The hidden half of domestic violence
How to have eternal life
Are Fathers Disposable?
Are Fathers Disposable?" by Tony Zizza I stood patiently in line at McDonalds Sunday afternoon and overheard an amazing conversation between a father and son. "But Daddy...I don't want to go back to Mommy's at the same time every Sunday." The boy sported a big Braves cap. He might have been six years old. He pulled at his father's left arm with some force after speaking a familiar lament. His father put on another happy face and said, "I wish we could spend more time together Steven. I'm going to ask your mom and the judge if that would be ok." Steven issued another "But Daddy..." as the cashier handed me my change. Moments later, I left the line with my food and gave a nod of acknowledgement to the father and his son Steven. Fellow victims of the standard visitation arrangements handed down by Georgia's family courts. Every other weekend, with miniscule time in-between. It's "fatherhood in 48 hours", if you will. A biological father turned into a "visitor." A son who sees that daddy's somehow just "rented" to him every other weekend. What a mess. How did this happen? For the last thirty years, the divorced/unwed father in America has been under siege. With the advent of no-fault divorce and a consistent campaign against masculinity, fatherhood became a problem. While women were properly entering the work force and college in record numbers, fathers were still left out of the picture at home. Women and men now work outside the home, but men as fathers are still shown to be bumbling drones in the household. How many times have you seen fathers portrayed as morons on television? Fathers can't even cook a meal, do housework or take the garbage out, right? Wrong. While everyone believed Arlie Hochschild when she wrote in her book "Second Shift" that men only do seventeen minutes of household work a day compared to three hours logged by women, she forgot to mention the multitude of other things men do including yard work, repairs and actually bringing home a paycheck. Part of the bias fathers face can be pinned on what Richard Warshak calls the "motherhood mystique." We believe as fact that mothers provide nurturing and emotional support best and fathers provide discipline and financial support best. In his book, "The Custody Revolution", he writes that "the motherhood mystique is the belief that mothers, not fathers, are uniquely suited to raise children." Are Fathers Disposable? Here in Georgia, Sen. Donzella James (D-East Point) introduced a simple bill that would have given the non-custodial parent (usually the father) weekends with their children that start Thursday afternoon, conclude after bringing their children to school Monday morning. Allowing the divorced/unwed father to parent their child, what a noble idea! Apparently not. Sen. Rene Kemp (D-Hinesville), the Senate Judiciary Chair, did not even hold a hearing. Don't tell me there are too many bills for the committee to consider, we have all seen that fatherless ness is a serious social problem. If the state legislature allows mothers to bring back their babies to the hospital a week after birth, is it a stretch to allow fathers more time on the weekend with their own children? Where do we go from here? The Office of Child Support Enforcement indicates collections are up some 60% since 1992. Fathers pay child support in a plethora of ways. In Georgia, fathers pay their support through payroll deduction even if they are not in default. Collecting child support is top priority for governments, making sure fathers and children spend time together is not. The message is crystal clear: fathers are disposable. We're allowed to whine about the Braves losing another World Series, but not about having to continually fight to see our children. A first step in ending the war on fatherhood is acknowledging that fathers matter. In the last decade there have been more than fifty new books about fathers. Warren Farrell, the author of "The Myth of Male Power" sees fathers this way, "As men discover they have been deprived of their fathers, they start asking if they are also being deprived of being fathers." Are fathers disposable? I think the little boy in the big Braves cap says no. As do I. Do you?
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JUNE is Domestic Violence Against Men Awareness Month