Washington Times Outlook for Dads is Bleak

Washington Times reports that fathers are disappearing across America

Washington Times reported on Christmas that fathers are disappearing from households across America. Reporter Luke Rosiak interviewed a single mom from the impoverished Southeast Washington area and an ex-felon father whose domestic role was unclear to help illustrate interpretations of the 2010 US Census. (Stats dealing with income are from the 2011 American Community Survey.)

In every state, the portion of families where children have two parents, rather than one, has dropped significantly over the past decade. Even as the country added 160,000 families with children, the number of two-parent households decreased by 1.2 million. Fifteen million U.S. children, or 1 in 3, live without a father, and nearly 5 million live without a mother. In 1960, just 11 percent of American children lived in homes without fathers.

America is awash in poverty, crime, drugs and other problems, but more than perhaps anything else, it all comes down to this, said Vincent DiCaro, vice president of the National Fatherhood Initiative: Deal with absent fathers, and the rest follows.

Citing only three sources to address a purported national trend was not the main reason it blew up on social media and by liberal-hating, progressive-denouncing, welfare-state-blaming commentors. The interpretation of the data included racial divides “In all but 11 states, most black children do not live with both parents. In every state, 7 in 10 white children do.”; racially geographic divides “The largest geographic area of sustained fatherlessness contains the rural, largely black poor…”; and the poor, who, according to DiCaro, can have little purpose: “When you have very little going for you in your life, having children can give purpose to it.”

The focus on absent poor fathers prompted Rosiak and the Times to follow up two days later with “Missing dads is a problem not only in poor homes”, which opens with the following:

The inner cities, where only 1 in 10 black children live with both parents, and the wealthy suburbs, where many fathers spend more than 60 hours a week on the job, have more in common than meets the eye, family advocates and faith leaders said.

They made the comments Thursday after The Washington Times published an analysis this week of U.S. census data that provoked concern for children from widely disparate camps.

The follow-up cites many more sources and is much more balanced. The Times added an insightful map “the best and worst of fatherhood, by the neighborhood” of regions and areas with the greatest levels of single families and absent-father homes.
It still leaves me scratching my head. Earlier in 2012, we cited the NSCW (National Study of the Changing Workforce) for finding “Fathers are spending more time with their children than three decades ago.” Perhaps this was only in married families. This trend—of involved fathers—is corroborated regularly on this site. My limited perspective is not enough to refute the Times data. And data matters. It ostensibly helps policy makers enact legislation and arouses the media to cite trends as definitive, but the reasons for these trends are much harder to pinpoint.
I’m interested in your take. The anecdotal can counterbalance misinterpretations and gross generalizations, and these are equally valid if not more insightful. From what I’ve seen, read, and experienced, fathers are more involved than ever before, even if they’re single or non-custodial fathers. Are you disappearing from the American household?
—Photo by maveric2003/Flickr

NOW TRENDING ON GMP TV

Super Villain or Not, Parenting Paranoia Ensues
The Garbage Man Explains Happiness
How To Not Suck At Dating

Premium Membership, The Good Men Project

About Robert Duffer

Robert Duffer (www.robertduffer.com) is the editor of the Dads & Families section of The Good Men Project. Winner of the Chicago Public Library's writing contest, his work appears in the Chicago Tribune, MAKE Magazine, Chicago Reader, Curbside Splendor, Time Out Chicago, Chicago Public Radio, Annalemma, New City, and other coffee-table favorites like Canadian Builders Quarterly. He teaches creative writing at Columbia College Chicago and lives in the suburbs with his wife, two kids, and their minivan. Follow @DufferRobert, Google+, facebook.

Comments

  1. To me, it doesn’t matter because how matter how bad it gets NO ONE who has the power to change it will look at the family courts, will look at how fathers are treated in the family court and how shared parenting should already be the law of the land and if groups like NOW had really been about equality it would have been, instead they have fought long and hard against it.

    There was even a lawyer who posted here a couple of months ago who is extremely active in denouncing shared parenting and one of the mods here was entralled by him and just loved having him around. IF the supporters of men like some on the GMP love a man who is active in denouncing fathers, what chance do we really have.

    • Which piece was it, Aspire?
      I would love to broaden the discourse on the issue of shared parenting.

    • I completely agree that the family court system is in desperate need of an overhaul; however, please know that it is not just Dads who are mistreated by corrupt judges. I’ve even come to wonder if perhaps some Dads take extreme measures against mothers out of their fear of losing their children. End game: it’s the children who ultimately suffer and they are the ones we need to focus on. They are the reason Moms and Dads need to stand together to make the necessary changes with the court system. This isn’t about feminist b.s. anymore. No more excuses… We MUST stand together, or the system will remain corrupt – because we will still be, too.

  2. John Anderson says:

    “Fifteen million U.S. children, or 1 in 3, live without a father, and nearly 5 million live without a mother.”

    So about 1 in 9 or maybe 1 in 10 children live without a mother. I don’t know what the data is for 1960s mothers. Maybe it’s the same 10 or 11%, but it could also be the changing nature of families. If 50% of marriages end in divorce, if women are choosing sperm donors, if people are choosing co-parenting over marriage, it doesn’t mean that the involvement of fathers has lessened. It means that the family structure has changed.

    • Great points, John. I’d like to see that addressed in interpretations of the data. What about same-sex parents, what about single-mother families that never intended to be traditional families? I’d love to study the source data and see how much marriage has changed since the 60s. The link above on the NSCW is insightful on the trends of work, parenting, and marriage, and traditional marriage has definitively declined. Late 2010 the Pew Research Center titled results of a study “The Decline of Marriage and Rise of the New Family.” http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2010/11/18/the-decline-of-marriage-and-rise-of-new-families/

  3. Richard Aubrey says:

    Problem with this is that the grossly disproportionate number of single, never-married moms in the black community is off limits to discussion. It would be racist and, besides, all traditionalist and stuff, probably patriarchal, to remark on the issue.
    When my kids were playing HS ball, we went to some games at a school pretty much all black. Two or three were parents’ night there. It was pathetic. The football team had maybe three two-parent families, the basketball team none. The cheerleader squad was down by half at the end of the football season on account of pregnancy.
    But we have to remember what happened to Bill Cosby when he tried to say something. Imagine if he’d been white.
    I suspect this is why the hard-working white father was hauled in. To sort of balance by absurdity.

  4. Sterling Blackheart says:

    I was primary care of my son for 10 years. My ex exaggerated and lied in hopes to gain access to our son. She was hoping to gain joint custody. The parenting evaluator only talked to two of my five references and said they were in cohorts. Needless to say they decided that I was lying and never raised my son. She was awarded full custody. I am required to ask her if I take him to any sporting or performance event. Parenting evaluator also stated that any sports or interests that he shows in what I do needs to be re-evaluated and approved after therapy. The court system took away my rights to be a father. I still get my weekends and do the best I can within the parameters. Considering I have to pay $2700 a month (1500 of that is to keep her in ways of Microsoft widow, where she is already earning 65K)…I know it would be very easy to disappear. Thought about it many times and the only reason I stick around is the hopes that my son will understand the values and integrity he will need have when facing the WA Dissolution process.

  5. @Aubrey: Mr. Aubrey I welcome the opportunity to enlighten you,if that is at all possible. Let’s look at the accumulative impact of war on the ability of African American men to be fathers or just productive citizens.Hell,we know that war has devastating affects on men and their families.This was especially true of Viet Nam.We also that the US is notoriously bad at taking care of it’s vets.African American men were far and away the highest percentage of soldiers on the frontline in Viet Nam.My brother,who was playing baseball for the Giants when he was drafted,was one of those men. He was lucky.He came back home to us,the family he left.And he and his young wife healed.My father was in the Korean conflict and according to my mother suffered from battlefatigue-PTSD- and she had to move-on,which happens frequently to men sick from war. This is just one example of how the many hidden obstacles that many men of color face in trying to be whole enough to be a father. African American fathers face all the pressures white guys face,but race complicates matters, there is less margin for errorand missteps hurt worse.

    • Richard Aubrey says:

      ogwriter. Allow me to enlighten you. Casualties in Vietnam among blacks were to within one tenth of one percent of their proportion in the US population. I was involved with a faith-based social justice group some years later when the figures were figured out whose disappointment at the results was palpable. The “racist war” theme was so valuable they hated to give it up. But it worked for them when it had to.
      The first line units to go to VN were Airborne and Marines, both volunteer units, and were about half black in the rifle battalions. Black casualties were higher than their national proportion for a while, until larger ground forces were deployed. But in the end, it was even.
      The war ended, in terms of even small US units, in the early Seventies.
      The two men you mention were married. What I was referring to was men impregnating women, or girls, they have no intention of marrying or supporting.
      My family includes a lot of soldiers. Apparently the name came to Canada with Wolfe’s army. I know we missed Korea, and I told my son that, with my dead brother (USAF), we’ll skip this one. I was a grunt like my father. It’s not just a black thing. I knew WW II vets and they carried the scars to their graves, and I’m including the mental ones. It’s not just a black thing.
      And the guys doing the impregnating now were born from, say, 1980 onward, as were the women.
      Shelby Steele said that white liberal guilt did what slavery, Jim Crow, and segregation could not; destroy the black family.
      However you want to spin the reason is one thing. The result is the same, regardless.
      And, as I pointed out, one cannot discuss this subject.
      So, I guess it goes undiscussed.

  6. I read the article published in the Washington Times to get their full story. Not to my surprise I found that the criticism of dad’s was leveled by Glenn T. Stanton, director of family formation studies at Focus on the Family. Focus on the Family is a very conservative Christian based organization which ‘provides relevant Christian advice on marriage, parenting and other topics’ according to it’s website. The Washington Times is a right wing rag started by Unification Church leader Sun Myung Moon and has a very conservative stance. My point is that facts can be mad to say whatever the editorial directive of the publication wants it to. In this case, statements like this: “I think it would be difficult to overstate the significance of a welfare check replacing a marriage,” in the article is an opinion that upholds the paper’s specific conservative agenda and not a fact. It’s unfortunate that heft is given to blatantly slanted articles like this one but I guess sensationalism sells.

    • Unfortunately, Mike, your comment makes the most sense out of an article that seemed biased from the start, especially with the original limited sources cast in an unflattering light.

    • Richard Aubrey says:

      Mike. Does the fact that the Washington Times did the story discredit the stat that about 70% of births in the black community–only slightly less in the hispanic community–are out of wedlock and the kids raised without a father? I mean, that’s either true or it isn’t, and the fact that a conservative rag printed it doesn’t change the truth of it. Does it?
      Does the source of the artticle ameliorate the results of growing up without a father?
      Social pathologies track pretty much from one ethnic group to another, across all SES, with fatherlessness.
      The contradiction between fathers spending more time these days and the fatherlessness question is probably because a sperm donor who goes on his merry way isn’t counted as a “father” for purposes of the distinction.

      • I never implied that the stat wasn’t accurate, my problem was with the spin. Fatherlessness is an epidemic that kids are suffering from and by extension we all suffer with. Past that is the bad press that all men seem to be getting. The Atlantic has run front page articles asking ‘Where are the Men?’, ‘Why Me Marry?’ and ‘Are Father’s Necessary?’ I have seen absolutely no front page articles with any rebuttals by men. Why is that? Do we have nothing to say about ourselves that might shore us up and give us hope? I haven’t seen it and I’m thinking about being the man that writes that article.

      • John Anderson says:

        @ Richard Aubrey

        “did the story discredit the stat that about 70% of births in the black community–only slightly less in the hispanic community–are out of wedlock and the kids raised without a father?”

        Just because a birth is out of wedlock doesn’t mean that a child is raised without a father. Just because a child was born in a marriage doesn’t mean they have an involved father and just because they don’t have an involved father, doesn’t mean that it’s the father’s fault. Marriages can end in divorce and vindictive women can falsely accuse men of child abuse or otherwise interfere with visitation.

        • Richard Aubrey says:

          John.
          All the “just because” you mention is true. Are true. The result is huge numbers of kids growing up without a father. We need more just-becauses. Way too short on those puppies.

  7. This is an interesting story… if true. Has it been reported by any REAL newspapers with a shred of credibility?

    • Richard Aubrey says:

      Copy.
      Suppose it were reported by real newspapers. What would change in your view?
      Right. Thought so.
      And, yes, the numbers of fatherless kids is pretty well known, sometimes even from real newspapers.
      Right. Thought so.

      • Yes, it would. The disappearance of fathers is an actual problem, and I’d like to know how widespread it is, from a reputable news source.

        You see, I try to evaluate issues based on facts, something the Washington Times has repeatedly demonstrated it cannot (or will not) provide. You may assume everyone’s as much of a fact-ignoring ideologue as you are, but that doesn’t make it true.

        • Richard Aubrey says:

          Copy.
          The problem with the Times article is it’s old news. I guess their investigative reporting was all about looking at old news.
          The stats are old news, except they’re probably getting worse.
          Old news, copy. Pointing to the “rag” doesn’t help. Everybody knows this stuff and has for years.

  8. wellokaythen says:

    Thank God someone finally used that _American Gothic_ painting correctly. It’s a painting of a man and his DAUGHTER, not a man and his wife. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen people assume that she’s his wife.

  9. At the GMP we’ve read article after article and comment after comment that address fatherless kids and the affects that it’s had on kids. C’mon, is there any doubt that too many kids don’t have dads? Is there any doubt that fatherlessness has had a negative affect on kids? It’s funny how some people will attempt to discredit information because it comes from a conservative Christian group yet totally ignores the fact that the liberal media does the same thing? I don’t need Focus on the Family to tell me that which I already know and see.

    • The problem exists. However, citing a profoundly dishonest and disreputable source does not help establish its existence.

      There are real sources and there are bogus ones… even when the story itself is true. This article starts out on the wrong foot by citing a notorious house organ of lies and distortions.

  10. Richard Aubrey says:

    Tom B.
    But pointing to a supposedly discreditable source, like faux snooze, means you don’t have to entertain the subject. Handy, when the subject could be uncomfortable.
    Old technique.
    However, to discuss this means noticing a difference in the issue between ethnic groups. Leading to a difference in sub-optimal outcomes between ethnic groups which can’t be blamed on racism or capitalism or something.
    To question never questioning any kind of sex, presuming both partners are consenting, or at least putting up with it.
    To actually value traditional males as useful.
    Man, this is giving me the shivers. faux snooze. Yeah, that’s the ticket, faux snooze. Moonies. Right-wing rag.
    I feel better now.

  11. We ran this piece on possible reasons for the disappearing dad in September 2012; http://goodmenproject.com/families/the-crisis-of-the-disappearing-dad-the-hidden-reasons-men-leave-their-families/

    • LoL. Men ‘leave’ their families.

      That’s a very interesting interpretation of what’s happening in the real world…

  12. @Aubrey:I am not saying it’s a black thing,though honestly i am not sure what you mean by that.However,your focus seems to suggest that you think fatherlessness is a determinate in whether children in black homes will be raised properly.Single parenthood doesn’t guarantee that children will be raised any better or worse than a two parent home.I work work the kids you are talking about and whether they make it is determined mostly by how that child is raised. I am a single father and my children are doing quite well. Secondarily,African American men have only legally been able to be fathers in America since the end of slavery,so there is no comparative historical infrastructure to rely on.Fatherhood for blackmen in America has survived with far more stressors and fewer resources to deal with than most and is far more fragile and unable to rebound from upsets like war and others issues, like the bs War on Drugs. Your stats don’t show that.You act as if race has had or should have had no negative affects on black life. I, as one African American, don’t want anything from you other than respect for what African Americans have contributed,under extraordinary circumstances,to a country that from its beginnings has believed that slavery and freedom are not incompatible.How exactly does that work? And for a man of your intelligence to think that 130 plus years of freedom and only 47 years of having basic rights for blacks will result in equality in reality, is stunning.If you want to blame somebody than blame that coward and hypocrite Thomas Jefferson,who by the way had an entire family out of wedlock.You can add all of Founders to that list of idiots who set this entire dynamic up that led to the most bloody, horrific war with more casaulties than all other wars combined, America has ever seen.AND how many of these so called God fearing,freedom loving men did the same thing: raped black women, fathering children they then hated and ignored? But we can’t talk about that can we.

  13. @Aubrey:I am not saying it’s a black thing,though honestly i am not sure what you mean by that.However,your focus seems to suggest that you think fatherlessness is a determinate in whether children in black homes will be raised properly.Single parenthood doesn’t guarantee that children will be raised any better or worse than a two parent home.I work work the kids you are talking about and whether they make it is determined mostly by how that child is raised. I am a single father and my children are doing quite well. Secondarily,African American men have only legally been able to be fathers in America since the end of slavery,so there is no comparative historical infrastructure to rely on.Fatherhood for blackmen in America has survived with far more stressors and fewer resources to deal with than most and is far more fragile and unable to rebound from upsets like war and others issues, like the bs War on Drugs. Your stats don’t show that.You act as if race has had or should have had no negative affects on black life. I, as one African American, don’t want anything from you other than respect for what African Americans have contributed,under extraordinary circumstances,to a country that from its beginnings has believed that slavery and freedom are not incompatible.How exactly does that work? And for a man of your intelligence to think that 130 plus years of freedom and only 47 years of having basic rights for blacks will result in equality in reality, is stunning.If you want to blame somebody than blame that coward and hypocrite Thomas Jefferson,who by the way had an entire family out of wedlock.You can add all of Founders to that list of idiots who set this entire dynamic up that led to the most bloody, horrific war with more casaulties than all other wars combined, America has ever seen.AND how many of these so called God fearing,freedom loving men did the same thing: raped black women, fathering children they then hated and ignored? But we can’t talk about that can we. Lastly,when first seperated from my children’s mother I had fight tooth and nail to be in their lives,to be the father that society said I should be.

  14. Richard Aubrey says:

    og.
    Couple of things:
    First, fatherlessness statistically involves more sub-optimal outcomes, crime, drugs, sexual promiscuity, than an intact family. It is true across all SES and races and other divisions of the population. Thus, any group with a high percentage of fatherless kids is going to have a high rate of sub-optimal results.
    In “black thing”, I was referring to your description of the Vietham war and the incorrect implication that blacks suffered disproportionate casualties. Since they didn’t, the war didn’t make a difference between them and whites. Has to be something else.
    The litany of slavery and suchlike is one thing. But however it happened, it happened. And we have the results we see today. But see Shelby Steele who said it was white liberal guilt, not slavery, Jim Crow, or segregation that destroyed the black family.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] En komplicerad fråga diskuteras nyanserat. [...]

  2. [...] of the narrowest pieces on the state of fatherhood was The Washington Times on the rise of absent fathers, ostensibly based on the 2010 US Census. It ran a follow-up to clarify the trend wasn’t [...]

Speak Your Mind

*