Fatherhood.gov

Deconstructing Fatherhood Propaganda

The article “Deconstructing the Essential Father” by Louise B. Silverstein and Carl F. Auerbach of Yeshiva University, was originally published in the journal American Psychologist in June 1999.

“Deconstructing the Essential Father” was written as a criticism of David Blankenhorn and David Popenoe’s work, which claimed, “fathers are essential to positive child development and that responsible fathering is most likely to occur within the context of heterosexual marriage.”

In their opening statements, Silverstein and Auerbach noted how “this perspective is generating a range of governmental initiatives designed to provide social support preferences to fathers over mothers and to heterosexual married couples over alternative family forms,” and propose that the “neoconservative position is an incorrect or oversimplified interpretation of empirical research.”

The term “essential” in “essential father” refers to the concept of essentialism, that is, the idea that there are biological sex differences between women and men that create a difference in parenting methods and emphases between the genders. Feminists believe that this concept of “separate spheres” has been discredited since the turn of the last century.”

In opposition to the neoconservative position, Silverstein and Auerbach argue that neither mothers nor fathers are essential to child development, that parenting roles are interchangeable, that the significant variables in predicting father involvement are economic rather than marital, and that responsible fathering can occur within a variety of family structures. Over the past six years, they have studied the fathering identities of men who are actively involved with their children. They used a wide range of cross-species, cross-cultural, and social science research, including their own study of 200 men, to reach these conclusions. Those 200 men were divided into 10 different subcultures with U. S. society, including Haitian Christian fathers; Promise Keeper fathers; gay fathers; Latino fathers; White, nongay divorced fathers; Modern Orthodox Jewish fathers; and Greek grandfathers. They have concluded that children need “at least one responsible, caretaking adult who has a positive emotional connection to them and with whom they have a consistent relationship.” They have also found that “the stability of the emotional connection and the predictability of the caretaking relationship are the significant variables that predict positive child adjustment.” In the end, they examine why the neoconservative perspective has become so widely accepted within popular culture. They then offer social policy recommendations that support men in their fathering role without discriminating against women and same-sex couples.

Continue Reading: http://www.xyonline.net/content/deconstructing-fatherhood-propaganda

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