Fatherhood Matters

By Rhodes, Eric Bryant | The American Prospect, March 13, 2000 | Go to article overview

Fatherhood Matters


Rhodes, Eric Bryant, The American Prospect


On the campaign trail, Vice President Al Gore recently gave a speech with the following central claim: "Promoting responsible fatherhood is the critical next phase of welfare reform and one of the most important things we can do to reduce child poverty." Five years ago, the question of how important fathers are to the well-being of their children was scarcely on the public agenda. That's changed. The fact that a leading candidate for the presidency delivered a policy speech on the issue is one indication of how much momentum the fatherhood movement has gained.

Great numbers of American children are growing up apart from their fathers. There is a now a wider acknowledgment that fathers ought to play an important part in their children's lives beyond their role as breadwinners. After decades of debate about whether growing up with a single parent is harmful to a child, the key rallying point of the fatherhood movement is the belief that every child needs the love and support of a responsible father.

Interest in fatherhood issues has been bipartisan and wide-ranging. The emergence of the Promise Keepers, an evangelical Christian men's group that draws thousands of men to its rallies in stadiums and sports arenas, is one expression of the religious right's recent emphasis on encouraging men to be better husbands and fathers. Within the social policy research community, the publication in 1994 of Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur's book Growing up with a Single Parent: What Hurts, What Helps provoked scholars to re-examine the benefit a child receives from having a father present. McLanahan and Sandefur argued persuasively that "growing up with only one biological parent frequently deprives children of important economic, parental, and community resources, and that these deprivations ultimately undermine their chances of future success." Around the same time, David Blankenhorn published Fatherless America: Confronting Our Most Urgent Social Problem. Blankenhorn, president of the Institute for American Values, advanced a conservative critique that blasted American cultural and social institutions for undermining the father's role in the family and weakening the bond between men and their children.

The progressive Families and Work Institute supports the Fatherhood Project, an initiative designed to examine the future of fatherhood and promote greater involvement by fathers in child rearing. On Capitol Hill, Republican Representative Nancy Johnson reintroduced the Fathers Count bill to the House with the purpose of allowing states to use funds from their welfare block grants to support community-based "responsible fatherhood" initiatives. The bill passed in the House in November and was awaiting Senate consideration early this year.

Differing perspectives on the fatherhood issue have led to uneasy alliances as well as heated debate. The collected volumes The Fatherhood Movement: A Call to Action and Lost Fathers: The Politics of Fatherlessness in America illustrate some points of agreement as well as tensions within the movement. Conservative writers--such as Blankenhorn, David Popenoe, Maggie Gallagher, and Barbara Dafoe Whitehead--tend to criticize changes in mores and attitudes toward divorce, premarital sex, and out-of-wedlock childbearing as being responsible for family breakdown. They encourage marriage as the best way to promote responsible fatherhood. The notion that the cultural upheaval of the 1960s has enabled adults to indulge in a selfish pursuit of individual happiness that often comes at the expense of children is a familiar refrain of the conservative critique. According to Popenoe, "Large segments of the population have come to regard pure `self-fulfillment' as their dominant life goal, pushing aside such traditional `Victorian' values as self-sacrifice, commitment to others, and institutional obligation." The "family values" position is succinctly articulated by Senator Dan Coats, who states in an essay in The Fatherhood Movement, "Government policy should communicate a clear, public preference for marriage and family on matters such as public housing, the tax code, family planning, and divorce law. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Fatherhood Matters
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.