“Father Knows Best,” now that is a totally radical idea to utter in 2021 even on Father’s Day.
The theme song and mid-century look of the original TV show may be a true throwback, but it also involved a literal truism.
The sitcom began in 1954 and produced 203 episodes all the way up until late 1960. Set in the Midwest, it starred handsome and debonair Robert Young as an insurance agent, Jim Anderson, a.k.a. Father. His wife Margaret, and three children rounded out the cast. Father regularly offered sage advice advising his children whenever they had a problem or just needed a helping hand. The series became so ingrained in American culture because it idealized the preservation of family life based on recognition of the valued head of the family—the father.
Fathers knew best: they were wise, authoritative, caring, loving, and essential.
But in today’s popular imagination, all that is past tense.
Why have fathers fallen so far out of favor? Will they ever make a comeback or is the era of the two-parent family, safe, stable neighborhoods, and two cars in every garage, a true has been? Should we even bother celebrating fathers at all anymore in our postmodern, hip, urban, feminized, totally woke culture? Many say we can just do without them.
The numbers do not look all that good; indeed, they are appallingly bad and getting worse.
The share of families headed by single parents in America now stands at 75 percent among African American families, 60 percent among Hispanic families, 38 percent among white families and 20 percent among Asian families. Fathers have exited.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than one-in-four children—nearly 20 million—live without a father in the home.
According to 72.2 percent of the U.S. population, fatherlessness is the most significant family or social problem facing America.
To summarize recent medical and psychological peer-reviewed literature, depression, suicide, eating disorders, obesity (and its effects), early sexual activity, addiction-formation, and difficulty building and holding on to loving relationships are all side-effects of you guessed it—an absent father.
I have written at length about the tendency to label all men as toxic.
“It’s taboo even to mention them (masculine males, that is) positively. If you did, you’d be called misogynistic, sexist, racist, homophobic, “toxic,” whatever.” That is certainly true when it comes to fathers.
Things have gotten so much worse in just a short time. Woke culture has sought to outright cancel fathers and to make them as the Brits say, “redundant.”
What are we to do? America was built by fathers, faith, and freedom. Without fathers there can be no normed families, lasting marriages, extended family relations, grounded communities, robust civic life (only “bowling alone” as Robert Putnam called it). Churches, synagogues, temples and all of organized private life that is woven into the fabric of American Greatness would cease to exist.
That is why the Left in its most progressive and Marxist elements seeks to eradicate fatherhood from existence. Karl Marx, writing on “The Abolition of the Family,” argued:
the nuclear family performs ideological functions for capitalism—the family acts as a unit of consumption and teaches passive acceptance of hierarchy. It is also the institution through which the wealthy pass down their private property to their children, thus reproducing class inequality.
He wanted it destroyed.
It has taken more than 100 years, but Marx appears to be getting his way thanks to his adherents and fellow travelers. And the starting place in that long sought for abolition is to attack the person at the center of the paradigm—the father himself (pronouns: he and him).
Doing away with fathers has been the long-standing policy of progressives, evidenced in welfare policies, food-stamp programs, housing, marriage penalties, and taxation. When you encourage and incentivize something you generally get it. When you don’t, or worse, penalize it—you destroy it.
What is the antidote to all this father hate and attacks on the institution of family life?
First, we need to completely revise all our social policies to put an end to the venom and bias against fathers. Reversing six decades of policy will not be easy, but it is necessary if we are to recover and combat the present state of affairs. Some brave conservatives in Congress should take up this cause and demand a U.S. Commission on Fatherhood with the teeth to do something.
The second possibility is to borrow an idea from our friends in Eastern Europe who suffered so long under the yoke of communism. Make the family the focal point of all policy—incentivize it and boldly reward child rearing. It can be done, just ask Viktor Orbán in Hungary.
Finally, and a bit of disclosure here, as I was chairman of this charity for some years: We need to develop Great Dads. To combat pervasive father-absence in America—both physical absence and emotional-psychological absence—we have to continually fan the flames of the fatherhood movement. This will encourage fathers to turn their hearts to their children; to make a covenant with them. We can equip fathers through practical training, supportive resources, and inspiration to make and live out life-long commitments to be better dads.
Here are three real-life examples of the program’s work.
Jorge served two tours in Afghanistan and was separated from his two teenage daughters. It wasn’t easy but using skills he learned and maintained, he was able to keep in touch with his children and honor the commitment he had made to them.
Joe rarely went to church as a single dad but took the course and made a promise he now has kept for years to be there for his three young kids. Now he even teaches the course in churches to fathers in the Midwest where he lives.
Treyvon is an incarcerated father who will remain in jail for a number of years before completing his sentence. He took the training in prison and now maintains good relations with his kids from three different marriages. They see him on visitation days, and he prays for them daily.
Say Happy Father’s Day loudly and proudly and mean it today; and then give your dads and granddads a big hug, telling them how much you appreciate them.