Reflections On Fatherhood -- By: David Wegener

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 03:3 (Fall 1998)
Article: Reflections On Fatherhood
Author: David Wegener

Reflections On Fatherhood

David Wegener

Blankenhorn’s Fatherless America: Excellent Analysis, Yet Lacks Biblically Based Solutions

Fatherhood in America is in trouble. David Blankenhorn, in his book, Fatherless America, has dissected the crisis, pointing to several critical problems. More and more children are now being brought up in homes where the father is absent. Many doubt the traditional roles of fathers. Some are even asking if fathers are really necessary.

Blankenhorn has developed a typology to describe our situation. The deadbeat dad doesn’t pay his child support. He is a bad guy, a criminal who belongs in jail. The key issue here is not father absence, but money absence. His fatherhood is measured in dollars.

The visiting father is a shadow dad. He has left the home but he still stops by. He is a visitor: part father and part stranger. He pays his child support. He causes no trouble. He loves his kids. He wants to be a good father, but he’s not around. He has been, in a sense, de-fathered. The fatherhood of the sperm father is completely biological. He is a one-act dad, who leaves no footprints and casts no shadow. He never shows up. He is the perfect father for those who think “that men in families are either unnecessary or part of the problem.”1

The stepfather and the nearby guy are both different and similar. The stepfather is married to the mother. Thus, his commitment to her and her children goes a bit deeper than that of the nearby guy, who might be her boyfriend, a Little League coach or a Sunday school teacher. Yet both the stepfather and the nearby guy are substitute fathers. Biology plays no part here. Paternity is proximity. They fill the fatherhood vacuum created by deadbeat dads, visiting fathers and sperm fathers.2

These problems have led some to ask whether or not fathers are really necessary. They make so many mistakes; maybe their families would be better off without them. Clearly, we cannot go back to the model of the old father. He was a mean dictator with fangs, a controller. He yelled. He wielded authority. We can do without him. If fathers are to be retained at all, they must embrace the model of the new father. He “is nurturing. He expresses his emotions. He is a healer, a companion, a colleague. He is a deeply involved parent. He changes diapers.”3

He may or may not be the primary breadwinner in the family, but that doesn’t matter. He has moved beyond this and other arbitrary role distinctions based on gender. He is a really good guy, to the extent ...

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