Repairing Relationships

Building intimacy and joy into your relationships

Is Fatherlessness the No. 1 Issue Facing America In 2014?

Can our fatherless president lead us back to two parent families?

In a bipartisan act this week, President Barack Obama's top advisor, Valerie Jarrett, appeared on The O'Reilly Factor on Fox News Channel to talk about the problem of fatherlessness in America. Warren Farrell, author of "Father and Child Reunion" is leading a commission that has asked President Obama to create a White House Council on Boys and Men.The government -- and society as a whole -- has an obligation to deal with poverty, particularly poverty that is deep-rooted. Not just in the inner cities but in rural communities all across America. But we also have to recognize there's a particular problem when more than half of African American children are growing up without a father in the house, and oftentimes not even knowing their father."

Added the future president, who himself grew up with only meeting his father two times: "That's a problem, and I won't back up one bit in asserting that is a problem that we have to be honest about."

So often discussion gets shortcircuited by the blame game. But Warren Farrell says, "None of this implies that men are better as dads than women are as moms." A commission to promote two parent families does not diminish the hard work single moms are doing. None of this blames dads who are often marginalized by antiquainted alimony and child custody laws and feel pushed away from being part of their kids life.

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Barack Obama grew up without a father and became president. But he wrote of the gaping wound he felt his whole life in his autobiographical book "Dreams From My Father." He has spoken of how he has devoted himself to be the father to his two daughters that he never was able to enjoy himself. He personally knows how important that issue is, and how it affects everyone no matter what your political persuasion. What is important is calling a truce between moms and dads, Democrats and Republicans and Libertarians, and focussing on what scholar Elaine C. Karmarck and Third Way president Jonathan Cowan found in their report Wayward Son: "There is a great deal of evidence that chidren from single parent homes have worse outcomes on both academic and economic measures that children from two parent families. There is a vast inequality of both financial resources and parental time and attention between one- and two- parent families." Let us devote the best and the brightest to solving the problem of the disintegratioin of the American family.

J.R. Bruns, M.D., is co-author of The Tiger Woods Syndrome, a book about repairing relationships.

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