By Jeffery M. Leving
(Originally published 6/15/03 by ChicagoSuburbanNews.com Herald News)
Father’s Day should focus on positive father involvement, not neckties and pajamas.
Many disenfranchised fathers realize that they are a crucial part of their children’s lives but are locked out. Although courts can be stacked against dads and their children, it is important for dads to know that they shouldn’t give up. There are strategies to seek out protection for a father’s relationship with his children.
The current plight of Fatherhood in America is in crisis. Legislative and legal strategies for improving the plight of fatherless children who have been scarred by the effect of divorce and parental separation is necessary. There is no question that the intense suffering and toxic trauma inflicted on fathers and children by gender bias is serious, widespread and shameful.
For an evaluation of the cumulative, long-term consequences of father absence, however, we must step away from the chaos for a moment. By broadening our perspective, we can see how our court system’s decisions affect our children, society and nation’s future.
Social scientists have linked fatherlessness to a wide range of social nightmares and
developmental deficiencies. Among these problems, judging by the results of numerous studies, are substantial increases in juvenile crime, drug and alcohol abuse, teenage pregnancy, promiscuity, truancy, and vandalism. Strong connections have also been established between a father’s absence and a child’s likelihood of becoming a dropout, jobless, a suicide victim, or a target of sexual abuse.
According to the Fatherhood Educational Institute (www.fatherhood-edu.org), the absence of a biological father increases by 900 percent a daughter’s vulnerability to rape and sexual abuse. FBI statistics indicate that a missing father is a more reliable predictor of criminal activity than race, environment or poverty. Psychologists have also documented the developmental difficulties endured by fatherless children. Low self-esteem, poor school performance, hyperactivity, lack of discipline, rejection of authority, depression, withdrawal and several degrees of paranoia were among the disorders identified. As a group, these emotional and behavioral symptoms from what one researcher calls “the adolescent reactive adjustment syndrome.” For years after childhood, hundreds of thousands of the fatherless children continue to encounter educational, career, and relationship failures far more often than their peers from intact families.
The bottom line is, fathers are vanishing from the social landscape and it’s having
dramatic and extremely serious effects on us all. However, responsible father
involvement can be implemented and should be in all cases, all the time, by creating a Judicial Task Force on Father Absence that would educate all judges on the effects of fatherlessness on children, families and society. Without the data, judges can make decisions that could effect the lives of children by expelling father involvement without knowledge of the effects of father absence on children.
My life long work has been dedicated to defending the rights of fathers and their children.
Their justice is my passion and legacy. As a voice of fathers’ rights everywhere, I believe that every day should be Father’s Day.