Carol Sarler: Of course children don’t need fathers

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ruth Deech was in sprightly flow on the Today programme on Monday morning: “It is an issue of principle,” the former chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority insisted, “that both sexes have a part to play in the bringing-up of children.” Not that she was fighting a lonely corner. The proposal before the House of Lords this week — that not only should IVF clinics be relieved of their obligation to ensure that there are fathers for the babies they create, but that lesbians be able to register their partner's name as co-parent — has outraged many vocal opponents.

Such a change in the law, says Iain Duncan Smith, would “drive the final nail into the coffin of the traditional family”. Because? “Research shows,” says Baroness Deech (she didn't say which research), “that there is a distinct contribution to the upbringing of children made by fathers.” Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, in a letter to this newspaper, placed a father within “the natural rights of the child”, while the commentator Melanie Phillips is adamant: “What we know beyond a shadow of a doubt is that children need their fathers.”

Really? Why? What for? And when did anybody last even ask? It might be very nice indeed for a child to have a dad around the house — provided, naturally, that he's the proper kind: the devoted, sober, gentle giant much given to manly rites of passage like the proud purchase of a brace of season tickets to Arsenal. But nice is not the same as need and certainly not as “rights”; further, if the hands-on presence of a father were actually so imperative, our species would have died out in the primordial swamp.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

13 Comments
Posted November 25, 2007 at 4:23 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) wrote:

Yup. Don’t need fathers. That’s why the formerly-strong black family in America is in tatters as a direct result of ‘60s and ‘70s “anti-poverty” programs that cut benefits if there was a man anywhere in the picture.

That’s why an overwhelming percentage of blacks in prison never had a man in the home. Never needed him, I guess. That way we can blame the huge disproportion of blacks in prison on “racism.” Nothing to do with a father. Move along, please. Nothing to see here.

November 25, 5:56 pm | [comment link]
2. DonGander wrote:

I am thankful that God gave me an earthly father. Besides providing for me and the rest of the house, he taught me to honor my mother; to be gentle with the weak, to measure my strength. My father taught me that when drunken bums cut the telephone line and then came to the door and try to get in, it is the father who meets them. My father taught me that finances were a tool in life and how to use it. My father taught me how stand firm for God when it seems the whole world was going the other way. My father knew my strengths and weaknesses and steered me on a course that would keep life good for many, many years.

Though my mother taught me many things, she could not teach me the things that my father could best teach in a way that kept my respect. I thank God for my earthly father.

I have a similar speech for my mother but, I guess, that would not be germane to the topic at hand.

November 25, 5:59 pm | [comment link]
3. Larry Morse wrote:

Sometimes I think Kendall posts things like thise merely because they are an irritation. This essay obviously has nothing t o recommend it,        esp. has it no evidence to recommend it, since the research in this country over and over shows that a father is essential. And indeed, if a father were inessential, then evolution would never have undertaken to allow its existence, since fatherhood would have no survival value. Mere insemination is not sufficient. If it were the case and all other forms of fatherhood non essential, then evolution would have chosen some other path, there being a number to chose from in the natural world.
  This essay is without substance; it is here, it would seem merely pour epater le bourgeois, and belongs in the same class as whatshername, the Harry Potter author, with her latest revelation.  LM

November 25, 6:36 pm | [comment link]
4. Jeffersonian wrote:

“From the wild Irish slums of the 19th century Eastern seaboard, to the riot-torn suburbs of Los Angeles, there is one unmistakable lesson in American history; a community that allows a large number of men to grow up in broken families, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority, never acquiring any set of rational expectations about the future—that community asks for and gets chaos. Crime, violence, unrest, disorder—most particularly the furious, unrestrained lashing out at the whole social structure—that is not only to be expected; it is very near to inevitable. And it is richly deserved.”

Daniel Patrick Moynihan
The Negro Family: The Case for National Action, 1965

His prediction, obviously, came true.

November 25, 7:19 pm | [comment link]
5. deaconjohn25 wrote:

For almost 40 years I taught in an inner city high school. And—sorry for the invective—people who think children don’t need a father are morons, nincompoops, and totally deranged—like our increasingly dysfunctional society. You want to go through school records to find who are the very worst behaved students—male or female—look for the students without a father in the home. You want to find the students who are failing and academically inept—male or female—-go through the school records and look for those without a father in the home. In fact, the situation is so bad that most of those who have spent many years with young people know that those who say children do not need a father are not only grossly wrong, but destructive and supremely evil for supporting what is a form of child abuse. Yes, there are children who have escaped the worst traumas and negative effects of a father being absent from the home. But they were forced to climb a Mount Everest put in their path by callous, heartless people—many masquerading as “experts.”
Yet repeated reputable surveys show that virtually all those who escape the worst pathological effects of a fatherless home NEVER totally get over the absence as far as many social, psychological, emotional, and intellectual factors go. In fact the situation is so bad that many of the first researchers in this area were surprised and shocked at the long-term devastating effects a “broken”  or “abnormal” home situation has on a person. They had expected to find that by well into adulthood those abused by not having a father in the home would have finally gotten over the situation’s worst effects. BUT NOT SO!

November 25, 7:58 pm | [comment link]
6. Kendall Harmon wrote:

Larry, I am not interested in irritation, I posted it as one example from this week of the reaction to the Murphy-O’Connor letter I posted immediately before it.

November 25, 8:26 pm | [comment link]
7. Barry wrote:

Dads are IMPORTANT!  I can personally attest to that since mine died when I was five.  My mother remarried when I was twelve to a man 46 years my senior.  Talk about a lack of empathy.  My stepdad’s children were in their twenties when he and mom got married.  It took me years to come to grips with loss of a real ‘father figure’ in my life.  I truly worked extremely hard when rearing my two children.  They are both grown (31 & 35), but we have a wonderful relationship.  And yet there is a giant ‘hole’ in my heart where my dad should have been.  HURRAH for involved dads everywhere.  God bless you gentlemen!

November 25, 10:01 pm | [comment link]
8. Wilfred wrote:

It is a sad illustration of the idiocy of the age in which we live, that Tony Blair was afraid of being considered a “nutter” for being a Christian, while the authoress of this lunatic commentary will no doubt be considered sagacious.

November 25, 10:04 pm | [comment link]
9. Albany* wrote:

It was a matter of speculation how long it would take for the real- men cultural support following 9/11 to fold back into this feminist cultural default position. You see, when things are real—like going in burning buildings and so on, male value cannot be denied. When we fall back into softness and unreality, we get the feminist silliness again.

As for Tony Blair’s deep Christianity, it is clear on reflection that his kindness to Brown could only be accounted for in those terms.

November 25, 11:22 pm | [comment link]
10. Irenaeus wrote:

“If the hands-on presence of a father were actually so imperative, our species would have died out in the primordial swamp”—-Carol Sarler

Elemental survival requires very few things: food, water, shelter, and defense against deadly predators. I’d challenge Carol Sarler to subsist on those things alone: perhaps in a dark, cozy solitary confinement cell in which she saw no light and heard no voice for a year. Bare elemental survival is not enough for a full-orbed human life.

November 26, 12:55 pm | [comment link]
11. Bill Matz wrote:

Of vital interest to all of us is the Swiss study that showed that fathers were far more influential in the long-term spiritual development of their children. Could there be a correlation between the increasing feminization of TEC and the decreasing retention of our youth?

November 26, 9:13 pm | [comment link]
12. deaconjohn25 wrote:

Bill M.—I have also seen studies that show children will usually adopt the religion of their father—even girls—whether the father practices his faith at all. I know that in my case I could have followed my Methodist mother’s faith or my Catholic father’s faith. Now I am an ordained permanent deacon in the Catholic Church. However, there is another problem—some studies show that children of “mixed” Christian marriages usually wind up “hanging loose” from any religion—even if they technically adopt their father’s faith. So I gather my situation is rare. I should be a loosely affiliated Catholic, I guess.

November 27, 6:43 pm | [comment link]
13. awakened wrote:

Deaconjohn25:  I “lived” the situation described in your first paragraph of #5.  I have 3 girls and I know I would do anything in my power to protect and nurture them (because I have) because it is a “selfless” love.  The thing I do not understand or as you so nicely put it (have not gotten over) is why my father did not love me as I love my own children.  Was he just a selfish man or spiritually weak?  Probably a little of both… to quote him “outta sight outta mind”, (that took a long time to understand).

However, I fully agree that every child deserves a man worthy of taking care of them, by worthy I mean spiritually- a spiritual man will protect and honor his family.  As far as the topic of divorce and remarriage goes- I believe God loves His children and wants the best for them.  So, I ask one (& directly to the person who posted something about a mortal hippie dude) where would you be without the guidance and love of OUR HEAVENLY FATHER?  My guess- is that you’re probably against the remarriage of one who is divorced (even if children are involved & the dad is not).  So my question is this.  Since Adam and Eve were created by God to take care of His creation, to populate the earth, and to have a relationship with Him, are we all illegitimate children since there was no one else on earth to bless their union?  Or is it the reason why a marriage is not valid until two bodies become one flesh, spiritually.  Though probably misguided in my understanding, I believe that is the way God intended it to be- unfortunately, sin was bestowed upon mankind. So I guess it’s better to just live together, never marry “symbolically” in a church and engage in a spiritually recognized marriage where the children are legitimate. Either that or remain a catholic b/c annulments are allowed, (a voided marriage) - yet the children are legitimate… hhmmm.

November 28, 2:14 pm | [comment link]
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