful what erroneous teaching such as this has done. It has ruined many marriages, and created a wedge between fathers, their wives and their children, and all in the name of ‘new era thinking’ and political correctness. Bill describes the results above.

    If you cannot see the parallel between the rise of feminism and the damage that has done, and the rise of this erroneous teaching then you’re not looking very hard. Take your rightful place before God and allow your wife to take hers right beside you. Because it’s God’s plainly stated design, you’ll all be better off for it.

    Garth Penglase

  21. Thanks Mike

    The debate about men and women, headship and submission, and related issues is a very complex and nuanced discussion which I don’t necessarily want to enter into here. However, I must say I was a bit concerned about your claim: “Different era, different society, different culture. I don’t accept that those views of Paul were necessarily intended for Australian society in the 21st century.”

    Now the issues of inerrancy, biblical authority, and understanding cultural and historical elements in divine revelation are also huge, complicated and contentious issues. So I cannot here even begin to do justice to them. But let me make a few brief remarks.

    Those who have a high view of Scripture of course recognise that this is a divine/human book, with divine and human authorship. But it is customary of theological liberals to simply dismiss large portions of scripture by simply claiming they are culturally bound and offer no universal or absolute truth.

    Again, this is a quite complex debate, and many thousands of words would be needed to flesh it out properly, but I simply find your remark to be a bit too dismissive and cavalier. The truth is, Paul’s statements (and those of others) are part of God’s revealed word to us, and they need to be taken seriously. Sure, in doing this we must seek to understand the historical, social, cultural and linguistic background behind these words, but we need to be careful not to simply dismiss those bits we disagree with as merely being for ‘another time, place, culture’.

    That may or may not have been your intent, and I don’t want to second guess you here. But this article really has to do with the evidence for the importance of fathers, rather than the biblical and theological debate over the role and place of women and the like. Perhaps I need to pen a specific piece on that topic in the future.

    So while I will allow some debate on that important issue here, I will seek to keep us on topic as well.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  22. Bill,

    We all dismiss parts of scripture as culturally-bound, e.g. those related to food, circumcision, clothing, hair length, cultic practices etc. We all (or at least I hope we do) also question the violent patiarchalism of the Old Testament as contextual. So everybody “picks and chooses” according to their subjective opinion, scriptural upbringing, education and common sense.

    You are entitled to proclaim and support your particular brand of orthodoxy, but I resent being personally lectured to as if your way is the only “right” way to view scripture. A “plain reading” view of scripture, which seemingly only plain readers describe as a “high view”, leads to all sorts of conundrums and contradictions. Are men with long hair or women with short hair to be shamed? (1 Cor 11:14-16). Should we really stone disobedient children to death? (Deut 21:18-21). Should we respond to fools or ignore them? (Prov 26:4-5).

    And more pertinately to the current discussion, should we listen to Paul when he encourages authoritarianism in marriage and says that women should be silent in church, or should we listen to his words to the Galatians:
    .. there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. Gal 3:28.

    But the one issue that causes me to reject a literal reading of scripture is the interpretation of Genesis to mean recent creation, against incontrovertible evidence to the contrary. How can Christianity regain its once high esteem in the world when it is unable to provide a coherent and rational explanation of origins?

    Mike Robertson

  23. Thanks Mike

    But given that you are saying much the same as what I have been saying – that we need to understand the historical and cultural background as part of our exegesis and hermeneutics – why is that when I say this it comes across as being “personally lectured to”, yet it somehow does not when you say it? Indeed, I did not even declare my hand here as to how I stand on the issue.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  24. Bill,

    I thought you made your position pretty clear when you expressed concern about my previous response to Mansel and implied that I had “simply dismissed” the passages from Paul. If you weren’t promoting biblical literalism I would have expected some comment also about Mansel’s and John’s views.

    Anyway, to get back on topic, I still believe that an authoritarian approach to marriage cannot be justified by deference to Paul. And my life experience informs me that marriages work best, and kids are less likely to be rebellious and violence-prone, where the partners share equal responsibility for parenting and homemaking.

    Mike Robertson

  25. I have to agree with Mansel above in his appraisal of the underlying reason for Mike’s problem with believing the Bible. In his own words Mike now admits that because he can’t believe what the Bible says about Creation then he feels free to jettison any other passages he finds inconvenient. Creationists have been saying for a long time that abandoning what the Bible clearly says about Creation then opens a door to further liberal reinterpretations of Scripture which often even leads to total apostasy.

    Unfortunately Mike has been deceived into believing there exists “incontrovertible” evidence that contradicts the biblical creation account. The reality is that because such events are past events, empirical science can neither prove nor disprove them. I have to also ask “how can Christianity regain its once high esteem in the world” when it is seen to be unwilling to take the Bible at face value and instead adopts convoluted and compromised explanations of origins?

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria.

  26. Hi Mike, will keep this short as it is off topic…
    You said “But the one issue that causes me to reject a literal reading of scripture is the interpretation of Genesis to mean recent creation, against incontrovertible evidence to the contrary.”

    And what incontrovertible evidence would that be? I would suggest that you read some of the articles on the Creation Magazine site before calling all evidence to the contrary of Genesis account of creation “incontrovertible”. Much of the ‘findings’ of modern science that you must be taking as ‘fact’ is based on assumptions, and history has proven that the more that we come to truly know as absolute fact, the more that science teaches us, the more it comes to prove the veracity of the Biblical history – it’s just that much of what we currently know is only partial or simply incorrect, just as concepts in the past which seemed to ‘prove’ the bible untrustworthy were later shown to be incorrect and built upon a lack of scientific understanding.

    For someone who doesn’t like his doctrinal approach to be questioned and defends it by asking us not to ‘lecture’ you, you seem particularly dogmatic about your own views, which seem quite liberal, and would go against mainstream Christian doctrine in a number of areas.

    Oh, and not to be picky, but I’m more than a bit confused by the last sentence. I thought that Jesus made it clear that His followers were *not* going to be esteemed by the world, in fact persecuted shunned and outcast, and secondly I never realised that we needed to prove God’s existence or the rightness of His word – I thought it was pretty plain that His Ways are higher and we are sort of expected to take both come to Him on the basis of faith, and also take His Word on faith. It sounds to me that unless it fits with your guidelines of what you can rationally believe then it isn’t so.

    ps. quoting sections as you have from Deuteronomy & Proverbs to use as points about literal bible interpretation is questionable at the best of times given standard exegesis.

    Garth Penglase

  27. Thanks guys

    A reminder that this post is on the evidence for the importance of fathers, not the biblical view of male-female relationships and questions of headship, or the age of the earth. Thus I want to get us back on track here.

    Hoewever, since this is my website, and I am its moderator, I will exercise some editorial privilege here and offer a final word on some of these matters.

    I contine to be concerned about Mike’s assertions and rhetoric. The furphy about literalism is of course just that – a furphy. No one worth his salt here denies the importance of interpreting scripture not only in its historical-grammatical setting, but also in its cultural and literary setting as well. Of course allowances always must be made for different genres, the use of metaphorical language, and so on. So this is just a red herring.

    But I find time and time again that those who question a much more important issue – the authority of Scripture – are the ones to throw around lines about “literalism” and the like. This is not about hermeneutics so much as a more vital issue: Is the Bible authoritative in all that it has to say about matters of faith and practice or is it not? That is the crucial issue here.

    With Mike’s various throw-away lines about literalism, outdated culture, and so on, I find much to be concerned about here in terms of whether Scripture is being taken seriously. But that is another debate and we will have to leave it at that.

    So, I exercise my editorial rights by declaring that all further comments must be on the original post’s subject matter. Those who don’t like that are free to start their own websites and deal with all the headaches of moderation and editorial control!

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  28. I must have missed this one. However consider this until Jesus comes we will allways be fighting a rear guard action the only difference is we must never surrender. Slowly over the years the tempter has greatly increased the temptations and as we accept each one as normal the penalty is considered redundant and a new standard becomes the norm.

    By law children in Amercia must have at least (at least) 20 vaccinations of drugs and chemicals before they are six months old. That’s a bit like doing a rebore and piston change on your car about 3 weeks after purchase to ensure its health. It does more harm than good. America despite all these vaccines now stands at number two in the so-called civilised world as having the highest infant mortality rate ever. With all those vaccines the children should be the healthiest but most vaccines are produced using green monkey’s or others and we can’t escape their DNA. So do we have a mark of the real beast of sorts? This alone has taken away the governance and power of both parents and as a result the death rate and maybe other afflictions is catastrophic.

    The feminists have abortion on demand it’s their choice they say. If they are incapable of a more simple choice in the first place why do they deserve the choice of life and death over the child in the second? Fathers who contribute to a pregnancy should also consider their responsibilities or use protection or better still abstain but that would be hypocritical of me. However having said that even if a father is willing to take on the support of a child which in effect is at least 50% his he doesn’t get that choice. The child he has fathered can be murdered and he will lose a son or daughter without any recourse to his opinions or choice.

    Give the man those very same choices and the cry would reverberate around the world. We as males are being outgunned and may very well be outlawed. It doesn’t take a Rhodes Scholar to see the evidence of too much power on one side of the gender bar and the resultant paganism developing in the chidlren. Remember it only takes one generation to make a pagan nation. As a side issue Why do we not have a minister for mens interests? Now that could be an option worth fighting for and might just bring some of these problems to light and balance the scales a little better.

    Unlike us the evil one continues his work 24/7. Each new law granting so-called freedoms without restraint is a perpetual war against those that want to maintain some moral fabric in this world. In the scheme of things it is just a skirmish but as time goes by some of us accept it and each new generation thinks it’s normal. The man holds the seed of the next generation but to some we have just become a source. It is time we also fought for equality and to do that we need some political force to rein in the rampant feminist agenda.

    Dennis Newland

  29. Thanks Bill,

    Last night I was watching a documentry on the history of The Bloods and the Crips. Throughout this entire documentry the common theme that kept coming in for me was the lack of fathers in these guys lives. There was a moment where a hardenned member of the bloods who had prior spoke of the ability to push through the moral issue of murder began to break down as he talked about always wondering why his father never loved him and why he wasnt there for him. He spoke of being raised by other gang members on the streets and he was never tauhght about how to be a man.

    There were striking statistics in this LA community. 80% of all the families were without a father and you see these mothers that are helpless to control their sons and daughters. I found it very interesting and thought I would share.

    God bless you Bill

    Benjamin Soleim

  30. I have read the article with a lot of interest and have been very intested with the feedback since I work with these young people in the prison system every day and they break my heart. Are there any men out there that are willing to become involved in a mentorship program for some of these young men and women who have never known love? I would so badly want to start somewhere and I know that the only way to do that is to start doing and stop talking.
    Andriette du Plessis

  31. Hi Mike,
    Hats off to you for expressing your opinion about the commonly perceived correlation between undesirable behaviour and family dynamics. I’ve been blessed to have worked closely with families as initially as a Teacher then as a Secondary Principal. Consequently, I’ve journeyed with many families, especially in relation to behavioural matters. I encourage you Mike to consider two other variables: (i) the significant number of single mum (or dad) families that exist because of the unforeseen death of their spouse, and (ii) the importance of love as the essential, primae variable of a loving home that promotes loving children. The death of a spouse does not mean the children should be categorised as a ‘mother-only (or father-only)’ family. I’ve known many (especially Christian families) and I believe they would be deeply offended by the over-riding generalisation presented within your essay. This is where generalisations (ala labels) can be harmful to families who are doing it tough because of an unexpected death. In the context of compassion and empathy, I encourage you to be more mindful of this ‘sub-set’ within your categorizations. My understanding of Scripture is that love is observed to be the most influential force known to mankind, evidenced by Christ’s life and choices. The inference that single families are a problem to society needs more specific differentiation and a focus on the attributes of a loving home, rather than approaching the issue within a paradigm of categorization. I think your approach to behavioural problems was unecessarily harsh and simplistic. Having said that, my deepest respect and admiration for tackling an increasing problem within our western society. Thank you for the opportunity to reflect and respond.
    Des Mitchell

  32. Thanks Des

    It is not quite clear if you meant to respond to me or to Mike here. If you did mean me, a few quick replies. We now have over 10,000 international social science studies demonstrating that family structure does overwhelming matter, especially for the well-being of children. Nothing comes close to the married heterosexual family unit when it comes to superior outcomes for children, and for couples, for individuals and society. In that sense it is not at all narrow, harsh or simplistic to argue for the two-parent family cemented by marriage.

    Christians of all people should go along with God’s ideal for humanity, not various trendy social experiments. All this is not to suggest of course that other family structures do not need help. Single-parents, through no fault of their own, need all the help and assistance we can provide. But there is a huge difference between less than ideal family structures being accidently forced upon us (eg, through the death or desertion of a spouse) and the deliberate bringing into existence of such family structures (eg., deliberate single-parenting, lesbians or singles using IVF to have children, same-sex coupling, and so on).

    So on both the social science level, and on the biblical level, Christians of all people should not be ashamed in the least to uphold the ideal of the two-parent family.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  33. It’s crazy that most serial killers come from a family with absent fathers, but it makes a little sense. I think having a dad, or even just a father figure, is important. Without one, you’re missing out on a lot of benefits.

  34. When I ended up as a sole parent after an abusive marriage, I did not let my sons lose contact with their father. He lived close by and I explained to the boys that they did not ever have to ask permission to see him but they just had to let me know where they were going. I felt that they still had the right to a relationship with their father even though I knew there was risk with our history. So they spent time with him, but I also made sure they spent a lot of time with male role models from church – solid, strong Christian men.
    However, the abuse from the boys’ father continued after separation. Now that they are adults it is clear that although I surrounded them with strong male role models, it was the relationship with their father that mattered the most. Godly male role models are not always sufficient to fill the gap created by an absent father (or an abusive one who is present). The most important male relationship in boys’ lives is with their father – it is this relationship that has long term impact and shapes the men they become. And without that we are seeing many young growing into dysfunctional, shapeless adults without a compass for life.
    I will always be thankful for those Godly men who supported my boys, and know that the boys benefited much from the time spent with them. But all of the boys are now deeply wounded young men – none with children, nor ever wanting children, because they are very aware that they would make poor fathers.
    Having read Paul Vitz’s “Faith of the Fatherless”, I am well aware through some of the examples he cites that there are exceptions where strong male role models have succeeded in filling the gap left by absent or abusive fathers, but Vitz asserts that these are the exceptions rather than the rule – boys are truly best shaped by their fathers and their absence is detrimental to both boys and girls.
    Years later I find I am working with separated families and one thing I am very thankful for – at this stage it is still ok in the workplace for me to tell a separated parent that their children need their mother and their father – that the children have a right to a meaningful relationship with both their parents. It’s amazing how many parents think the other parent is just not necessary to their children’s well-being and development, especially mothers with girls entering their teenage years. I try to communicate to them how essential their daughter’s father is in those teenage years, in terms of teaching daughters how they should expect to be treated by the young men that will come into their lives as they mature, and to affirm their personal worth and identity so that they don’t have to go looking elsewhere for such affirmation. And when I tell dads that their teenage daughters need them, they are amazed that no one has ever explained this or taught them such things. They are literally overwhelmed by the idea that they are important in the lives of their teenage daughters.

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