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Fallen Fathers Were at-Home Heroes
Those who have chased Dave Blankenhorn around the country for blaming father-absence on fathers, and bad-mouthing the father's rights movement in his book "Fatherless America" will find the article below interesting.
Blankenhorn finally admits that he took some heat for his monocular focus on "deadbeats", but he still intentionally avoids mentioning the root cause of the majority of father-absence.
Now, our glib talker has finally admitted that he KNOWS that father- absence is predominantly not caused by fathers abandoning the family in his statement below, where he says, "the current generation of in-the-home, love-the-mother fathers are the best we've ever had."
Mr. Blankenhorn, if this is true, then why do approximately 40% of our "fallen heroes" fall into your illegitimate "deadbeat" category?
If Mr. Blankenhorn truly cared about human rights and the futures of children he would certainly have something more direct to say than this. 40% of American fathers have been served up on the platter of radical feminism -- and a lot of disenfranchised fathers died heroically in spite of the human rights abuses they sustained..
I say, "We must now grant to fathers the same right to be in the family as we have granted to women in the workplace." What do you say about that, Mr. Blankenhorn? Or are you in the business of mugwumping about deadbeat heroes?
You may send your polite commentary to Mr. Blankenhorn regarding his continuing predatory deception about fatherhood to him at fax number (212) 541-6665 , or email him at email@example.com , or visit his web site at http://www.americanvalues.org
The New York Times October 1, 2001
These Fallen Fathers Were at-Home Heroes by Jane Gross
Jeannine McIntyre's husband, Donald, a Port Authority police officer, planned to join the Parent-Teacher Association in New City, N.Y., even if he was the only man. He often surprised his 5-year-old daughter with "hair pretties," as she called barrettes. He had saved enough overtime for a monthlong paternity leave when his third child was born in December.
Dr. Nichole Brathwaite-Dingle's husband, Jeffrey, a high-tech executive, was a stay-at-home father during her medical residency, in charge of bedtime and bath time, school bus schedules and spelling words. He planned to take his 9-year-old son and 3-year-year-old daughter trick-or- treating on Halloween, while his wife was on call, had he not died in the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center.
Mr. McIntyre and Mr. Dingle, both in their 30's, are among the hundreds of dead and more than 5,000 still missing, most of them men, in the worst terrorist attack in American history. Some were gallant rescue workers, hailed for their courage.
But many more were heroes only to their wives and children. Now the world is hearing their stories, and taking a revealing look at a generation of men who defy cultural stereotypes of absent or work- obsessed fathers largely missing from their childrens' lives.
"This gives the lie to so much that we talk about," said David Blankenhorn, the founder of the Institute for American Values, a nonpartisan organization doing research on family issues that has focused on the growing number of fatherless children in America. "We've been thinking of men essentially as a problem in this society for a long time."
Mr. Blankenhorn, the author of "Fatherless America" (Basic Books, 1995), took some blame for the attention paid to men who either abandon their families or play marginal roles, leading to an epidemic of single-parent families. "The thing people like me didn't say clearly enough," he said, "is that the current generation of in-the-home, love-the-mother fathers are the best we've ever had. And their children are lucky, compared to other kids in this generation, but also historically."
At times of disaster like these, relatives recount the best about their loved ones, setting aside their faults and frailties. But the involvement of these men in their children's lives is compelling in its detail, hard to dismiss as gauzy sentiment.
There was John Robinson Lenoir, a senior vice president at Sander O'Neill & Partners, who wore a pink tutu at his daughter's ice-skating party, playing Dad the Dancing Bear. There was Richard Prouty, a firefighter, who slept for a week on his daughter's college dormitory room floor to help her through final exams when she was ill.
There was Ronald C. Fazio, an accountant at the Aon reinsurance company, who participated in planning every detail of his 30-year-old son's wedding scheduled for this month, including choosing a florist and reception hall. There was Andrew Alameno, a trader at Cantor Fitzgerald, who brushed the hair of his 2-year-old daughter's Barbie doll, played endless rounds of junior Monopoly with his 5-year-old son and skipped dinners with clients to hurry home to Westfield, N.J., by 6 o'clock.
And there was Andrew Kates, a senior managing director at Cantor Fitzgerald, who took his three children ice-skating or to the library every weekend even if it meant passing up a golf game. "It wasn't just me nagging him," said Emily Kates, 38, Andrew's wife, the mother of Hannah, 5, Lucy, 3, and Henry, 1. "Men are aware now that that's the deal. There's an expectation of equality."
The emergence of the involved father, an equal partner in the raising of children, has made headlines for at least a decade, one of many social changes wrought by the women's movement. But for most of that time, according to Judith Wallerstein, founder of the Center for Families in Transition in Northern California, model fathers were the exception, not the rule; more wishful thinking than reality.
"Hailing fatherhood, until very recently, was just a gleam in someone's eye," said Ms. Wallerstein, author of "The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce" (Hyperion, 2001). "But these men we're hearing about now are not just crazy guys who went to Antioch. This has become mainstream."
Mr. Blankenhorn recalled a time when fathers shook their sons' hands but would not dream of hugging them, when they defined their own responsibilities as "bringing home the bacon" being faithful and "being the disciplinarian."
Richard Lynch had a toddler and was looking forward to a houseful of kids, just as his father had. But the elder Mr. Lynch did not do the wash.
"A lot of these young men stepped up to the plate, even though their parents didn't," said Jan Mackell, Mr. Lynch's mother-in-law.
These days, he said, men who are in the focus groups he conducts as part of his research into what constitutes a good father still say their "prime imperative is to provide for the family."
But, after listing that as their No. 1 priority - "If you don't do that, you're not a man," he paraphrased - they want to discuss, at length, "how they feel about the day-to-day nurturing of their children."
It is this mundane nurturing that permeates the memories of widows and children.
Ron Fazio Jr., who is to be married on Oct. 14, said he comes up blank each time an interviewer asks his father's hobbies. "His true hobby was his family," Mr. Fazio. said. That meant camping trips in the Poconos, leading Boy Scout Troop 64 in Closter, N.J., and cooking pasta and red sauce for Sunday dinners. But it also meant activities rarely associated with men, such as planning the details of his son's wedding and spending the entire Labor Day weekend furniture-shopping for the young couple's new home.
Mrs. McIntyre, a stay-at-home mother to Caitlyn, 5, and Don Jr., 3, said her husband cooked dinner most nights. He also shopped for his children's clothes. "It sounds like I'm making it up," she said. "The other men used to say, `You're making us look bad.' But he was really in touch with his feminine side. Everyone used to say that."
Mrs. Alameno attributed her husband's eager participation to the fact that his father, a surgeon, and hers, a lawyer turned judge, were devoured by "building careers" when their children were young.
"Andy liked his work," Mrs. Alameno said. "It was challenging. But he didn't consider himself a worker bee. That's not how he defined himself. If you'd have asked him, he'd have said, `I'm a father.' "
When Dr. Brathwaite-Dingle, a pediatrician at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx, set out to plan a memorial service for her husband, she listed the lessons he had taught her and their children, Jassiem, 9, and Nia, 3. High on the list, she said, was the way he had "redefined gender roles" in their family.
When Jassiem was 4, Mr. Dingle got a job in Washington while his wife stayed in New York to begin clinical training. Her hours made it impossible for her to care for the child, the couple decided, so Jassiem lived with his father, who chose a school, hired a nanny and arranged play dates.
After Nia was born and the family was reunited in the Bronx, Mr. Dingle, studying for an M.B.A., was the full-time parent: cooking, doing laundry, going to parent-teacher conferences. Even after he returned to work, at Encompys, a high-tech company, Mr. Dingle made the pancakes every Saturday morning, baked Christmas cookies and went to see the Pokémon movies his wife despised.
He sounds too good to be true, Dr. Brathwaite-Dingle agreed ruefully.
"He did everything," she said, "except bathrooms."
Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company NYTimes Home: http://www.nytimes.com/
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JUNE is Domestic Violence Against Men Awareness Month