The Progressive War Against Fatherhood, Marriage And Family

News Image By Delano Squires/Daily Signal June 17, 2023
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Father's Day is a good time to reflect on the importance of dads. It is also an opportunity to bring attention to how fatherhood, marriage, and family became divisive, partisan political issues to the progressive Left.

As a candidate and president, Barack Obama talked often about the importance of fatherhood, marriage, and family. A speech he gave in Chicago a decade ago about violent crime included one observation few elected Democrats today would repeat publicly:

There's no more important ingredient for success, nothing that would be more important for us reducing violence, than strong, stable families--which means we should do more to promote marriage and encourage fatherhood.

As was often the case, the loudest criticism Obama received for elevating fathers came from his progressive supporters. The rest of the party took notice. Democrats removed all references to fatherhood from their 2016 and 2020 party platforms.

Progressives avoid public debate about marriage and fatherhood because they believe social outcomes are mainly driven by public policy and systemic forces, not individual decisions.

This is why Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was criticized for signing a bill in April that will provide $70 million for programs to promote responsible fatherhood.

He was not alone in taking the heat. Tony Dungy, a Hall of Fame NFL coach and pro-family advocate, had to defend himself for simply appearing with the governor at the event announcing the new law. Dungy quoted Obama's claim that children who grow up without a dad are more likely to live in poverty, commit crime, drop out of school, and go to prison.

It shouldn't be this way. Elected Democrats often acknowledge the value of family in their own lives. They know that marriage comes before "carriage." There is a reason the "Who's Your Daddy?" DNA-testing truck drives around the South Bronx but not Martha's Vineyard.

But many Democrats fail to acknowledge these truths--or even outright reject them--when it comes to making public policy.

Thankfully, groups like Fathers Incorporated are doing their part to help men from all walks of life become better dads. They organize diaper drives for low-income men, encourage fathers to read to their children, and teach men how to be better parents and partners.

These types of programs are needed because children have a right to the love and support of the men and women who created them. The best context for that to take place is when men and women commit to one another in marriage and work together to raise their children in loving, stable homes.

Some people would point to the rise in cohabitation of unmarried couples who have children together and suggest that couples today are providing those loving, stable homes. In 1968, cohabitation was virtually nonexistent. The trend has changed since then. In 1997, 20% of unmarried parents living with a child were cohabiting. By 2017, it was 35%.

Unfortunately, studies show two-thirds of cohabiting parents split before their child turns 12, compared to 25% of married couples. A frequently cited Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study on father involvement found that only 8% of fathers who lived apart from their young children ate with them every day, while 43% said they didn't eat with their kids at all. By contrast, 72% of dads who lived with their children ate meals with them every day.

Combining research on cohabitation and fathers proves it is virtually impossible to encourage responsible fatherhood without talking about marriage.

One tangible way to put marriage and "carriage" in their proper order is by promoting the "success sequence." Research shows 97% of millennials born between 1980 and 1984 who finish school, secure employment, and marry before having children (the success sequence) are not poor by their mid-30s. Those goals are tangible, achievable, and measurable.

Fathers matter--whatever their color, religion, or political views. That's why defending marriage and family shouldn't be a partisan matter.

Conservatives need to continue to promote the view that children have the best social and emotional outcomes when they are raised in a home with a married mother and father. The progressives who follow that life script in their personal lives but ignore it when it comes to public policy, need to start preaching what they practice.

Originally published at The Daily Signal - reposted with permission.

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