Sunday, June 22, 2014

Fathers provide anything unique?

Mitch Albom appears in the Detroit Free Press both as a sports writer and columnist on social issues. I'm usually in agreement with what he says and I admire him for all the charity work he does around Detroit. But while I think he is well-intentioned in his column in today's paper I think he missed a few important points.

His major point is that dads are being dismissed by the chattering classes. Women do just fine, it is claimed. Men aren't needed anymore. Yeah, some of that reaction is based on men who impregnate and disappear. But not all of that. I agree that heterosexual dads are too readily dismissed.

But his column brings up studies that lesbian couples do just fine in raising kids. And somehow that is an excuse that fathers aren't needed. Well, no. Those studies show that two parents are needed and gender doesn't matter. So a father and a mother is better than a single parent. But so are a lesbian couple and a gay couple.

The other problem with his column is that he gets tangled in things only a mother can provide and only a father can provide. But of all the things he lists – nurturing, quiet strength, discipline, responsibility, and unconditional love – some men can do these quite well and some women can do equally well.

Here's the central complaint: The New York Times asked readers, and Albom responds:
“Do fathers bring anything unique to the table?”

But if they don’t, why does nearly every statistic on kids turn sour when fathers disappear?
Because when fathers disappear they leave behind a single parent. It's not that fathers provide something mothers can't. It's that two parents are much more successful than single parents.

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