Society Needs To Acknowledge That Fathers Are Essential For Children

This Father's Day, the 6-year-old daughter of George Floyd has no father. She is not alone. Unfortunately, millions of children won’t see their father on Father’s Day, not only because of death but because of separation and divorce. The hearts of fathers ache when they can’t see their kids.

By Molly Olson2 min read
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Humanity cries for a solution after the tragic death of George Floyd. There’s been a drumbeat of dialogue attempting to address this senseless loss of life and the destructive riots spreading across the country. The media reports and public dialogue focus primarily on police racism.

Some black leaders have spoken up about another cause: the lack of father involvement.

Perhaps, the father factor is just getting lost in the clutter of commentary.

Family Courts Undermine Fatherhood

Black fathers love their kids as much as white fathers. Love knows no color. But black fathers are more “absent” in that community. Why? Too often, the “absence” is caused by unwarranted, court-forced fatherlessness. Unmarried black fathers in particular find their parenting is undermined in family court. This leads to hopelessness and helplessness for both black fathers and black children. And this in turn leads to a laundry list of social ills, especially violence.

Fatherlessness hurts children.

Warren Farrell, Ph.D. and John Grey in their book, The Boy Crisis, spell out the problems created by “dad-deprived” boys. And it’s not just boys, girls are impacted by lack of fathers too.

The relationship between fathers and children is a critical and undervalued asset.

Farrell explains dad-deprived children are far more likely to be: high school dropouts, victims of child abuse, participants in or victims of major violence, gang involvement, teen pregnancy, child poverty, failure to launch, and domestic violence. Almost all these issues played a part in the story of George Floyd. Additionally, Farrell reports that dads tend to enforce boundaries. Boundaries create empathy. Empathy reduces violence. Research is undisputed: kids of all ages have better social and emotional skills in father-present homes.

Perhaps, if we confront fatherlessness, it would open the door and force exposure of the truth: Family court is perceived to be as destructively biased against fathers and children as the police force is perceived to be biased against black men and boys. Perhaps the legislature has let the fox guard the henhouse in both areas for far too long, abdicating public safety.

Society Needs To Pay Attention to the Father Factor If It Wants To Heal

Black leaders, influencers, activists, and political and social commentators on both the Right and the Left agree: Fathers need to be part of the solution.

The politically conservative have addressed fatherlessness in the wake of George Floyd. Both civil rights activist Robert L. Woodson Sr. and nationally known author Larry Elder have said, in the wake of the George Floyd murder and riots, that the black community needs greater father involvement. Elder stated, "Fathers matter. Until we have a government policy that makes that its first priority, nothing will change."

"What makes you a man is not the ability to make a child; it's the courage to raise one." — Barack Obama

The political left is also aware of the problem with fatherlessness. Former President Barack Obama has been an outspoken supporter of father involvement, stating on several different occasions that fathers are vital to their children’s lives. Obama said,  "What makes you a man is not the ability to make a child; it's the courage to raise one." Rapper Tupac Shakur once stated, "Your mother cannot calm you down the way a man can...You need a man to teach you how to be a man."

Justin Miller, the attorney for the mother of George Floyd’s daughter, said, "You can't put a value on a father…It is a priceless thing that far too many black children in this country are dealing with the loss of." 

The judicial system can honor fatherhood by allowing children access to their fit fathers.

Most people still don’t know that family court actively undermines father involvement and routinely restricts a child’s access to their fit, loving father, even when there is no proof of harm. 

Family court actively undermines father involvement and routinely restricts a child’s access to their fit, loving father.

In order for fathers to do right by their children, the judicial system and legislative policymakers need to do the right thing for kids and end the unwarranted marginalization of fathers and bias against equal parenting in family court.

Closing Thoughts

State and federal policies should look for ways to support father involvement to break the cycle of fatherlessness. Public policy should begin with a rebuttable presumption of equally shared parenting time for fit fathers who are ready, willing, and able to step up to the plate to share equally in the responsibility of parenting their children. Kids don’t need their mothers any more than they need their fathers. Legislative policy and family court practice should be doing everything in its power to promote father involvement, not prevent it.