FATHERLESS AMERICA by David Blankenhorn


Confronting Our Most Urgent Social Problem
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 Fatherlessness is the root of every social evil, says Blankenhorn, who calls for a return of the Good Family Man and government enforcement of the ``father role.'' According to Blankenhorn, founder of the Institute for American Values, the fact that 40 percent of America's children do not live with their biological fathers is the leading cause of crime, adolescent pregnancy, child sexual abuse, and domestic violence against women. Fathers are seen as superfluous in today's society, Blankenhorn argues, and the ``New Father'' who tries to sensitively nurture his child blurs essential gender distinctions; fathers are not able to parent in the same way as mothers, nor should they. Part of the blame for fatherlessness, of course, lies with the women's movement --although, interestingly, Blankenhorn does most of his arguing with Barbara Ehrenreich, Naomi Wolf, and others in his notes at the back of the book. Blankenhorn describes five cultural models of inadequate modern fatherhood: the Deadbeat Dad, who ``belongs in jail''; the Visiting Father, who sees his kids on weekends; the Sperm Father, for whom fatherhood is no more than ``the biological act of ejaculation''; the Stepfather; and the Nearby Guy, usually Mom's boyfriend. To reverse the trend, he calls for congressional assistance in ``creating higher standards of male responsibility,'' an annual presidential address on the State of Fatherhood, a formal ``fatherhood pledge'' to be taken by every man in the country, and a union of ``married fathers'' to transform public housing projects into ``hospitable environments.'' Blankenhorn's depiction of fatherlessness as the cause rather than a symptom of greater social ills will rankle in some quarters, and his agenda for remedying the situation will amuse more far- seeing social critics.

Pub Date: Feb. 15th, 1995
ISBN: 0-465-01483-6
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Basic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1994