No Country for Fatherless Men

Mary Eberstadt did a stellar job last week writing for First Things on fatherlessness. She lays out her reasons for believing that the absence of a father in so many homes is the cause behind the instability seen in our cities. While folks on the left will dismiss this as a conservative beat-up, Eberstadt sees a clear throughline from dads who are MIA and societal dysfunction, be it Antifa or White nationalists. 

Eberstadt writes that “six decades of social science have established that the most efficient way to increase dysfunction is to increase fatherlessness. And this the United States has done, for two generations now. Almost one in four children today grows up without a father in the home. For African Americans, it is some 65 percent of children.”

Eberstadt goes on to list famous writers and activists who are victims of fatherlessness, particularly those currently agitating for “anti-racism” movements . Identity politics has been “shot through” with the disappearance of paternal authority from the beginning, as Eberstadt observes. Unsurprisingly, the now infamous statement from the Black Lives Matter website, declaring their intention to “disrupt the Western-­prescribed nuclear family structure” never mentions fathers, as if it were a given that fatherhood is a non-essential part of family formation. 

Apart from the unrest created by fatherlessness, Eberstadt argues that this is the cause of the growth of the “nones” – those that claim no religious affiliation. Churches have been a place in America that connected different generations. But with the decline in church attendance, younger ones lose the benefit of the influence of people who’ve lived longer than they have. In addition, how do you relate to a good heavenly Father when you never knew an earthly one? Eberstadt points to the theory of sociologist Paul Vitz, – anger at “defective fatherhood” translates to anger at God. 

Eberstadt’s third argument is that fatherlessness leads to detachment from your country. Growing up with an intact family is first-hand experience with a source of authority. For a child, family members are “people from whom he could learn, with whom he could connect and network, and through whom he could learn commitments and make common cause.” A child growing up without a dad automatically has less family members to influence him, not only his father but also his father’s side of the family.

To Eberstadt this volatility manifests as hatred of America. It is why protestors “tear down statues not only of Confederates, but of Founding Fathers and town fathers and city fathers and anything else that looks like a father, period… It is why bands of what might be called “chosen protest families” disrupt actual family meals. It is why BLM disrupts bedroom communities late at night, where real, non-chosen families are otherwise at peace.”

Being without a dad seems to affect boys and girls differently but the longing for a father does not diminish, just because the white noise says the “kids are okay.” 

So, we need to ask our Heavenly Father for wisdom, and then look around. There may be things you can do right where you are to disrupt the cycle, to advocate for fathers, encourage moms raising kids on their own and find the lost boys who need to find “father, Father and patria”.