The Fatherless Epidemic: Rediscovering Fatherhood’s Eden

Lauren Chase, Steven May, Heather Scott, Kim Woods, and Brandon Youngblood

Etiology of Fatherlessness

Even before a society was formed, man was given responsibility that was unattainable. As present day society moves towards a reconstruction of masculinity from traditional, emotionless male norms (see Gender-Role Strain), it is in a sate of fatherlessness (because of Original Sin), yet most do not know where this epidemic started. Masculine stigma breeds a divide between interpersonal relationships, societal misunderstanding of emotions, and gender confusion, which leads to maladaptive behaviors, aversive lifestyles and further stigma. When there are maladaptive lifestyles and aversive stigma, men often abandon their responsibilities. Fatherlessness becomes cyclical; fatherlessness breeds more fatherlessness. A theoretical Eden (or purification) of the fatherhood crisis in society can be attained. It will be incredibly difficult and it might not be logical, but it may be possible. Through the education of the fatherless epidemic, Fatherhood’s Eden can be rediscovered.

As a conceptual example, sin has been widely recognized as the act of separating from God. This separation has grown into a societal catastrophe, and the development of this societal problem can be philosophically demonstrated by the concept of Original Sin. When the Original Sin was committed, the Bible states that Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden of Eden. Pope John Paul II states that this Original Sin was not only a violation of a positive command given by God, but that the sin attempts to abolish fatherhood by eradicating the Rays of Fatherhood which shine forth from God into the life of the world (Miller, 1999). Essentially, as sin accumulates over time, society looses more of its presence and influence of God-father. Creation was the etiology of fatherhood; original Sin was etiology of fatherlessness.

In Eden, God gave Adam a single chance to uphold the ultimate responsibility for all of masculinity, and humanity; stoicism, independence, fervent drive for achievement was inherent. The Garden of Eden was paradise, and though a societal euphoria is not—nor should it be—the comprehensive goal, ardent pursuit on education and understanding of the societal condition of masculinity should be the objective, for man and woman the same. Fatherlessness is rooted in a jaded masculine identity and due to mans inherent masculine traits, stigma is going to cause angst if not diligently regulated by holistic education of self, society, and societies cultural requirements. When the masculine identity is contingent upon codes that are rigid, factors outside of oneself are given too much power in ones cognitions and behaviors. The result is the abandonment of their families and the perpetuation of fatherlessness. “Death kills men but sustains fatherhood. Abandonment sustains men but kills fatherhood. Death is more personally final, but departure is more culturally lethal. From a societal perspective, the former is an individual tragedy. The latter is a cultural tragedy” (Blankenhorn, 1995, 24).

The epidemic of fatherlessness is a seemingly unstoppable force. Educating the individual on the present condition of fatherhood, as well as the evolution of fatherhood throughout human history, are the only foreseeable solutions for the panacea of this epidemic. The problem is rooted in the original maladaptive experience: the dissolution of Eden.

Leading Figures in Fatherhood Education

David Blankenhorn, New York Journalist and author of Fatherless America (1995), and Ronald Levant, esteemed Psychologist, founder of the Society for the Psychological Study of Men and Masculinity (SPSMM) and author of Masculinity Reconstructed (1995), are both leading figures in educating societies’ indiscriminate comprehension of fatherhood. However, despite the beautiful simplicity that each theory presents and the apparent similarity between the two there is dissonance and conflict between the two viewpoints. The interaction between these two expressions of the societal change in fatherless will constitute the synthesis that is expressed forthcoming.

The Affects of Absent Fatherhood

Fatherlessness is a statistically proven epidemic that is debilitating today’s youth, starving them of wellbeing, happiness, completeness, and lifelong stability, and essentially setting them up for ultimate cyclical failure. Realistically, a generation ago an average American child could expect to grow up with his or her father. Today, however, American children are far less likely to enjoy—what is now known as—the luxury of a fathered home. Due to the alarming rate at which fathers are becoming nonexistent in the lives of their children, nearly 40 percent of American children will go to sleep in homes in which their fathers do not live. Despite alarming evidence for it, the fatherlessness epidemic is commonly ignored and denied, and society has socially constructed the fathers role, and it is moving towards an irrelevant position in the family unit (Blankenhorn, 1995).

Fatherhood has diverted from being a natural necessity and has become a preferential lifestyle choice which men today are given the option of carrying out. Currently, one third of all childbirths within the United States occur outside of marriage. The majority of these cases result in a blank space left on the birth certificate where the father’s name should appear (Blankenhorn, 1995). The question left unanswered is what happens to the children now that they have been left behind?

Aversive Affects of Present Fatherhood

So many young boys who are left without fathers are lost when it comes to guidance regarding not only how to be a man, but how to be a good man. Becoming a good man is very difficult when society hold a stigmatizing code over men. Historically, The Code of Masculinity describes seven male role norms that traditional men experience and are stigmatized by. These qualities include: (1) avoiding all things feminine, (2) restricted emotionality, (3) nonrelational attitudes towards sex, (4) unconditional pursuits of achievement and status, (5) perpetual self-reliance, (6)strength and aggression, and (7) homophobia (Levant, 1992; 1995; Levant & Kopecky, 1995; Smith, 2008). The code of masculinity is what men feel they must attain in order to be a real man. Ronald Levant admits that the “times are changing” but that does not negate the fact that the traditional code still holds power over the men who were reared with it; the norms are still inbred in them and due to the devastating social stigma of violating the code, these men will be hard pressed to disregard their upbringing (Levant & Kopecky, 1995). This code is essential in understanding why fathers are abandoning their children; when there is a pressure for men to unconditionally provide for their families, they will take on defeatisms if they cannot complete the unfair codes of society, ultimately resulting in abandonment.

According to a study done by Kamarck and Galston (1990), the relationship between crime and one-parent families is so significant that the controlling for family configuration erases the relationship between race and crime and between low income and crime. According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice, 65 percent of the women who were violently assaulted between 1979 and 1987 were victimized by their boyfriends or ex-husbands, as compared to 9 percent who were victimized by husbands (Harlow, 1992). Of the reported cases of non-parental child abuse, nearly 50 percent are committed by boyfriends, even though boyfriends only provide about 2 percent of all non-parental childcare. Within the cases dealing occurring in single-parent homes, 64 percent of the perpetrators are boyfriends (Lamb, 1992).

However, the number of victims of this resulting violence is not limited to the people that the fatherless affect. In a study conducted by David Brent et al. (1995), teens living in single-parent families are not only more likely to commit suicide, but also more likely to suffer from psychological disorders when compared to teens living in intact families. Angel and Angel (1996) claim that children who do not live in a two-parent home are more likely experience emotional problems and use mental health services than children who live with both biological parents.

Adding to the tragedy is the amount of children without fathers living below the national poverty line. In 1997, poor children lived in households that did not include their biological fathers 65 percent of the time, compared to only 25 percent of children who were not in poverty (Feeley, 2000). Fatherlessness has become the most powerful determinant of child poverty, rising above the influences of race, religion, and the education level of the mother (Blankenhorn 1995).

The cyclical nature of the fatherless life is shown through the vast amount of adolescent childbearing. It is in these cases in which the dividing line between biological paternity and fatherhood is drawn. In more than two-thirds of all cases of teenage childbearing today, the mother is unmarried. In addition, each year, unmarried teen mothers account for a larger share of the nation’s total number of child-births. For example, in 1985, they accounted for 7.5 percent of all births. In 1991, unmarried teen mothers accounted for 9 percent (Blankenhorn, 1995).

Gender-Role Strain

Dr. Pleck’s Gender-Role Identity Paradigm and the Gender-Role Strain as stated in The Myth of Masculinity (1981) states that for 50 years the early 1980’s, psychologists had concluded that males essentially attained a gender identity through in an innate psychological drive and that ones personality is contingent upon the development of this identity. The extent to which one is able to meet their inherent identity is based on how strictly they adhere to their traditional gender roles. However, if this identity is not met, it can cause devastating effects; Pleck states that the process is seeking an identity in an essentialist or nativist view of sex and gender is a failure-prone process and this failure can result in hypermasculinity, negative attitudes towards women, or homosexuality (Pleck, 1981).

However, Pleck offers an alternate paradigm, which is crucial to the psychology of masculinity movement. He suggests that gender identity is actually socially constructed and subject to change; this term is deemed the Gender-Role Strain. In paradigm, gender is a product of stereotypes and norms that are congruent with the culture and ones family of origin and roles are often contradictory and inconsistent. Straying from the standard is risking extreme social stigma; this can cause a devastating effect on men—shame, aggression, and depression (Pleck, 1981). This major shift in gender concept paved the way for the brewing Zeitgeist of masculinity studies.

Aversive Paternal  Influences

In the past two decades there has been an explosion of research on fathers. There is now a broad consensus that fathers are important contributors to both normal and abnormal child outcomes. Research tells us that young children with thoughtfully involve and caring fathers tend to be more outgoing, adaptable and secure. They learn social skills, they learn to make good choices and how to behavior in certain situations from their fathers. Their fathers also influence their behavior, academic performance, peer group and family relationships (Biller, 1970; Biller & Bahm, 1971; Blankenhorn, 1995; Bradshaw, 1996; Furrow, 1998; Levant & Kelly, 1989; Pleck, 1981). What happens when their fathers are abusive or are alcoholics? What happens when alcoholic fathers are physically present, but not emotionally present in their sons lives?

Present Fathers   

Alcoholism. After a study researched the effects of alcoholic fathers and their babies who were under 18 months old concluded that children with alcoholic fathers were more likely to have anxiety and depression. Children with alcoholic fathers had more externalizing problems, like temper tantrums. Further research discovered more problems as the children got older. Sons of alcoholic fathers are four to nine times more likely to develop alcoholism than the general population. Sons develop low socioeconomic status, cognitive impairments and increase heart rate and aggressiveness. Children with alcoholic fathers have higher levels of internalizing and externalizing behavior than children of nonalcoholic fathers (Assad et al., 2003).

Sons with alcoholic fathers manifest externalizing disorders more often than girls. Alcoholic fathers give a negative family environment. Alcohol often dominates an alcoholic’s thoughts, thus hindering his or her ability to be a healthy parent. They are either extremely rigid or lax in the child-rearing practices (Dbkin, Trembley, & Sacchitelle, 1997). Sons of alcoholic fathers noted that the fathers have onset alcohol abuse as teenagers with a high incidence of anti-social behavior and repeated hospitalization for alcoholism and they could be characterized as type 2 alcoholic. This is a vicious cycle; alcoholic fathers not only cause their family stress, but they pass down their problem to their sons (Trasman, Hales, & Frances,  1989).

Another situation where their fathers traumatize sons is when they are abusive. Sons who have poor care from their fathers were more likely to develop behavioral problems in their teen years than those who had has good paternal care. Boys who were abused when they were young can recall those memories and express anger and hatred toward their fathers. As well as hatred, sons often experienced high rates of chronic behavior problems in adolescence, such as truancy, theft, aggression and disruptive at school. Research shows that poor-quality father-son relationship is more damaging than being brought up only by a single mother. Fathers should be more generally aware of the importance of the role as parent (Hepwroth, 1995).

Absent Fathers

Absent fathers are more or less temporarily absent from the children as a result of active service in the armed forces, leaving from home to find work, undertaking work that took them away from home, imprisonment or hospitalization. The three common reasons for absent fathers are non-marital births, the breakdown of the relationships of unmarried cohabiting couples with children, and the separation and divorce of married couples with children. One third of fathers that left after divorce never saw their sons again (Bradshaw, 1996).

Having absent fathers severely affects the cognitive development of their children. Infants raised in father absent homes did less reaching, grasping and following of objects and playing with new toys and objects in their environment. Fathers who played games such as “peek-a-boo” and “toss the ball” with their children had children who scored higher on cognitive tests than children whose fathers were not emotionally or physically there. Some researchers believe that active father involvement has a positive effect on their child’s math skills (Hewpworth, 1995).

When fathers are absent in the family it severely affects the abandoned sons’ capacity for self-esteem and intimacy. They have a hard time developing and sustaining self-esteem, forming lasting emotional attachments, recognizing their feelings, or being expressive with their adult partners and children. These men must turn their attention toward their absent fathers and resolve the mystery of their absence to ensure that their current intimate relationship can succeed. The sons are also affected in their development emotionally and have problems in school (Bradshaw, 1996).

Since we live in a society where fathers are emotionally absent from the homes, the responsibility of parenting is often placed on mothers. Children possess a natural psychological and emotional need for both parents to be present and when one is not, a negative effect can result (Tasman, Hales, & Frances, 1989). The relationship between the maternal influence on masculine self-concept in father-absent versus father-present junior high school boys was done by Biller and Biller (1971). Father presence has been deemed important to a boy’s identification of his masculine identity. When a boy is deprived of the father figure, a disruption of his sex-role identity can be the result (Biller, as cited in Biller & Bahm, 1971). The research by Biller and Bahm (1971) observed three groups that compared correlations between father absence and masculine self-concept.

An adjective checklist that described masculine qualities (i.e. adventuresome, competitive, forceful, independent) was used to measure the masculinity of self-concept, and a 2-sort technique was used to assess the perceived maternal encouragement of masculine behavior. The groups included: early father-absent (beginning before age 5) boys (N=10), late father-absent (beginning after age 5) boys (N=10), and father-present boys (N=20). It was hypothesized that father-absent boys would show little difference between father present boys in their masculine self-concept if the father-absent boys observe maternal influence encouraging masculine behaviors (Biller & Bahm, 1971).

The mean grade level for the early father-absent group was 7.70 (four seventh graders, five eighth graders, one ninth grader), and the mean age was 14 years 5 months (SD=8 months). For the late father-absent group, mean grade level was 7.80 (four seventh graders, four eighth graders, two ninth graders), and the mean age was 14 years 2 months (SD=11 months). The father-present group had mean grade levels of 7.75 (eight seventh graders, nine eighth graders, three ninth graders) and mean age 14 years 4 months (SD =9 months). Subjects had a mean IQ of 103 and were from middle to lower middle class. The sample was predominately Caucasian (Biller & Bahm, 1971).

Findings in this study stayed consistent with previous research by Biller that suggested that father-absence is related to a boys identification to his masculine self-concept (Biller, as cited in Biller & Bahm, 1971). The early father-absent boys had significantly less masculine self-concepts than the father-present boys (t=2.05, df=28, p<.05). However, the late father-absent boys were not significantly different from the father-present boys (t=1.58, df=18, p <.10). there were no significant findings suggesting  that maternal encouragement of masculine behaviors was helpful in developing a masculine self-concept. However, there were significant findings suggesting that encouraging aggressive behaviors in father-absent boys helped lead to a masculine self-concept (Biller & Bahm, 1971).

Biller and Bahm have presented research suggesting that the presence of the father figure is crucial to the development of masculine identity. When the father-figure is absent, especially early in a child’s life, the masculine self-concept great chance of becoming jaded. According to this study, the maternal influences can hinder a boy’s development of his masculine identity, especially if the mother is overbearing or neurotic. However, Biller and Bahm (1971) suggest further research should be explored in this area. Also, longitudinal studies should be conducted in order to assess the masculine self-concepts of the boys across a larger period of time.

Alternative Causes for Father Absence

Some fathers are emotionally absent because they have a psychological disorder. Borderline personality disorder is common in men who abandon their children.  People diagnosed with this disorder have instable emotional responses like anger. They have impulsive behaviors that effect children; these behaviors include spending sprees, excessive use of alcohol or drugs, self-injurious acts and sexual indiscretions. They have a poor sense of identity. If a person with borderline personality disorder is trying to raise a child while struggling with these symptoms can be very damaging for the child. If a male is unable to cope with his own emotions then he will be unable to be an adequate father for the emotional wellbeing of his children. When his children need that guidance, his own emotional bulwarks will signal retreat—which ultimately leads to abandonment. Other notable disorders that are common in fatherhood abandonment are depression, bi-polar, and dissociative disorders (Tasman, Hales, & Frances, 1989). He will be unable to be an adequate father for the emotional wellbeing of his children.

Faith and Fatherhood

Fatherhood is a role constructed by societal dictates which has numerous contributing factors. The social influences which shape and form the role within which fathers operate are clearly identified by the cultural and social narratives that demonstrate the beliefs and values of a given era (Furrow, 1998). The role of fatherhood undeniably contains both moral and ethical obligations, as fathers play an integral part in child rearing. Within these moral and ethical obligations, Christian religious narratives detail the concept of ideal fatherhood based on biblical perspectives. These narratives describe the Christian guidelines for what men should be, and within this topic are specifics regarding expectations of men who are leaders, husbands, and fathers.

Male Headship

Historical significance. The tradition of human society is founded on the elevation of males over females. This role of men was specifically shaped by Aristotle’s threefold household theory which mandated the rule of master over slave, husband over wife, and father over children.  According to this theory, men had very specific roles in their households as the absolute patriarch.  These views were spread throughout the Mediterranean world through Aristotle’s writings and followers, eventually even becoming an integral part of the Roman Empire and a foundation for cultural beliefs regarding the role of men in society (Miller, 1999).

Christian interpretation. Male headship within the Christian church has been a common source of frustration and dissent throughout the history of Christianity.  Specific roles are given to men and women in the Bible, and this specificity leaves little room for altering the gender roles established within the body of the church.  As our society has evolved to be more accommodating of women in the workforce than ever before, many women are dissatisfied with the seemingly outdated Biblical roles. In addition, concepts of submission have frequently been interpreted to mandate a belittling of the female persona, and with the entirety of leadership positions in the church and the home being filled by males, women are often left wondering what their position is within society  (Koessler, 2008).

This Christian ideal of headship is directly linked with the Aristotelian ideals of household roles. Because it was a part of the culture of the day, Aristotle’s family theory can be found in early biblical texts (Blankenhorn, 2004; Browning, 2004; Van Leeuwen, 2004).

Specific biblical references are in Ephesians 5:21-33, Colossians 3:18-25, and I Peter 3:1-7 (New International Version). Specifically, the Colossians passage gives a threefold proposal of male headship over wives, slaves, and children which is almost identical to the Aristotelian household theory. These two models of headship are extraordinarily similar, but the reasons for which each uses headship as its standard for societal function are vastly different. Aristotelian theory encourages men to be leaders synonymous with those of a monarchy, a tyranny, and an aristocracy (Miller, 1999).  This shows that Aristotle and thereby the culture of that era saw the ideal male to be strong-willed, oppressive and uncontestable. However, Christianity emphasizes power through humility. Ephesians 5:25 instructs husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church, meaning that the love should be both sacrificial and humble. Although the male is the head of the household, he is to lead in a way which is founded on love and humility. Christian headship formed its basis from Aristotelian theories of headship, yet the two are fundamentally different in nature.

American Psychological Association. There have been numerous arguments made against the current cultural ideal of the role of men, husbands, and fathers by Division 51 of the American Psychological Association. This division, also known as The Society for the Psychological Study of Men and Masculinity, notes a societal problem with Gender-Role Strain, of which strong male roles such as headship are said to be a contributing factor. Gender roles establish differences in the way that mothers and fathers are viewed in society and in their homes, as well as how they interact with their children, and these differences create stress (Silverstein, Auerbach, & Levant, 2002).  When in a headship position, the cultural norm is for the father to provide for and lord over the family, as Aristotle’s household theory dictates.  However, as these cultural norms are shifting, men are more frequently expected to participate in child care activities and act affectionately toward their families, which is in direct conflict with cultural ideals of headship. In order to alleviate this Gender-Role Strain Division 51 researchers call for a change in the gender role system which would create a more egalitarian male-female dyad (Silverstein, Auerbach, & Levant, 2002), thereby doing away with headship in its entirety (see A Closer Look at Blankenhorn’s Perspective of Fatherless America; A Synthesis of Masculine Modalities).

The Ideal Father

Aristotelian headship and Division 51 egalitarianism are two opposing views of how a man should interact with his social environment; Christianity has created its own model of masculinity, and thereby, fatherhood, which encompasses aspects of each of these differing standards.  This ideal father is both the head of the household and the helper of his wife (Blankenhorn, 1995); he provides for his family and interacts kindly with his children. Neither of the social theories proposed by Aristotle or Division 51 considers the possibility of these two differing male roles to be entwined with one another, which is what makes the Christian model so unique.  The model is intended to create males who lead by humble compassion, and is illustrated in narratives throughout the Bible. Foremost in these narratives, however, are the illustrations of God as father to all of mankind, and the relationship between God the father and Jesus the son. The significance of this relationship forms the basis for the Christian ideal of fatherhood.

God as father. Throughout the narratives of the Old Testament, God is referred to as “Father.” He is called the god of the fathers (Exodus 3:15) and the father of the gods (Genesis 33:20; Joshua 22:22).  God is the author of humankind, and humans are made in his image (Genesis 1:27).  Not only does his name become synonymous with “Father” because of the way in which it is used, God acts as a father to his people and his creation by leading and protecting them. By using God as a template for fatherhood, one is able to see what his intentions for paternity were from the beginning of time (Miller, 1999).  A father is not only a creator if life, but is responsible for his creation once it has been created, and his identity is to be found in leading and protecting that creation.

Jesus as son. In the New Testament, God is not only referred to as “Father,” but he shows his paternal love to the world by sending his Son to save humanity. Because of the sin of man, there was a disconnect between father and creation, and God saw fit to reconcile his creation to himself.  The ultimate fatherly love is through sacrifice, as the only way to reconcile humanity was through the sacrifice of God’s own son. Through this act, a question is also posed as to why this father-son relationship was chosen to exist between God and Jesus.

Fatherless America, David Blankenhorn

In the last several decades, perhaps due to the nature of media exposure, there has surfaced in America a widespread unwillingness to be a biological father. Countless examples assault the public eye with stories of children searching for their absent, unknown father. And these unsightly tragedies speak nothing of the evasion of proven biological fathers to be the providers, role-models, or mentors their children need. Our crisis is an obvious one, as juvenile delinquency, adolescent pregnancy, crimes against women and children, and poverty are on the rise (Blankenhorn, 1995).

Two basic formulations have emerged to explain the cause of the aforementioned symptoms, and both of these systems focus on the same issue: masculinity and fatherhood. The first theory attempting to explain our problem comes from Division 51 of the American Psychological Association, SPSMM. Its tenets, rooted firmly in the agenda of feminism, promote that all these negative issues stem from masculinity: that all of these injustices are the result of male oppression and the dying institution that is masculinity. They assume that fatherhood and masculinity, since they are inherently gender-based, are entirely unnecessary. They hold that all men, whether they want to be or not, are part of the problem. So, by rejecting fatherhood and excluding men from family spheres, our gender-role problems will be solved (Blankenhorn, 1995).

The second explanation comes from the diametric pole of philosophy, an opposition in the form of David Blankenhorn; social historian, family advocate, and political proponent (Institute for American Values, 2008). Regarding gender-roles, masculinity, and fatherhood, he argues that our social mores have entered waters that have never been sailed in recorded history. This new state of society is unlike anything else and has undeniable positives, but closer study of its adoption has revealed a terrible outcome: the destruction of masculinity. With the destruction of masculinity has come the death of its progeny: fatherhood. This destroys all fatherhood encompasses and strives to engender in forthcoming generations; namely marital values and obligations, the meaning of procreation, masculine identity, the joys parenting, and responsibility (Blankenhorn, 1995).

Before fatherhood was destroyed in recent decades, it had been continually minimized since colonial America. Until the early 19th century, fathers were esteemed the most important provider and caretaker for children, and were given custody in divorce settlements. Fathers and fathers alone were viewed responsible for the welfare, advancement, and education of their children. When the industrial revolution began separating work and home, the replacement of male headship with that of the female was started. Democratization of our society led to more egalitarian marriage and decreased the power of the husband. While this is an entirely beneficial outcome, the eventual feminist rejection of masculinity has taken the trend too far and has reversed the system of devaluing and oppression (Blankenhorn, 1995).

The father has become an absent chief executive, separate from the family, who is forced to seek a definition of manhood away from paternity. His previous tasks of provision and family maintenance now abandoned from social pressure, the father is both the victim and perpetuator of a cycle that continues to devalue him culturally. The result is a society that has left all unsure of what fatherhood actually entails, that questions who can be a father and whether the position is even necessary. Society asks that we become “more aware” and “more accepting” of fatherhood but simultaneously demonizes the institution. Fatherhood has become a negative concept, and men have become threats to be avoided. Women are taught that it is “better safe than sorry,” that no father is better than the risk of a bad one. Men and the fathers they become are tyrants, corrupt leaders, undeniably selfish (Blankenhorn, 1995).

This new agenda, claiming equality and progression, is actually the ultimate expression of selfishness. It preaches that reaching the pinnacle of human potential is an individual, genderless, asocietal endeavor. This deviant agenda craves omnipotence and insists that human limitation is irrevocably wrong, morally and conceptually; denying the other half of anthropological experience. It distracts with excuses about deadbeat dads and replacement fathers, and talk of improving divorce procedures to benefit children. While improving these procedures is not a negative, it has become a distraction from the primary argument. The argument for keeping the nuclear family and original marriage relationship intact: to reinstall the value of the father into our culture. In embracing fatherhood society must address the problems that masculinity has historically presented, but it is a wholly different and unacceptable conclusion to discard the father and claim improvement for children and the family (Blankenhorn, 1995).

Although it must be conceded there are clear cases where the biological donation predicating fatherhood must be negated for the father’s inappropriate actions, the dissolution of fatherhood has created mass confusion about who the father is. This lack of clarity on the father’s role leads to court battles and painful situations as biological parents once allowed to absent are given strange judicial power over their abandoned children at their own fickle convenience. While it would be truly naïve to demand parental presence and responsibility in all cases, it would not be a poor ideal and would be greatly superior to the current systemic inconsistency and formlessness (Blankenhorn, 1995).

The proposed solution: Since fatherhood is so inherently a cultural construction, the transformation must begin with the culture. Fatherhood must be defined as an obligation into which the responsible parties are conscripted, a drafted duty in which males are made the effective leaders children need by the strictures of the cultural definitions. The cultural experts that define the mass public’s thoughts, feelings, and actions must be enlisted. Their words collectively describe and outline social goals and norms for the impressionable society at large, and the necessary changes cannot be made without their cooperation (Blankenhorn, 1995).

The New Father proposed by feminism and now promoted by Division 51 must be shown for what it is: a rouse. Paternal tenderness and involvement, its positive and promotable aspects, are nothing new or unique as they claim, but instead timeless. This stolen façade houses the darker agenda of an impossible and implausible scenario that denies gender, both socially and scientifically. It is, instead of liberation, an irresponsible embarking into the uncharted and, now evidenced, dangerous waters of culturally promoted fatherlessness. The father they espouse must be dissatisfied with work, as it leads to conflict with family. This New Father must view the responsibility, competition, and aggression with disdain. Essentially they demand the utter rejection of some of the most crucial and unique aspects of masculinity to preemptively prevent corruption; blindly denying those aspects’ traditional, advantageous, and accepted prosocial expressions (Blankenhorn, 1995).

Masculinity and fatherhood in the present day have shared the fate that was once limited to progressive science and fallen victim to reductionism. But never has the erroneous assumption that the whole is merely an equal sum of the parts been more apparent than with fatherhood. What we find with certain concepts, such as fatherhood, is that the individual tasks relegated to separate entities do not even begin to equal the splendor of the responsible, integrate whole. An honest evaluation cannot shy from this. Nor can it deny that selflessness and servanthood yoked with masculinity is strictly religious in conception. Because, in the absence of morality, hedonism and selfishness are the ultimate ends, in which males would be best served by serving themselves, not spending themselves in the benefaction of the family unit. The answer though is not a blind calling to tradition or religious precepts, but it is instead an all too necessary reevaluation of the inherently valuable foundational purposes that those traditions once endowed to the fabric of our families, societies, and cultures (Blankenhorn, 1995).

A Synthesis of Masculine Modalities

Ronald Levant and the Fatherhood Project

Many of the men in SPSMM believe parenting should be androgynous. Meaning that because of Gender-Role Strain gender should be abolished in order to seek egalitarian living across society. They would ascertain that the egalitarian society can only be attained through a man’s submission to feminism and a withdrawal from traditional masculinity (Levant, 1995). Levant teaches men that it is important to have skills of emotional empathy and emotional self awareness, qualities that most men had never fathomed. The skills the Fatherhood Project sought to teach men were to developed healthy communication skills between father and child so that when difficult subjects arise, son’s and daughters feel they have an ally. Also, it is important that fathers identify the strengths of their children in order to empower them and not tear them down like their fathers likely did to them (Levant & Kelly, 1989). These fathers were taught how to use their new skills to function better as a husband, friend, and community member because a father must have context to the environment in order to guide his child (Levant, 1996).

The pressure men felt to adhere to the Code of Masculinity created such ambivalence that many men have long failed to connect with their children. In the past, fathers were typically unavailable and distant. However, over the past thirty years, the feminist movement has changed many of the misogynistic views of headship in society. Men are expected to take on more of a feminine role in the household and in relationships; a problem arises because they have never been asked to conform to anything. The Fatherhood Project was a way to give men a chance to create a vocabulary for emotions that they had likely never heard before; words such as, vulnerable, abandonment, lonely, petrified, hopeful and intimidated (Levant & Kopecky, 1995). This established ways for them to be vulnerable in ways that they had never been before with their family. Levant emphatically states that as fathers, it is imperative to have a vocabulary of emotions in order to guide children’s development. The more emotionally intelligent a father is, the better his children’s chances of attaining self-actualized adulthood. Likewise, a father will enjoy the affectionate relationship with his children many men yearned to have with their own dads (Levant & Kelly, 1989; Levant & Kopecky, 1995).

Traditional and Inherent Masculinity

Traditional masculinity, as SPSMM termed, means unemotional, distant, alexythimic, which means no words for emotions (Levant, 1995; Levant & Kopecky, 1995), workaholic, consummate provider, and other hypermasculine traits (see section Aversive Affects of Present Fatherhood in Daily Life). But the true expression of traditional masculinity should be termed inherent masculinity. Due to these roles that men feel they must accomplish, they are willing to sacrifice personal needs to provide for others. These men are often willing to endure exuberant pain and hardship to protect their family. Likewise, problem solving tasks are always welcomed; responsibility is thought to be inbred in the masculine creed. Also, the traditional man is very constructive in how he shows his affection; he is loyal to his commitments, diligent in his work, and calm under pressure. These qualities are not to be wasted—it is when traditional masculinity blasphemes the celebrated traits of inherent masculinity that men such as Ronald Levant sought to intervene (Levant, 1995; Levant & Kopecky, 1995).

The Code of  Masculinity is a blasphemy of what was meant to be structured, guidance for men (Levant, 1995; Levant & Kopecky, 1995). Teaching a young boy to be strong against diversity, to stand up and not run in the face of danger, to be bold, independent and courageous is not hegemony, but something beautiful and the essence of the true family man (Blankenhorn, 1995). To take risks, be daring, to walk on the wild side—these are not negative things. However, knowing children have a supportive father, guiding them through life success, watching over failures and reassuring them of their worth, is the relinquishing of the Gender-Role Strain that the reconstruction of masculinity must strive to attain (Blankenhorn, 1995; Levant 1989; 1995; Levant & Kopecky; 1989; Pleck 1981). The Code of Masculinity fails because it rejects balance. It stifles emotions and perpetuates stoicism as the only option. Men should be strong and stoic, but not exclusively, men must also be gentle, and loving.

Traditional masculinity should not be abolished; there are traits to be appreciated about the traditions of manhood; however, masculinity is indeed a broken term, and in need of reconstruction (Levant, 1995; Levant & Kopecky, 1995).  Blankenhorn (1995) declares what is inherent in the creation of masculinity is what will save masculinity and fatherlessness. Through education of inherent masculinity, it is hypothesized that the Code of Masculinity, male-headship, and fatherlessness will steadily erode and society will observe a new man capable of a love unseen before in the traditional man.

The fatherless crisis began when Original Sin dichotomized the original Father-child relationship. The role a father plays in a child’s life is quintessential. The first father-child relationship experienced a disconnection; Original Sin was the first disconnect of fatherhood. It not surprising that the crisis of fatherlessness has escalated to such an epidemic. Masculinity has been left to defend its own without the support of a social empathy and has had ridged codes put on it that must be attained to avoid social shame. The institution of fatherhood may never see complete purification in society, but when a dad is intentionally present in the lives of his children, showing them that they are valued and loved, society can truly see that Fatherhood’s Eden exists. Attaining Eden must come from the intimacy and guidance of the father-son relationship, building up honorable men and future fathers for generations to come.


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