Daddy-bashing is Suddenly Cool! What Should Dads Do?

Daddy-bashing is suddenly cool. The cover story of the latest Atlantic proclaims “The End of Men: How Women Are Taking Control — of Everything,” while inside the magazine Pamela Paul poses the emasculating question, “Are Fathers Necessary?” Her answer, after sifting through the research: probably not. Social scientists have been unable to prove that dads contribute much, she reports. The effort and quality of parenting are what really matter, not parents’ gender.

“The bad news for Dad is that despite common perception, there’s nothing objectively essential about his contribution,” concludes Paul, the author of “Parenting, Inc.”

The bad-dad rap doesn’t stop there. A 20-year study of lesbian parents in the journal Pediatrics concludes that teenagers raised by two mothers (read: no dad) had better grades and fewer social problems than other teens. The study’s co-author, Nanette Gartrell of the University of California at Los Angeles, explained the difference by saying that lesbian mothers are more committed to child-rearing than heterosexual parents.

So what’s a beleaguered dad to do? If science can’t prove that we matter, does that mean we don’t?

Read my full articles in The Washington Post.

  • Robert
    Posted at 08:47h, 19 June

    Thanks for your Washington Post article. I too have become more and more sensitive to the gender biases of late. For example, a cursory look at any TV commercial that portrays a father demonstrates the same caricature: a bumbling idiot of a man that serves as the proverbial punchline.

    I am proud to say that in the raising of our three children, there’s nothing my wife can do that I can’t, won’t, or don’t. And the shocking thing is, that fact bewilders many people we come in contact with.

    It’s a sad state of affairs, and we men really do need to stand up for ourselves. Thank you for being one such very public voice!

  • Seth
    Posted at 09:57h, 19 June

    Are fathers necessary? Hmmmm. For what?

    My five-year-old girl has been a daddy’s girl pretty much from the age of one, when she stopped breastfeeding. She would point to things everywhere and say “Daddy’s.” Apparently, I own most of the aircraft on the tarmac at Chicago O’Hare.

    Her mother and I are a great team. Mom makes the trains run on time, Dad listens to what our daughter is feeling as well as what she is saying. Is that because of my gender? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe it’s easier for her to be close to me without feeling smothered. Maybe I’m just a good listener with fewer expectations of her.

    I have observed at preschool that from a pretty early age, boys and girls are different. So having two perspectives in the house would be a plus, other things being equal. I’m pretty sure that love is the most important thing, though, followed closely by respect for the child as an individual with her own soul and her own will. Some people are better at that than others, and I doubt gender has much to do with it.

    What I do know is that I’m the center of her little world. And, like you, not being there for my daughter is the only thing I really dread. When I get nervous about an upcoming airplane flight for a business trip, she’s the reason. If it were just me, I could say, “Whatever happens, happens.” But I have someone I really need to come home to. Someone whose whole world would be shattered if I didn’t make it.

    I’m glad you wrote the book. I’ll have to pick up a copy. And I hope you’ll have the chance to walk each of your daughters down the aisle.

  • bruce feiler | Mp3mazaa
    Posted at 05:05h, 20 June

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  • Jackie Warwick UK
    Posted at 05:43h, 20 June

    Daddy bashing is not a good idea. I am so pleased I have my Dad and my Mum and they just coming up to celebrating 50 years of marriage. The world might just be a better place with more parents being together. Children need Dad’s, active Dad’s not just a name or an empty name on a birth certificate.

  • Eleni
    Posted at 09:07h, 21 June

    Happy father’s day! Please allow my comment. I get very angry with those strange women (OK, Not Politically Correct, but correct just the same.) They are NOT lesbians! My father and his father are lesbians (from the island of Lesbos–about 5 miles off the northern coast of Turkey) My people are good and faithful Christians, having suffered over 4 centuries of religous persecution under the hands of muslim conquerers. Only to have these disgusting women to take the name of my fathers and drag it through the dirt. My father was a loving father, who taught me and my siblings of the world and the Lord that all TRUE Lesbians honor to serve. — My prayers are for you and all the dear Fathers who try to raise their children against the scorns of the world.

  • Cathy Heffner
    Posted at 19:27h, 19 July

    I’m sorry to be sexist (not to you Bruce, but to fellow women), but the first thing jumping out at me is that both of your experts were women. I’m going to have to find these articles to if the data might be biased. I remember hearing on NPR several years ago a piece made by teenagers around Father’s Day, and the sense that even though some of their lives were good, the lack of a father was painful.

    My dad taught me how to grow vegetables; how to drive; how to be dependable; by example what it meant to be responsible to a job and for a family; and he had dirty sock fights with me and my 3 siblings after he came home from working all day (we had to stop when we started hitting the lamps). I lost him 2 years ago, I’m 55 years old, and I miss him every day. He was far from perfect, but none of us kids did drugs, we are all good citizens, and we don’t fight with one another because Daddy (Mom too) was involved in our lives, didn’t just finance them. There is something about these studies that just does not ring true.

  • Scott B
    Posted at 19:40h, 17 May


    Daddy Bashing has been going on for much longer. Think “The Roseanne Show”, “Home Improvement” w/ Tim Allen, even on “Family Ties” with the sensitive father, and the kids constantly back talking, fatherhood is being greatly dimished, even in the Church.

    I am tired of every kids movie, and even many adult movies, where the main comedy, revolves around a boy or man getting kicked in the groin. Ultimately, men are losing their respect in the media, and everytime I am with my kids, I explain the importance of what it means to be boy and to become a man. Kicking another boy in the groin doesn’t make you a man, it’s an easy way out of a fight. Though, I also teach my kids to avoid fighting as well.

    I can’t say that I am a stronger man because I had a strong father, but what I will say is that he taught me responsibilty and what it means to be a man and accept responsibility for myself and to my family.