The “Boy Crisis”: Fathering Component Grounded in Father Disenfranchisement
June 18, 2019
Dr. Warren Farrell, co-author of “The Boy Crisis” and chairman of the Coalition to Create a White House Council on Boys and Men, recently talked about the Boy Crisis in an opinion piece published in USA Today.
The multi-faceted boy crisis encompasses issues and challenges in education, mental health, purpose and fathering. DRC programming and services specifically work within the fathering component of this issue, assisting the increasing numbers of fathers who find themselves estranged, or disenfranchised, from their children.
Millions of fathers are fighting obstacles and biases every day just for the right to be a father. These obstacles and biases are grounded in society’s aged definitions of the roles of men and women, in the legal system’s adherence to the outdated “Tender Years” doctrine of mother is best, and in gender biases found in courts and human service agencies.
The presumed inequity in family courts was conveyed in our recent study of the custody time awarded to fathers by courts in 14 Pennsylvania counties. In 700 of contested custody cases reviewed, mothers received 69% of custody time to 31% for fathers. Mothers received full or primary custody in 496 of the cases, fathers just 100, and shared custody in 104.
We see firsthand the devastating impacts on society and the family when children are alienated from their fathers. Decades of research show that boys (and girls) who are deprived of their fathers are more likely to experience drug and alcohol involvement, truancy, delinquency, self-esteem issues, educational underachievement/dropping out, depression, anger and physical illness.
In general, our family courts perform dismally by applying dated approaches to complex problems, lagging decades behind the realities of modern American life and the changing family. With a large percentage of children at their disposal, the dysfunction of the courts and related agencies has become a serious national problem. The living circumstances of between one-third to one-half of U.S. children are currently determined by family courts and related agencies such as Child Protective Services and the Office of Children Support Enforcement.
Although many state laws theoretically view mothers and fathers as equals in custody disputes, fathers face bigger challenges and higher hurdles to secure equal custody time due to archaic, outmoded ways of thinking.
As divorce rates and single parent homes soar, millions of children are being deprived the benefits of the active involvement of both parents. The U.S. Census Bureau shows 24 million children in America are living in homes absent of both biological parents, most often the father.
Suzanne Venker of Fox News stated in her February 18, 2018 article about the “boy crisis” that boys are broken for one major reason: they are fatherless.
As a children’s advocacy organization, the Dads’ Resource Center seeks to eﬀect change from within these systems. We believe society, the courts, and social agencies have an obligation to ensure that dads are able to provide the time, input, emotional and financial support that their children deserve and require. The time has come to engage in a constructive, fact-based discussion about the need for true parental equality.
It’s not only time to acknowledge the boy crisis in America‒it’s past time for decisive action.