Friday, September 9, 2011

When "Father" Loses All Meaning

There is an incredibly profound line in the movie The Incredibles. The bad guy, Syndrome, says, "When everyone's super, no one will be."

I was reminded of this line when I read this article about a sperm donor being the "father" of 150 children.

It is the last line of the article that reminds me of Syndrome's wisdom: “How do you make connections with so many siblings? What does family mean to these children?”

We live in an age of "family relativism" where the definition of family has become so broad that it has lost all meaning: when everything is a family, nothing is.

NFI's president was at a recent meeting of government officials in which someone asked "how do you define family?" The answer given by the government official was "we define family as any unit in which there is love." Really?

That definition implies where there is not love, there is not family. So, if I am told to pay child support, can I just say, "I don't love my kids, therefore they are not my family, therefore, I don't have to pay child support"? Try that argument out in court.

The reality is that this "love" definition is absolutely not how the government, nor anyone else, should or does define family.

As far as the impact on fatherhood is concerned, this is where I am most worried. Since fatherhood is a culturally constructed institution, when the culture is completely confused about what family is, fatherhood inevitably suffers. The above article discusses how sperm donor fathers are taken by surprise by how many kids their sperm is being used to create. They are keeping spreadsheets to keep track... is this heartless monstrosity the future of family and fatherhood? And note that the article says nothing about the negative consequences that these children will face as a result of growing up without dads.

Tell us what you think...


  1. Children who are "fathered" by sperm donors are not necessarily fatherless children. Perhaps it was not intended, but it appears this author is implying that children being raised by adoptive fathers are at a disadvantage. There are plenty of children biologically related to one father who are raised by adoptive fathers in two-parent homes.

    Whatever one believes about children being raised by single mothers, I do not believe that children who are raised by adoptive fathers (and mothers) are worse off than their peers raised by biological fathers.

    I believe fathers are very important in the lives of children, but adoptive fathers are no less effective than biological fathers when attachment is allowed from very early in the child's life.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Christina. I was not implying anything about adoptive parents. I was focusing specifically on the issue of fatherless homes being created through sperm donors, which is what this article was about if you read it carefully. The article did not say anything about any of these children having "social fathers," so it is pretty clear these were moms having kids by choice without a father present.

  3. I think this will become more and more challenging as the "Fatherless America" grows older and older is how to define families. It's unfortunate a) that men aren't stepping up to the plate to do one of the hardest most manly job in the world (fatherhood) and b) that more and more women are deliberately choosing to raise children without a father thus perpetuating the fatherless america.


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