You’d think it’s obvious how important the role of a father is to his children, God designed us male and female on purpose, and equipped us beautifully for complementary and distinctive tasks. This is not to say that men or women are individually better at parenting than their opposite sex – often times a mother needs to take over a typical “father-role” when he’s absent for long periods, and likewise fathers may have to take over the more traditional “mothering-role” if they become widowed, divorced, etc. Those situations are not ideal, however, and most that have had to fill those roles (single parents especially) feel the burden and weight of missing their intended partner in parenting. The two-parent system is in place, not just because of it being easier, but in my personal beliefs, because it’s as God intended it to be.
In 1999, there was an article in American Psychologist (a scholarly journal) titled, Deconstructing the Essential Father, of which the point was to attempt to discredit the belief that fathers are actually needed by their children in the role of parenting. It’s mind-boggling to me that such a disturbing article was taken seriously enough to be included in an academic journal, however, with the rise of the wildly liberal feminist movement of the 70’s, lesbian/gay propaganda like this was actually very common, and has in part, led to the societal demise we endure today.
The problem is apparent when you look at it through the lens of equality. No one – absolutely no one – would dare question the role of a mother to her children. An article attempting to discredit the belief that mothers are needed would have world-wide criticism as being sexist and ridiculous (which it is). It would even go against the very science and nature of biology. However, anything can be written to attack fathers… if a feminist writes it.
Karla Mantilla, feminist author, has been quoted saying,
“I am highly suspicious of the upsurge of praises of fatherhood and the necessity of kids to have a male role model. I come by this suspicion after much experience with my own two kids and their male role model, their father … The propaganda that children, especially boys, need fathers I think, has contributed incalculably to the misery of children all over the world. Contrary to all the pro-father rhetoric of late, to the extent that we value fathers precisely for their ‘discipline’ and ‘toughening up’ qualities, we create children (especially boys) who are less empathetic and caring. If we want kinder, gentler (and less violent) adults, we need to focus on kinder gentler parenting.”
Ah yes, the all men are violent beasts kind of thinking. Wouldn’t she be interested to know that the family set-up that produces the most criminals are, in fact, families where the father is absent (single mother families).
The Deconstructing Fathers article goes on to claim that divorce doesn’t irretrievably harm the majority of children – and that a child who has never known his father would not be the worse for it.
The general consensus of the article is that fathers are not needed – and they may actually make a family worse due to their maleness and the resources they consume.
In my undergrad I majored in biology with a heavy chemistry course-load, I learned and reviewed studies on brain development and behavior between the sexes. One of the most fascinating things I studied was the researched biological affects of when a father is present or absent at the crucial time frame of an infant’s brain development. Many studies had already been conducted to prove the importance of maternity leave and infant brain development, however, these were done to show that fathers (and paternity leave) were important as well.
When a father was present, it was found that the brain of the infant developed differently – in areas that remained stagnant when the father was absent. Something about the male interaction and bonding with their infant stimulated connections that the mother being present didn’t.
An article in Scientific American (2010), which was looking at this particular phenomenon states, “Research shows that the father-child bond is crucial to a kid’s future success. If a father leaves his offspring to be raised solely by their mother, the children are more likely to suffer emotional troubles, be aggressive, experience addiction issues, or have run-ins with the law….
“A recent wave of studies are starting to bear fruit: We are now learning that in the first few days after birth, changes occur in the brains of both the dad and the baby, depending on whether the father is around or not.
While it appears the seed of the father-child bond is planted by supplemental neurons in a new dad, it seems a child, on the other hand, may be born with a brain that expects this bond to form in the first place.
To prove this, a few recent studies turned to a rodent that employs a remarkably familiar nest structure. Degu rats are biparental animals, which means parenting duties are split between the mothers and father. Degu fathers behave just like human fathers. They spend the early days of their pups’ lives helping with basic care, like warming and grooming. And as the pups get older, the degu fathers begin actively playing with their toddler offspring.
Researchers reasoned that absent fathers in the degu nests would create a true social and emotional void for the offspring, just as a missing dad would impact the dynamic of a human family. They found that if a rodent father remained in the nest with his pups – presumably due to the newfound bond with his offspring – his babies’ brains developed normally. But if the father was removed from the nest shortly after the birth of his pups, his newborns’ brains started to break down at the level of synapses, which are short chemical junctions in the brain that allow brain cells to communicate with each other.
Specifically, the degu pups raised without fathers had fewer synapses in both the orbitofrontal cortex and the somatosensory cortex. Having fewer synapses can alter the way information is processed in the young animals, and would make these brain areas perform abnormally.
The orbitofrontal cortex is a part of the prefrontal cortex that regulates decision-making, reward, and emotion. Extrapolating from the degu rat experiments, faulty synapses and processing problems in this locale may ultimately explain why we see some kids who grow up without a father in their life wrestle with (sometimes very serious) behavior problems.
These rat studies square with what we already know about the role of touch in neurological development. Having spent the prior weeks with the senses deprived while afloat in amniotic fluid, a newborn animal’s somatosensory cortex is ripe for change. But instead of flourishing in the early postnatal days, the synapses of the somatosensory cortex wither away when degus are raised without a father. As a consequence, the newborns may not process touch as well as they should, which could lead to a number of other developmental problems, like metabolism issues or irregularhormone production.
These animal studies show that a father’s brain is significantly and beautifully intertwined with his offspring’s. For whatever reasons, be they biological, evolutional, or societal, the onus of human parenthood has traditionally fallen on the mother. But the evidence is showing that a father has direct influence on his child’s neurodevelopment – and indeed, his brain can benefit as well.”
What a beautiful article from Scientific American, and that ending is almost spiritual. Juxtapose that next to what feminist Karla Mantilla said above, and you find that her claims (especially the claims that present fathers might make children (not just children… it’s always boys) more violent) are shown to be bull-shit. These findings are proving the exact opposite, that present fathers contribute to gentler, kinder, more compassionate men for our society. The noble men, and fearlessly strong in character leaders that our society truly needs.
More recent amazing findings are that the father’s brain changes also, it was seen that fathers gain a expansion of grey matter in areas that are associated with bonding and caring for their infant. This separate study’s conclusion was,
‘These early father-infant interactions and emotional bonding become the basis of the father-infant attachment, The findings may thus lead to the identification of specific brain regions of potential importance for early father-infant attachment.’
With our oldest son. Masculine strength & tenderness… so beautiful.