July 05, 2023 – Fathers Don’t Matter (Myths & Lies About Dads)
Gene C. Colman Introduction: We continue to reproduce some excerpts from Prof. Linda Nielsen’s latest book, “Myths and Lies About Dads”. It’s those myths, stereotypes and outright lies about dads that tend to form powerful blockages against legislating a rebuttable presumption of Equal Shared Parenting. And while Prof. Nielsen not only shatters those myths, she expertly amasses a wealth of solid social science data that supports the key importance of both parents in their children’s lives. Throughout, the bolding and italics are mine.
From page 26:
The single most powerful myth about dads can be reduced to three words: Fathers don’t matter. If you think you’ve never been subjected to that idea, it might be because the message was packaged in softer terms. Maybe the message was easier for you to digest because it didn’t sound so harsh and so absurd. So how is the message usually packaged?
Sweet versions of “dads don’t matter” play on the theme “dad is just mom’s sidekick.” Dad is mom’s helpmate, her intern in training, her temporary fill-in. Dad means well, but without mom there to hold his hand, he is somewhat of a doofus and clueless blockhead. A stronger version of this message is that dads do matter, but —and here’s the punchline—largely for their money. Indeed, we often compliment those dads who are good “providers”—which, more crassly, means “money machines.” On the flip side, if a father doesn’t measure up financially, he’s a failure or an embarrassment as a parent, and maybe even as a husband, regardless of the loving and supportive role he might play in the lives of his children.
The other variation on “dads don’t matter” is more brutal: children don’t need a dad. Kids can get along just fine without him as long as mom is a good parent. Presumably then, children being raised by single mothers are not missing out on anything. And single women who choose to raise a child on their own, say for example, through sperm donation or adoption, are not depriving the child of anything. Contrast this with our attitudes towards single men who choose to raise children on their own. Indeed, some tee shirts, jokes, and greeting cards mock fathers for being nothing more than sperm donors. Imagine mocking or joking about mothers being nothing more than incubators. Even our Mother’s Day and Father’s Day traditions tap into the notion that dads don’t matter much, certainly not compared to mothers …
Presumably in the parenting “waters,” dad is nothing more than a guppy. Mom is the whale. But, as we will see in this chapter, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Stay tuned to upcoming ESP Thoughts of the Day for more insightful excerpts from Prof. Nielsen’s book.
Gene C. Colman comments further
Just think to yourself how dads are frequently portrayed in movies, in commercials, in greeting cards, etc. The negative stereotypes certainly permeate our society. It just isn’t funny. It’s OK and even ‘funny’ (not!) when a dad gets a ball forcefully directly to his you know where. Not acceptable. And certainly it’s not acceptable if we were to laugh about moms getting it in the same spot. By and large (with some beautiful exceptions) we laugh at dads’ expense. We guffaw. We denigrate dads as close to worthless or even worse. Enough is enough!