Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sugar Coating Father Absence

There is a surreal piece in the June/July issue of Working Mother magazine called, "Why Don't I Have a Dad?" Often, articles that deal with how to handle tough questions from kids about their fathers' absence enter into the realm of "making adults feel better but doing nothing to actually help children."

This one, for example, says that when kids grow up in single-mother homes, they have a larger network of people involved in their lives, due to the increased support the mother needs. It sounds like a reasonable thought, but the reality - based on the research - is that single-parent homes have significantly smaller social networks - roughly half the size of a network that a child from a two-parent home will have.

The article also delves into the "wishful thinking" of "family diversity." It states you should celebrate how your family is "special." I am all for celebrating what we have, but not at the expense of making it seem like it is not such a big deal that a child is growing up without his or her father. There is just way too much evidence that it is bad for children. Adult fantasies of "family diversity" won't make the data disappear.


  1. I am very frustrated with selfish parents refusing to think first of their kids before giving up and consigning kids to be without a parent every day.

    I treasure each day with my kids (though they frustrate me many times) because I know that the teachable moments and special memories come only in quantity time, not on command or schedule.

    I understand that sometimes it's not possible to be together, but far too often parents claim that they have "tried everything" and give up. The reality is that they tried everything that they knew, or they tried only those things that were not uncomfortable or difficult before giving up.

  2. Christopher BrownJuly 13, 2009 at 6:04 PM

    The writer's attempt to show compassion for single-parent homes is admirable and reflects this tendency in the media. Unfortunately, it denies the reality that so many children from single-parent homes face--a much higher risk of poor outcomes. While we should continue to show compassion and do everything we can to help single parents and their children, we can't afford to sugar coat an issue that is so critical to the well-being of children and our society.


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