Where’s the Dad?

Child PovertyI’m taking life a little easier this summer, so I’m rerunning some columns I wrote a few years ago. Happy July 4 to all my American friends!

As I write this, two teenage girls are on trial in Toronto for murdering their mother.

Entered into evidence was a taped conversation in which the older girl explained that murder was really the only option since her mother wasn’t a mother anymore. So, with the knowledge of her younger sister, she allegedly drowned her in the bathtub to free them and their brother from the nightmare.

To kill one’s mother is obviously wrong; and yet, as I read the account, I felt little sympathy for the woman. By all accounts she was a hopeless drunk, and her daughter got one thing right: she wasn’t a mother anymore. Yet as I thought about this sad scenario, one question kept haunting me:

Where’s the dad?

Immaculate conceptions aren’t common, so there’s a man—or men—somewhere who is responsible for these kids’ creation. Would their lives have turned out differently if he had stayed on the scene?

Obviously we know nothing about this particular family, but all too frequently dads are out of the picture long before any labour pains. They spend an evening, if that, as part of a woman’s life, and they’re gone.

While this may not have much of an impact on these men’s lives, it certainly has an impact on the children’s. For years governments have been vowing to end child poverty, but it’s doubtful they can make real headway until we change our behaviour. Over 52% of children in single parent homes live in poverty, compared with 11% of children in two-parent families. Child poverty is not an economic issue as much as it is a family issue. When men leave, their kids grow up poor.

And their kids may also grow up with unstable parents, as these kids certainly did. In a home with two parents, if one starts feeding an addiction, becomes abusive, or exhibits a mental disorder, there’s another parent to step in. When there’s only one parent, the kids are held captive to that parent’s whims. But it isn’t just having a dad that makes these kids better off. Dads, you see, bring something else to the equation. With a dad often comes another set of grandparents, along with various aunts and uncles and cousins, and chances are at least a few of these relatives will have their heads on straight.

It seems this family lacked those safety checks, as far too many families do.

I can’t help feeling, in reading stories like this, that our society takes the act that creates these children far too cavalierly. If you’re not willing to commit to look after any children that may come out of a brief relationship, then you should not be having a brief relationship. It’s incredibly selfish to put your own fleeting pleasure above the well-being of children you may bring into a rather desperate, and grim, situation.

Many men, I believe, have lingering doubts as to whether there are little juniors running around out there. To investigate, though, is a big risk that could disrupt their lives and their bank accounts. However, don’t we owe something to honour, loyalty, and duty? Why not pick up the phone? You don’t have to become a super dad if you don’t want to, but at least make sure the kids are okay, and that they have enough money to get by. Some women, of course, may resent the intrusion or fear your motives, but your kids still deserve to know they are valued. Their lives may have started off by accident, but they don’t need to be defined that way.

If we treat kids, and the act that creates them, with the care and respect they deserve, we’ll all be better off.

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  1. Its a sad but true story in many families around the world. Children being conceived by a one night stand or in a unstable family and end up being raised by a single parent, could be my the mom or the dad. I still think the family unit is very important even in today’s age. The husband, wife and children is all part of it and each complete each other. If one person is out, its a incomplete circle. My wife’s sister raised her kids by herself after years of marriage cause the man was a drunk, drug addict and a womanizer. I think when you are put in such a situation you do what you can to cope because of the stress that is being handed to you. A marriage if you can keep it is nothing to throw away and most of the time people just don’t have the patience to work out their differences and instead of trying they end it. Just my 2 cents.

  2. It’s ironic in our Western culture that when two evil females kill another female, in this case their mother, we seem almost conditioned to look for the nearest male in the narrative to allocate blame. I used to do the same. By God’s grace I think far more objectively now.

    The story is reminiscent of the 2003 murder of Ontario woman Linda Anderson, by her daughters aptly dubbed ‘the bathtub girls’. The girls landed on their feet quite well though, and only served a fraction of a fraction of their sentences; both girls are in university right now, one of them having actually been granted a scholarship to Waterloo. Some details of the murder are perhaps telling. Mum suffered depression and had two jobs. She relied on alcohol. The girls were irritated by this, because their friends had more money with which to buy clothes and swimming pools. They colluded with their friends to kill mum and use the insurance money for a joint trip to Europe and to fill the back yard with illegal psychoactive plants.

    They drugged their mother and drowned her for 4 minutes in a bathtub. One friend had left an encouraging online post before the murder ‘well good luck – wear gloves.’ After the death, they all went to a nearby restaurant to celebrate, then went home to report the death. A year later the girls were arrested after one of them confessed to a man at a party. She was intoxicated; The apple falling not far there.

    Where is dad? As far away as humanly possible I would hope. On a serious note, we know the statistics about fatherless homes, and here is exactly where the paradox comes in. The facts about society are directly correlated with the very laws society has made. In other words, we are getting rid of dad because that is precisely what the law is deigned to do. Consider two sets of facts:

    A home with no dad (not mum oddly) blows up these demographics: incarceration, suicide, behavioural disorders, delinquency, school dropout rates, educational achievement, juvenile detention, teen pregnancies, gender confusion, and so on and on and ever on. These are facts.

    These are laws: mandatory arrest policies, rape shield laws, child custody laws, paternity fraud laws, domestic violence laws, restraining order abuse, and a long list of others. And these are only laws pertaining to marriage. Not gender.

    Is there a connection here? Perhaps a rhetorical question. Constrain a person with handcuffs, a straight jacket and leg chains, set the house on fire, then blame them when they run out. This is not a sensible or loving or even sane attitude to have.

    In a world that’s made dad an Al Bundy or Homer Simpson, afraid to sit his child on his knee in public, afraid to call the police when he has been assaulted, frightened to death of the prospect of prison rape at the whim of an alimony litigation, scared of losing his kids in any court in the land, the dad in this case is probably where it’s safest to be. Nowhere.

    • Rex,
      You are right on. Where is Dad? Well we’ve told him that at best we only need his money and not him. From conception to birth to adulthood, consider these things:

      1. He has not say on whether a child can even be born. It is a mother’s right to abort his child whenever she feels like it.

      2. Child custody overwhelmingly goes to the mother, despite every evidence to the contrary that single mothers statistically raised troubled children (but not single fathers).

      3. Divorces are done at a whim, the majority initiated by women (70%), with the children rewarded to her.

      4. In a world of working parents, where both parents work- men pay 95% of alimony and I cannot remember the amount of child support, but it was nearly as high. We reward women for being unfaithful, but punish men for it- faithful or not.

      5. Most women enter marriage with a sexual partner count far higher than then the average man. To average woman has access to sex much easier than the average man. There are many times a man does not know he’s a father because she does not even know who the father is. This placed the blame of fornication strictly on men’s shoulders but women, quite literally, are the gatekeepers to sex.

      This article shows the bias. Women have literally driven men out of marriage and fatherhood at worst, and at best have a constant gun towards our head with the use of laws and wonder where all the dads are at. Laws that women have voted for and lobbied for.

      Are there dead beat dads in the world, you bet. However…

      I find it very telling that in an article where the author tells us there could be men (plural) in the picture, she still blames the man for not being around. No evidence to why the man is not there. Even indicates there could be multiple men- but the least common denominator is still men somehow & not the woman. Mind blowing. Women want equality in everything, except blame and responsibility. Which in the end means they don’t want equality at all because anyone who knows anything about responsibility knows that you then catch the blame when things go wrong. We’ve handed the keys to marriage and sex to women, backed by laws that overwhelmingly back them and somehow men are still getting the blame.
      thankfulhusband recently posted…The Days are Getting Darker…My Profile

      • It’s very simple–there are children, and there is no dad. It doesn’t matter whether he was pushed out or whether society has told him he isn’t important; he still wasn’t there when his kids needed him.

        I COMPLETELY agree that society needs to change and give dads equal rights when it comes to divorce/child custody, etc. But let’s face it: the vast majority of these cases, when you read them, have to do with a dad who was never in the picture at all.

        You can blame welfare laws. You can blame custody laws. You can blame anyone you want. But there is still a guy out there who is not living up to his responsibility.

        Did mom live up to her responsibility? Nope. Sure doesn’t look like it in this case, either. But that’s all the more reason for dad to be a REAL man and take responsibility for the kids he created.

        Yes, society is a mess, but society will always be a mess. And it is time for individuals to start doing the right thing, even if it bucks the trend. When a man stands before God and explains why he wasn’t there for his kids, welfare laws and custody laws and all of that aren’t going to mean a thing. He has a responsibility and he didn’t live up to it. And that’s wrong, no matter how you look at it.

        By the way, I believe that the mom will have a lot of explaining to do before God, too. But regardless–the dad still didn’t do what he should have done. And I am sick of people blaming everybody else but the two individuals who should have been there: the mom and the dad. It is not society’s fault if you have sex with someone and then never think of them again. It is not society’s fault if you create a child and then decide it doesn’t matter. That is your fault. And real men take responsibility.

        • What you don’t understand Sheila is that we are not allowed to take responsibility. Responsibility happens when one has authority. We have no such authority & in many cases men are physically forced from their children’s lives.

          This is the charge I have against your teaching in so many regards, if you want men to be responsible then you have to give them authority. And that is something that you are powerfully against. You can’t have it both ways Sheila. If you want men to “man up” then you’ve got to let them be men and not hamstring them with everything from the current laws outside of the church to the practices of feminism inside the church.
          thankfulhusband recently posted…The Days are Getting Darker…My Profile

          • Okay, that’s really harsh. In what way a *I* not giving men responsibility and authority?

            I am not a feminist. I do believe that abuse is real and that women need to be able to get out of abusive relationships (although, as I said, often people label things abusive that aren’t actually abusive). And I believe that porn is corrosive and should not be tolerated.

            But how am *I* telling men they can’t have custody? How am *I* telling some guy it’s okay to impregnate a drunk woman and then leave her alone with the kids?

            I understand society is messed up, but it will never get better if people give cover to those who are not standing up and taking responsibility. And a simple way to take responsiblity is to not get someone pregnant in the first place.

          • Alchemist says:

            Ok. Why did you manosphere dudes come out of the woodwork and come pick on Sheila? Like 90% of this blog is dedicated to admonishing women to be good and faithful wives and mothers. This includes a number of posts on honouring men and boys. So, stop being defensive.

            Seriously guys. This is SUPER simple. If you don’t think the women would be a good mom for your kids. DON’T HAVE SEX WITH HER. Or at least use a condom.

            Obviously this is the same for women. If you don’t want this man to be the father of your children, don’t sleep with him. Super simple.

            The state, society ect. has nothing to do with this. The fact remains if you contributed to the making of a human being, you are responsible for rearing it. And the rearing bit goes much better with 2 parents in the picture. So don’t sleep around, pick your life partner carefully and then work to make your marriage last.

          • Yeppers!

      • I have to say that I agree with both Rex and thankfulhusband.
        Mrs. Right recently posted…Episode 1 – Introduction to The Gracewater ProjectMy Profile

  3. The reality seems to be that no facts I’ve referenced above have even been acknowledged, let alone considered. I admit sincerely, I’m astounded. In fact this is my point above, reiterated by a Christian sister. Dad wasn’t there. But surely to conclude with blaming dad, be he alive or be he dead, or conscripted or jailed or forced out by violence, is logically incoherent?

    I’m reminded of something Paul Vitz, a psychologist in the Christian field once said referring to Friedrich Nietzsche’s father. His advice was whatever you do as a dad, don’t die. When we say you can blame this, or that or another thing, but there is still some ‘guy out there who hasn’t lived up to his responsibility’, we are ignoring what actually is in fact the case, and picking our battles. I’m afraid it really does matter if dad was pushed out of the family by the state, by criminal laws, or death, or non molestation orders, or any other such thing. And I’m confident, according to the Bible, that God would feel the same way.

    Perhaps your way of reasoning is like this. After the youth riots in Britain a couple of years ago, there was a media outcry against the parents. They blamed the parents. Yet what fails to be looked at is an ideology that set in place laws against parents for decades, taking away all their authority and essentially giving it to the state. It’s absurd to set up and force all the conditions for failure on someone else and then blame them when everything goes south. Unfortunately you seem to think this way.

    I don’t know what a ‘REAL man’ is. Perhaps there is an unreal man. Is there a REAL woman? Perhaps these are Winfreyisms…I do agree that we will all stand before God, and give an account; however I do find it tiring, again, that when two girls kill another girl, the topic must necessarily be about a man, somewhere, somehow.

    • Rex, every single serial killer that I have EVER read about either had divorced parents or no dad in the picture at all. Most child sexual abuse victims do not have a dad in the picture. You are 25 times more likely to be abused if you do not live with your biological father.

      Yes, there is something seriously wrong with not having a biological dad in the picture. And whether or not the state makes it difficult to be a dad, it does not absolve responsiblity. If the state makes it that hard to be a dad, then there’s an easy solution: don’t have one night stands, and use a condom (not that that is 100% effective, but it’s close).

      I seem to recall Jesus saying something about a narrow road and a wide road. The narrow road is harder. Everything is going against you. But Jesus says we are to take it anyway.

      The mom in this case was ridiculous too, as I said. But here’s the thing: if there had been another parent in the picture, then likely someone could have protected those kids from her. But there wasn’t another parent. And that is always a tragedy. And even if the state made it harder to be a dad, it is still, and always will be, your responsibility. Any man who does not take responsiblity (unless he is specifically legally barred from doing so) has no moral excuse. Ever.

  4. [Editor’s Note: At this point I am not even reading long comments anymore. I am on my phone on vacation, and I don’t need the stress of arguing back and forth when I’ve already said everything I need to say, and other people have said everything they need to say. Everyone’s had their say; let’s go and enjoy a vacation, okay?]
    thankfulhusband recently posted…What Do You Want the Bible to Say?…My Profile

  5. Melinda says:

    This article seems horribly skewed. Of the people I know in real life, I can name more men who WANT to raise their children, who have never abused and would generally be considered good dads (as good of measure as we can use as we are ALL sinful creatures) than single women raising children of dead-beat or abusive men. I had a friend whose husband desperately wanted to raise his daughter and the judge said he would NEVER give custody to a father, no matter how ‘good’ (again, in man’s terms because we all know we are wretched sinners in God’s measure) the man was.

    Society wants to blame the men, but there are plenty of good men out there who want to be fathers and not just sperm donors, but there are many women out there who flat out refuse to allow those men into their child’s lives. Oh, but they may be willing to take the child support check. You cannot blame it all one men. And sorry ladies, but you can keep your legs closed until you have a wedding ring on your finger. It takes two to tango, can’t just blame the men on that one…Add no fault divorce to the situation and we have a heap of trouble. Men are NOT the only problem in this situation.

    And no, I’m not a ‘manoshpere’ member. I’m just a sinner, like everyone else, who believes it’s time we start opening our Bibles and actually living what it says.

  6. Society has vilified, ridiculed and sissified men into what Al Bundy and Homer Simpson is portrayed as.

    It’s true that some men are bums and so are some women but that’s life. Most men does want to be by their wife’s side and raise the children together. I think men needs to be able to be men even if we drag our knuckles when we walk. I could not see my life without my wife, ofcourse we have our disagreements but when we are done I appologize lol and she too ofcourse. Like somone said, put sex on the shelf until you are married it’s not something you measure your relationship by.

  7. Yes it takes two to tango. Two, as in, a woman to “keep her legs closed,” and a man to keep it in his pants if he doesn’t know what kind of mother she’ll be. Too many men place all responsibility of birth control on a woman, and then claim she “tricked” him. That’s not taking responsibility at all.
    Sheila tells PLENTY about responsibilities of women. At least 90% of her blog is what women should be doing. Men are all happy to hear about how women should pursue an active sex life with their husbands, but not about how men should take care of their kids.
    For every woman that has abandoned her kids that I know, I know of at least 5 men who abandoned his kids. I’ll list them if you like me to.

  8. I, too, found this particular post ridiculously one-sided, with no consideration that perhaps the father was NOT allowed to be involved in his children’s lives. My husband is a perfect example of this. He was married previously, and they had six children together. He loved and wanted his children, but she wanted “me time”, and even tried to convince him to adopt away their own children! Instead of her just walking away so she could have what she wanted, she chose to lie about him and steal his children away from him. Sure she wants money from him, but she won’t allow contact, and even returns birthday gifts from the grandparents!
    I say child support is almost always wrong. If you want to have the children, then you pay for them. This means if you have full custody then you have full responsibility for them; if you share custody then you take care of the needs when they are with you. If you want your children but aren’t allowed to have them (for whatever reason) then you shouldn’t be forced to pay for them. Now I know someone will say, “what about the ones who leave? who don’t want their children?” Well, yes they *should* still be responsible, but I think the government really needs to stay out of families. Let God deal with people, we’ll all be accountable to Him someday.
    Just because children are without a father doesn’t mean they were the result of a one-night stand, or even a longer unmarried relationship. There are too many children who are fatherless because the system favors the woman who wants to leave the marriage. Not always the case, but often enough that it should have been mentioned.

  9. Proud of my Husband says:

    I find it disturbing that some are defending absent “father-hood”. Why? Why would you defend the absent father? Person guilt? Are you then also rallying around the absent father in his struggle and fighting with him to change laws so he can be there. If not, then you waste your time and energy, your thoughts don’t matter and you’re not making a difference. Making excuses no matter the validity helps no one. Stop talking and go out and start making a difference.

    • “I find it disturbing that some are defending absent “father-hood”.”
      I’m not defending it, I’m explaining it, how it really is in many situations. Too often men are pushed out of the family. And yes, too often men walk away. It’s a problem either way.
      Changing laws sounds nice, but it isn’t practical. There are too many “laws” (actually statutes, which are not the same thing) already. What we need is fewer laws, no more no-fault divorce, no more women getting the children automatically 90+% of the time, no interference by gov’t into families, and more Biblical morals/attitude. Single parenthood is no longer a stigma, something to be ashamed about, but is celebrated. More laws won’t change the heart, and that’s the ultimate problem.
      And when it comes to heart/soul problems it’s pretty equal for both men and women.
      Mrs. Right recently posted…Episode 1 – Introduction to The Gracewater ProjectMy Profile

      • I think Mrs Right you have hit the nail on the head here. There seems to be a difference in the way Christianity views people as opposed to the way political theory views people. Christianity seems to focus on individual people, and the heart, as making up the fabric of society. The Western political system emphasises the majority think, and that is what is important, whereas the goodness or ethics of a single person is irrelevant.

        • ‘I find it disturbing that some are defending absent “father-hood”’.

          It is disturbing to me (see above) that some are ignoring matricide, or marginalising it.

  10. I have one memory of my Dad as a child. One. Even though my parents were married (they only divorced after I married) my Dad was an absentee parent in every sense of the word. I wish he had been more involved, because I think it would have balanced out my mother’s neurosis and I would have come out the better for it. Instead, all I have are memories of my mother’s controlling behavior towards me and I had no male role model to teach me anything about the world or life. I am so blessed and encouraged by the fact that my hubby is very involved in Baby Girl’s life. I hope and pray it will always continue.
    The Baby Mama recently posted…GhandiMy Profile

  11. Just Me says:

    Where is the Dad? Where are all the Dads? The horrible thing about this article is that it seems to imply men are choosing not to be there. If you believe this you need to get to know more men. My own parents got seperated when I was 12 and I had to live with my mother. My Father was wracked with guilt, which was misplaced because despite living in a different state I still spoke with him more than my mother. Western society needs to stop blaming men for the choices of women or the government. Most of the fathers I have known who do not live with their kids do so because of the courts and not the choice of their selves or their children.

    Yes families need Fathers but in most cases I know of when he is missing it was not his choice.

  12. “Just close your legs until you have the ring”
    –how very Christian of you trolls!
    Jesus himself wouldn’t say that; he’d offer living water or say “go and sin no more.”
    Be glad that women make the choice to keep their children and remember that Mary was unmarried and pregnant.
    I agree with Sheila that a man has full responsibility for his refusal to see his children. My son’s father will not visit and he has a laundry list of excuses. He hates that I have full custody, though it’s in the best interests of the child. He is basically selfish.

  13. And Mrs. Right, is that the song and dance your husband gave you, or did you check out the ex-wife’s side of the story as well?

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