Some parental rights activists are rejoicing. Psychology professor Gordon Finley, from Florida international University,
has investigated the State of Fatherhood across a sample of some 2,000 young adults and found that yes, fathers are useful. They do more than bringing the bacon at the table. Children with fathers have less risky sexual behavior and, guess what, girls need their dads.
These results don’t make me happy. Actually, they make me cry. Not that there is nothing wrong with proving the obvious; but while Professor Finley was busy refuting Maureen Dowd’s insinuation that men are useless, family laws in this country were going down the drain, separating children from their fathers, and reducing fathers to child support providers. A huge, irreparable waste of broken lives. But law makers and family courts had an excuse though: they did not know that fathers were useful. Oops!
It is quite strange that in family values country, such damages to families have occurred. How could they have been avoided? Perhaps by caring for human rights; children’s for instance. Since 1989, there is a UN convention of the rights of children, which among others, states that “States Parties shall respect the right of the child who is separated from one or both parents to maintain personal relations and direct contact with both parents on a regular basis, except if it is contrary to the child’s best interests (article 9, paragraph 1). Going through the convention, one discovers, interestingly enough, that children rights and parents rights – that of useless- or- not fathers included- are intertwined. If you alienate fathers rights, you also alienate children’s.
One of the big absent among the signatories: the US. Let’s dream. Now that the lawmakers know that fathers are useful, that might change. Also, fathers might even see the introduction of shared parenting into family laws.