Sent: June 18, 2001 12:16 PM
Re: The President's
Fatherhood Message: "As a society, we must support fathers in fulfilling their
responsibilities to their families" .
It is encouraging that there is a new found interest in fatherhood. However, unless the
real causes for fatherlessness are weeded out,
there can be little hope of any progress in the efforts to introduce fathers back to their
families. The current efforts are nothing more than an attempt to repair a compound
fracture with a tiny Band-aid. And we wonder why the breach does not heal.
The first step on the road to recovery is to erase the word "responsible"
from the fatherhood programs. Most fathers ARE responsible, provided they are allowed to
In every family, mothers set the tone between fathers and their children: "Just
wait till your daddy gets home". That tone can be positive or negative, but it is the
mother's voice, have no doubt about it. They are, and have always been, the
gatekeepers. Thus, they are the ones who hold the keys. What is urgently needed is to
focus our attention to "responsible motherhood".
Unfortunately, fathers have too many hurdles to cross, and mothers have had too
many hurdles removed. It is only when fathers themselves are studied that we will begin to
understand the scope of the problem of fatherlessness.
Asking mothers how they perceive the role of the fathers of their children is an exercise
All the current fatherhood programs are geared to making fathers into walking
wallets. We hear that it is in the best interests of the children to keep the custodial
parent, who usually is the mother, happy. That the children may be happy to have their
fathers present while the mothers are happiest with a signed cheque from a father who is
kept away somehow seems to contradict the "happy mother-happy children"
hypothesis. We equate step-fathers, "big sisters", "big brothers" and
other "male stimuli" with natural fathers. It is not uncommon to hear
that they are better role models to the children. If we want to be honest, the popularity
of these outsiders could be explained that these "role models" do not challenge
the mother's decision making nor do they compete with her for the children's affection.
Mothers have truly become empowered, to the detriment of their children.
We need to remove all the inducements that the current system provides for single
motherhood, irrespective of socio-economic standing. Middle and upper class women
routinely get awarded child and spousal support far in excess of the need of the children,
or what the mothers would be able to earn themselves in the open labour market. This is
based on the somewhat skewed reasoning that if the fathers supported the family at a
certain level while the family was intact, they are obligated to do so even after the
The more responsible the man has been, the more severe the penalty, as is
illustrated by this Ontario (Canada) Court of Appeal Judgement: Adams .v.
Adams. DATE: 20010430. DOCKET: C33776
support payments should be $5,000 per month as this amount more properly reflects the
STANDARD OF LIFE THAT MRS. ADAMS WAS ACCUSTOMED TO DURING THE MARRIAGE .
The trial judge rejected Dr. Adams
submissions on the issue that he had made mortgage payments over and above the require
Dr. Adams voluntarily made prepayments on the mortgage and thereby
voluntarily accrued a benefit to his wife.
Indeed, Dr. Adams concluded his testimony at the
trial on this issue by saying that he agreed with Mrs. Adams counsel 'that the
primary reason was to provide a roof over the heads of my family'.
"In summary, I do not see any reason to interfere with the trial judges
decision to set spousal support payments at $5000 monthly. This allocation is not
"unreasonable or outside an acceptable range", viewed either in isolation
considering Mrs. Adams history and current circumstances, or in conjunction with
child support payments of $6474 monthly" ... The trial judge also ordered Dr. Adams
to maintain sufficient disability and life insurance to fund his child and spousal support
In the above case, the wife was
a qualified nurse, the husband a successful surgeon. The children were over the age
where they would need the mother at home as a full-time caregiver. Considering the
shortage of nurses, she would have no difficulty in finding employment in her chosen
career, a choice that she had made prior to meeting her future husband.
That she greatly benefited from the
marriage is abundantly clear. If one compares her standard of living during the marriage,
provided by her husband, she clearly would have lost when she decided to
separate from him had he not have been ordered to continue to support her at her
"accustomed level" though she herself had not contributed to this standard. Yet,
he was ordered to "compensate her", though by any logic she would have been the
one to compensate him for the breach of promise and the expenses that he had incurred on
her behalf. It is hardly conceivable that she would have performed many household duties
without paid help. Thus her contribution would have been only to provide companionship and
comfort during the marriage.
Unfortunately, this is the rule rather
than the exception all across North America and the entire Western World. It is a wonder
that fathers and husbands still continue to provide all that they can, often at a
tremendous personal sacrifice.
Looking at a different level of social
strata: women and teenage girls living in poverty are told that they will be provided
welfare, free accommodation and support if they become mothers. If they can pinpoint who
the father(s) of their child(ren) is/are he/they will be ordered to pay child support,
provided he/they is/are gainfully employed. Thus, the emphasis by the government is to
provide education and employment for fathers so that the state can reduce its welfare
Why should these women try to get
out of the ever escalating spiral of poverty, the only lifestyle that they know
about, as long as there is someone else who will provide them with the basic necessities?
To have a child is to have a meal ticket. To have several children, sired by several men,
means to have several meal tickets. That is the only math that we are teaching our girls,
no matter what their social standing. Women are the universal victims, incapable of
fending for themselves. Or incapable of wanting to fend for themselves.
When you are a teenager living in
poverty, you only think of immediate gratification, which is to get off the streets
or away from an abusive, often single, parent. Or bored with school. Or unable to decide
what to do for the rest of your life. Or ... No matter what, the system will take care of
your needs if you become a mother.
The result? Abused children, when the young
mothers are unable to cope with parenthood. Knowing nothing better, these children in turn
will become abusive parents, and the spiral continues, unabated.
It is a shame that rather than paying
tribute to the millions of fathers who have been forced out of the lives of their children
whom they valiantly support, the president chose to insult all fathers by lecturing
them about their "responsibilities". Will he tell mothers next May that
they, too, are responsible?