Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Consequences for Effective Fatherhood

From Maggie Gallagher, author of The Case for Marriage, writing in the Louisiana Law Review:

Once we sever, conceptually, the sexual alliance and the parenting alliance, we sever children from their uncontested claim to their parents’—especially their fathers’—care and protection.

And of course it is the fathers who disappear, because while fathers and mothers are equally beloved and important to their children, fatherhood and motherhood are not equally inevitable. Far more than mothers, reliable fathers are cultural creations, products of specific ideals, norms, rituals, mating and parenting practices.

Good fathers are made, not born.When family and sexual norms are weakened, it is generally children’s access to effective fathers, not mothers, that is most at risk. When we tell adults that parenting obligations are created by free choices of adults, and when the law’s role is limited to sanctioning and affirming all adults’ choices equally, the well-being of children is put at risk.

Can a society or culture reliably make men into good fathers while at the same time affirming in its governing family law that children do not need mothers and fathers, i.e., that all intimate sexual unions are equally valuable, regardless of their effects on child and social well-being? Will a society that adopts the set of ideas and ideals driving the post-modern family over the long march of generations ultimately even survive?

[My approach to marriage thinking is from the ground--or the child--up. If you are reading this, then the odds are overwhelming that A)you were once a child, and B) you are the product of one man and one woman. It is my view that, to the extent possible, each and every offspring deserves to be born into a unit that protects and supports the man and the woman that made it. I acknowledge that other structures exist, but I think, if we are honest, we can see that some ranking exists (e.g., having at least one parent is likely superior to being raised in an orphanage, more often than not), but a "stable, low-conflict union" composed of a child's progenitors is, both intuitively and statistically, superior to all other available structures.]

No comments: