A paper by Louise B. Silverstein, Ph.D.and Carl F. Auerbach,
Ph.D., was introduced 1999 07 14 by Ferrel Christensen, Ph.D., to the
discussion forum EPOC NEWS of Equal Parents of Canada, with the comment:
As that was the extent of Ferrel Christensens's covering
note with which he forwarded the full article, I had no idea that the paper
had appeared in the June 1999 issue of American Psychologist,
published by the American Psychological Association. A search for the
paper on the Internet provided some information that I thought would
interest many people. That information is incorporated into the
response I posted to the EPOC NEWS list on 1999 07 14.
Of course not. It is a fairly new paper that is
being promoted by pro-feminists. For instance, the only reference to
it that can be found through AltaVista is at
for a workshop called "Gendering Men: Womens Worlds 1999
-- Masculinity and mens studies workshops," in Norway, initiated by
pro-feminist Michael Kimmel (I wonder if Martin Dufresne was there) with
the paper having been announced under the heading:
"Loise Silverstein: Deconstructing the Essential Father.
Possibly: Do Promise Keepers Dream of Feminist Sheep?"
The work shop was to have taken place in the context of
"The 7th International Interdisciplinary Congress on Women, Tromsø,
Norway, 20-26 June 1999."
The platform of IASOM, the owner of the web site at which
the workshop was announced, states:
"(1) The goal of The International Association for Studies
of Men (IASOM) is to promote international cooperation and development of
studies of men, based on profeminist, gayaffirmative and antiracist
principles, and to enhance the critical depth, variety and methodological
and theoretical development of this field."
All of that explains much about the tone of the paper:
Deconstructing the Essential Father
Louise B. Silverstein, Ph.D.and Carl F. Auerbach, Ph.D.
"...The current article proposes that the
neoconservative position is an incorrect or oversimplified
interpretation of empirical research. Using a wide range of
cross-species, cross-cultural, and social science research, the authors
argue that neither mothers nor fathers are essential to child
development, and that responsible fathering can occur within a variety
of family structures. The article concludes with alternative
recommendations for encouraging responsible fathering that do not
discriminate against mothers and diverse family forms. ..."
Of course responsible fathering can occur within a variety
of family structures, but the statement is more than a bit of a red
herring. It's a commonly used trick to pull the wool over people's
eyes. It's not too surprising that the statement is found in a report that
appears to be the result of advocacy research. The authors' report
isn't only an attempt at "Deconstructing the Essential Father," it is
attempting to deconstruct the essential traditional heterosexual family.
The real issue is to what extent good responsible
fathering occurs in various "family structures." We know for example
that about 1% of all North American children grow up in foster care and
that, although many children growing up in foster care turn out all right,
between 60 to 70% of prison inmates left government-sponsored foster care
at the time they were eighteen. They were placed in foster care
mostly on account of the absence of natural fathers.
We also know that a very large proportion of children in
foster care arrived there straight from single-mothers' homes, again, on
account of the absence of natural fathers.
Furthermore, we know that one sixth of the Canadian
single-mother families with children aged 11 or younger, although most of
their children do all right, produce more than one third of Canadian
children in that age group with social mal-adjustments -- on account of
the absence of natural fathers.
We also know that on average the best parents by far,
fathers included, originate from and receive their upbringing in
functioning families headed by two married, biological parents. Not
only that, but we know that these well-brought-up parents are the least
likely to cause their own children to grow up
fatherless. They are far less likely to become divorced.
In addition, we know that these good results are even more pronounced in
parents who received a religious upbringing and who themselves lead
A number of researchers demonstrated that these facts hold
true even when comparisons of "family structures" are controlled for
family income and other factors. Moreover, there is at least one
study (from New Zealand) that demonstrated that it is the presence of both
biological parents that determines a good outcome in children, because
adoptive children -- even those with *two* adoptive parents -- exhibit
pathologies to an extent identical to that exhibited by children from
It is a bit difficult to get around all of these facts.
That could well be the reason why the authors of the report ignored them
in their discussion. It isn't likely that it was done out of
ignorance of the facts. Besides, the Yeshiva University isn't
exactly renowned for promoting the advantages of two-parent families
headed by heterosexual, married, biological parents.
I won't bother to cite the sources of all of the facts I
mentioned, because it seems to me that everyone on this list is familiar
with them. If necessary, the sources can be found via the table of
contents at .
It is intriguing that in their criticism directed at
Blankenhorn and Popenoe the authors of "Deconstructing the Essential
Father" identify family violence (see
on violent women) as something that happens solely to women
and imply that most of that violence occurs in intact families. What
their view ignores is that children comprise by far the largest group of
family-violence victims, many times larger than the group of women who
become victims of family violence, and that women themselves, especially
single mothers, are most likely by far to injure and murder children. (See
on violent women)
However, the authors' report also ignores that men become increasingly the
victims of family violence to a larger extent than women are, before,
during and after marriage and that most of the severe violence against
women happens after separation and divorce. In fact, a heterosexual,
married family is on average by far the safest place of all for women to
be, with the highest rate of family violence being experienced by lesbian
What is most interesting of all in the authors' criticism
of Blankenhorn and Popenoe is that especially Popenoe identified that
current divorce rates are the best predictors of future youth criminality
trends, with each increase in the divorce rate causing a somewhat larger
future corresponding increase in youth criminality, and that the authors
didn't touch that at all.
Moreover the "Gendering Men" workshop too dealt with
issues of the pain of men and the causes of their violence, but didn't
have anything scheduled about the violence of women. I wonder if
there was anything within the scope of the "Congress on Women" that dealt
with that issue. I guess that there wasn't. It's not a popular
subject of discussion in those circles. After all, they are the ones
who keep up the hype about the violence of men even more than their
Advocacy research? You bet! But Drs.
Silverstein and Auerbach didn't make a good job of it.
PS. The authors extensively use the term neoconservatism
and its derivatives.
American conservatism, neo or otherwise,
in fact represents the older classical liberal tradition.
Robert H. Bork, Slouching Towards Gomorrah, p. 65
It follows that "neoconservative" views were politically
correct until just a short time ago, even in the eyes of the APA. Not
only that, in the minds of all but a very small extremist minority,
conservative views bestowed a sign of respectability on the person who held
them. It appears that liberal extremists don't only want to remove all
traces of traditional moral standards in society, but also all signs of
respectability. What better way than to simply write off all criticism
of their agenda as a right-wing conspiracy by neoconservatives?
Walter H. Schneider