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Friday, November 9, 2012

Men Don't Mother

"Men don't mother". A statement to which some would respond, "no kidding". But there are a great many of those who claim otherwise, that the "gender" of the parents does not matter, that moms and dads are fungible, and that mothers father the same way that fathers do and vice versa. This belief likely stems from an equalitarian ideology that ignores or overlooks observable, measurable differences in the sexes and views all as undifferentiated units. For some choice motherhood apologists, this belief is also conveniently self-serving--if one thinks there is no practical difference between the sexes in how they parent or what they bring to the family table, then the additional parent (read: fathers) really isn't necessary, except insofar as the additional monies he brings in. Unfortunately, this belief is widely popular and is, for all practical intents and purposes, enshrined in a family court system that finds the Tender Years Doctrine a difficult paradigm to shake off.

Thus I read with some interest that there is one group in this whole discussion who disagrees vehemently with a levelling ideology that concludes Heather's two mommies are functionally the same as Ward and June Cleaver: sole custody dads:
After a long evening discussing their experiences as single dads, Doucet asked a group of sole-custody fathers, "In an ideal world, what resources or supports would you like to see for single fathers?" She expected to hear that they wanted greater social support and societal acceptance, more programs and policies directed at single dads. Instead, after a period of awkward silence, one dad stood and said, "An ideal world would be one with a father and a mother. We'd be lying if we pretended that wasn't true." Nods of agreement followed with expressions of approval from the other dads. Although many had had bitter experiences of separation and divorce, they couldn't help but acknowledge the inherent connectedness of mothering and fathering-and the profound deficit experienced when one or the other is not there.
If there is ever a powerful argument to be made for default father custody following divorce, or at least a rebuttable presumption of shared parenting, this is it. Men, even ones who had experienced the divorce grinder, understand at their core that children need both parents, that their kids need the influence of their mother and their father. The choice mommy lobby doesn't appear to grasp this fact--I leave it to the reader to conclude if this disability is willful or not--despite the avalanche of evidence that choice single parenthood leads to poorer outcomes for children.

Dads are different. Yeah, I know. Duh. The "nurturing"--for lack of a better term--that fathers give to their children is different from the more conventional nurturing that mothers give. Where one is risk averse, the
other encourages risk balancing. Where mothers tend to focus on the boo-boos and the upset feelings, fathers tend to be focused on training and equipping their children to leave the nest, to succeed in a rough-and-tumble world. These complementary perspectives produce full and complete human beings, ready to being the cycle of life anew. It is encouraging to me that fathers, some mothers, and some in the public policy sphere, get this.

17 comments:

Christina said...

Seems like this argument is also rather effective in supporting homosexual parenting.

You know where I stand on this. I've seen how my children respond differently to my husband and I and at their core, they see us for different purposes.

For now, help (the kind where he wants to do it himself but doesn't know how) & play, my son instantly gravitates to dad. For other help (baby me, please), comfort, and food he comes straight to me.

Its not like we defined these - it just is.

-Christina

Elusive Wapiti said...

"Seems like this argument is also rather effective in supporting homosexual parenting."

Yes there is that too. What I find interesting about homosexual couples is how gendered they are...one will inevitably be the butch and the other the femme. It's like we humans fundamentally recognize the complementary nature of our relationships, even if we aren't necessarily aware of it.

Cecil Henry said...

Until the 20th century, in Britain and elsewhere in Europe, the Father was the default custody in divorce or any single parent situation, NOT the mother.

Fatherless children were bastards, and the term had all the negative connotation for a reason: that was and is the social reality of fatherless children.

Its an honest term-people shy away from it because they want to distort reality.


This was for precisely the reasons implied here: Fathers have a broader perspective on the family and are more likely (if given the responsibility and the CONTROL to do it) to be able to provide for and raise their children.

Look at all those mothers: MORE support, more this, more that, from other people to raise MY children-- and no accountability to the father.

Now look at the men- they want nothing but control of their lives and children to do as they see fit, which invariably includes a mother.

Women are very loose with other people's money, which is why they are so quick to think 'government should do it (that just means you and me should pay) - and should not be in charge of government handouts to single mothers.


They think other people owe them-- and government is the means get those resources from others without appearing to do so.

thewomanandthedragon said...

In a way, this reminds me of Solomon's wise ruling in 1 Kings 3 when the two women were fighting over the baby and the king ordered the baby cut in half. The woman who immediately dropped her request was determined to be the mother because she would rather give up her rights than harm her child.

If fathers are willing to admit that a single-parent situation is not beneficial for the child, but mothers want to use their single parent status to garner cash, prizes, and sympathy while denying the negative impact on the child, it is clear who the better parent would be.

-sunshinemary

Elusive Wapiti said...

Cecil,

Just yesterday VD posted an example of how female pols, if permitted to achieve critical mass, would prefer to boost social spending by 43%. Add another 10% if the most strident, activist types were in charge.

It is as you say, easy to do if it's just other peoples' money. No need to consider where it comes from or how it will be produced.

I think the key variable is solipsism, really. The dads know it's not all about them. Mothers in my observation are prone to thinking the opposite, that it *is* all about them. They esteem mothering so highly that "for the children" invariably rolls up Mom into the list of things needed to matriculate a child.

Sad part is that, anecdotally, I've discovered that most "traditional" women think this way too. Granted they may not be as quick to rubbish fatherhood as others, but they still rank motherhood far higher on the list of essentials than fatherhood. As if a child will forever be an infant at the breast, and will never cut the cord to mama.

Elusive Wapiti said...

SunshineMary,

Just re-read 1 Kings 3:26-27, thanks for making my scripture search easy.

What strikes me about so many today is that they would rather harm their children than not get their own way...or in the process of getting their own way.

This was almost me; but I elected not to pursue adoption as a single divorced man because I knew and know that every child needs both a father and a mother. Those that think otherwise are deceiving themselves and harming the child(ren).

Christina said...

Sad part is that, anecdotally, I've discovered that most "traditional" women think this way too. Granted they may not be as quick to rubbish fatherhood as others, but they still rank motherhood far higher on the list of essentials than fatherhood.

Don't forget about sin. It seems to be a problem when discussing these things. No one is going to achieve perfection. "Traditional" women do think this way. But they have it far more together than the ones who will think this way and think all is right with the world.

The catch isn't a woman who thinks like this but one who sees nothing wrong with thinking like this. The difference? One is willing to accept (though she might kick & scream in the process as her pride is deeply stung) that she is a sinful creature with sinful desires. The other refuses to accept the premise of sin from the get go.

Elusive Wapiti said...

"The catch isn't a woman who thinks like this but one who sees nothing wrong with thinking like this."

Or is not even aware she thinks like this. Not being a woman, I can't warrant whether or not the thought even intrudes.

Something else, too. Only the most extreme would think that fathers play no appreciable role. But they are not the set that does the most damage. Rather, those who think that a man's paycheck plus every-other-weekend visitation is enough are the chief agents that maintain/spread this notion.

Worse of all, this terrible conventional wisdom is all but codified in our family law.

wanderling said...

The every second weekend rule has been around since the 80s as far as I know, which suggests it's been there since the implementation of no-fault divorce in the 70s. Which gender is the majority on family court benches and which gender was primarily on the bench in the 70s? Men implemented this precedent which suggests they were acting on their own biases that a couple of days every fortnight was just fine for them, and other men.
52 days a year contribution to parenting....just 26 days longer than your average rabbit.

Elusive Wapiti said...

The "Tender Years Doctrine" has been around much longer than that. And my assay is that it has its roots in Victorianism.

Also, to your implied argument that apex men (note: the sex, not the "gender", thou murderer of the Queen's English) enforced this Doctrine somehow (a) validates the doctrine or (b) that men as a sex are responsible for it, or (c) equalitarianism, in the form of organized feminism representing the interests of women had nothing do with with it, well I respectfully disagree on all points.

Custody of children following a divorce was awarded to men as late as the late 1800s. This despite a Victorian morality that quite clearly pedestalized the feminine and demonized the masculine.

This was also roughly the time that equalitarianism and it's various implementations started hitting its stride in America. Slowly, gradually, the laws changed, to include those same apex men giving women the vote--how's that working out for freedom and liberty, again?--but the cultural bias remained.

Besides, that's history. I'm more concerned about today. Today, divorce is a money-making machine, women as a sex seem content with pro-female bias in family law as in other domains across society, feminist groups fight any proposed deviation from sole mother custody model tooth and nail, and apex men, insofar as they care at all since divorce doesn't touch their sphere very often, are responsive to feminist political influence, the influence of those who profit from the divorce industry, and former President Adams' feared "tyranny of the petticoat".

You know what democracy is. It is two wolves and a sheep voting on what's for dinner. Should anyone be surprised then that 10% (apex men and a few outlier women) would give the 51% what they want at the expense of the remaining 35-40%, with the poor children not having a say in the matter at all?

wanderling said...

I'm not sure why you dislike equalitarianism, when you should actually love it, considering it will deliver what you desire.
I'm sure men were very happy back in the day to just have to pretend look after their kids for just two days per week, then get 12 days off, then see them again. Two days is such a short time, they wouldn't really need to even worry about cooking nutritious food, take away would do for a couple of days. In other words, pretend child-rearing.
But you can't really blame them, for those who can remember, it wasn't really until the last twenty years that men have developed an awareness of child-rearing and looking after themselves. You can thank feminism for that. It hasn't just emancipated women, it has emancipated men from wife-surrogate mothers. Men today are therefore in much greater stead of having courts seriously consider shared-custody for them, considering their greater skill-set.

Elusive Wapiti said...

"You can thank feminism for that."

No, not really. Not too long ago, but before anyone reading this blog was born, parenting books were written for men. To be sure, industrialization and literacy has much to do with the shift away from men to women, but the simple fact of the matter is that men did far more child rearing than they do presently.

It would be a mistake to confuse the present state of things with how things were. Or how they should be.

"...considering it will deliver what you desire"

Perhaps this is where the issue lays. You think that men desire--or think is best for the children--the two-weekends-per-month regime. Or that they are satisfied with taking the back seat in their families to their wives whilst they slave away in paid employment.

I submit you are quite wrong in all accounts.

wanderling said...

No you have not understood and therefore havent considered that equalitarianism will deliver 50:50 shared parenting, considering men are now considered as equally capable of child rearing, motivation is no longer going to cut it.

Elusive Wapiti said...

I have considered it and have concluded that equalitarianism the ideology, having run smack into the harsh reality of biology, cannot and will not deliver the goods that you think it will.

Since I am unable to conceive of this eventuality, perhaps you can detail for us all how equalitarianism, expressed through feminism or whatever -ism you deem appropriate, will deliver shared parenting to the half million or so child victims of divorce per year.

wanderling said...

Men may have done more childrearing in the past but they have never done more than women. As I have already outlined, equalitarianism will enable men to do equal parenting, and in fact, women, particularly working mothers, have been pushing men to do that for a considerable amount of time.
Women have proven they can work equally as hard, and often, better, than men, in fields that do not rely on physical strength.
If women can do tasks traditionally performed by men, then the converse can also apply.
And this is already the case, of all the families I know, in 50% of them the woman is the primary breadwinner and the man stays home and raises the children. Of course, those families are still intact. But it's still pertinent. In situations where fathers aren't alcoholics, lazy entitled idiots or criminals, there is no reason why men should not be expected to actually do 100% of parenting for 50% of the time, as opposed to 14% of the time, which frankly, is pathetic.

Feminism has enabled women to go to work and inadvertently enabled men to assume greater responsibility for child-rearing based on necessity, considering women aren't superhuman nor personal slaves who should be expected to just take care of everything.

I agree that not all men lack motivation to take proper care of their children or spend time with them. There are plenty of great fathers are around. There are also plenty of lazy fathers who contribute nothing other than money when it comes to raising their children and that's the way they like it. The children certainly wouldn't suffer from not seeing these fathers very often because such fathers don't provide adequate parenting when they see their children anyway.

wanderling said...

As to yr claim that in vic england, men were granted custody and this somehow implies proof men make better parents, where to begin? Of course children remained with dad, when dad kept the house even if it was originally his wife's family home. As u should be very well aware, women had no rights to property. Secondly, this does not mean the father did much or any childrearing, considering they had cooks, nannies and live in school teachers to actually do the childrearing.

Elusive Wapiti said...

I am closing this thread and will re-open a separate post on it.