I have avoided the easy target of Charlie Sheen for a few days now, because it is quite obvious to most people that he has been a terrible father. I don’t feel the need to “pile on.” However, there are a few things I would like to point out, especially as it relates to his show, Two and a Half Men.
For those of you who are not aware, Two and a Half Men is a sitcom about a divorced dad raising his son in the same household as his brother. The brother (the boy’s uncle) is played by Sheen. I always had a problem with the show’s title, because the reality is that neither of the men in the show are whole men. They are both half boys living with a boy who is a half man. If my math serves me correctly, that adds up to a grand total of one-and-a-half men.
Charlie Sheen’s character is an irresponsible, womanizing frat boy. Sound familiar? Talk about art imitating life. His brother is a milquetoast who allows his son to be exposed to and idolize an irresponsible, womanizing frat boy.
It is clear that Charlie Sheen and his character in the show want little to do with modeling responsible behavior for children. When asked recently who was parenting his kids he said, "Everybody here [at his house] is parenting the kids.” Talk about a cop out. Everyone is parenting them except the one parent in the house – him!
At a time when 24 million children (1 of 3) live apart from their fathers, we don’t need half-men. We need whole men – ones who provide, nurture, and guide their children, and who respect, not objectify, women.
The need for "whole men" has reached a critical point in our country - over 9 in 10 moms and dads believe there is a father absence crisis in America. The presence of good dads in children's lives is irreplaceable because good values are more easily caught than taught. Exposing a child to irresponsible behavior (like what Sheen is doing in real life and what his character’s brother is allowing to happen in the show) is more likely to influence him than simply teaching him responsible behavior. You have to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
And culture matters. That is why we sometimes “pick on” TV shows here on The Father Factor. Consider this - there has been an explosion of new glee clubs in schools across America since the show Glee became popular. So, how can we just ignore the fact that there are too many shows that feature irresponsible men and dads? What do these shows communicate to our children, who are “catching” values everywhere they turn?
While we can bicker over how harmful it is that Sheen's show was always a man short, what is not up for debate is how sad it is that his children are living lives that are one man short. But there is always hope for dads – NFI works with dads who are in prison, and many of them achieve remarkable turnarounds in their lives for the sakes of their children. So, here’s to hoping that Mr. Sheen also becomes the "whole man" his kids need.