Warren Farrell: What Prevents Dads from Being Involved?

If I could compel everyone to read something, I’d compel them to read this. -Male Matters

By Warren Farrell | Chapter 4 of his book Father and Child Reunion

On one level, father involvement is the quietest revolution. On another, its quietness has prevented a revolution.

Dads were quieted by thousands of years of being selected based on their willingness to die on behalf of others, but not cry on behalf of themselves. Spies are taught to self-destruct before they self-reveal. All this makes for a pretty quiet revolution. A self-help book that reaches out to Dads often watches Dad commit suicide before he walks down the self-help aisle.

Only dads themselves can lead the charge to change this, but the process will be slow, because dads are usually selected by women who are choosing men who will earn enough income to create options for the woman, not for themselves. Men are reluctant to change what they think brings them love. Nevertheless women also want men’s love. So men’s first confrontation is learning more about how to love, so women will value men’s love more.

Men’s second barrier is comprehending why the industrial revolution led to many steps backward for fatherhood but has, nevertheless, laid the foundation for many steps forward. If we can find the steps …

The “Catch-22s” of the Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution meant that a dad who raised food on the farm could no longer raise his family as effectively as a dad who raised money in the city. On the farm, family and food were raised on the same soil. Industrialization meant that the family was raised in a house while the father raised money in a factory. For fathers, industrialization meant isolation from his family.

Industrialization created the “Father’s Catch-22″: a dad loving his children by being away from the love of his children. The better he “loved” them as a human doing, the worse he loved them as a human being. Fathers had always been human doings, but industrialization magnified the problem.

Marx identified the alienation from self and work that industrialization created. Practically speaking, though, it was much more an alienation of males from self and work than of women from self and work. And more of fathers than of mothers. In fact, it allowed women to become the nurturing specialists. And, because the larger the man’s family, the greater the alienation, the more children, the more alienation. Industrialization created the alienation of dads proportionate to the degree that they were dads!

The Industrial Revolution, then, took men’s occasional absence from home — previously needed only in wartime and for hunting — and made it the norm. This increasing division of labor magnified the division of men’s and women’s interests. It magnified the belief in the maternal instinct and the reality of the distant father. Prior to industrialization, divorces usually led to children living with dads. But not after.

“The Father’s Catch-22″ was compounded by “The Husband’s Catch-22.” Few women fell in love with aspiring househusbands. Even if the househusbands were reading Dr. spock. So a man learned early in life that a good career was a prerequisite for a good woman’s love. That had always been true, but industrialization now magnified the degree to which he needed to be away from a woman’s love in order to receive the love of a woman. Or, as a husband, he needed to be away from his wife’s love in order to be loved by a woman who would be his wife. Thus the “Husband’s Catch 22.”

Both Catch-22s delivered to men the same message: Receive love by being away from love. The Industrial Revolution accentuated both “Catch-22s” and thus deepened men’s unconscious fear of spending too much time with the people they loved for fear of ultimately losing their love.

The Industrial Revolution not only deprived the son of his father as a personal role model, but deprived the son of his father as a professional role model— he was no longer his dad’s apprentice. In contrast, daughters still had their moms as both personal and professional role models.

While the daughter experienced her mom’s teaching and her mom’s temperament, industrialization created two “Sons’ Catch-22s”: First, he experienced his mom’s teaching (“be neat” and “don’t play rough”) and temperament, but to find love, he needed to be more like his dad. Second, the more successful his dad, the more he should emulate him, but the less he saw of him. These are what I call “The Son’s Catch-22s.”

Children and wives began to blame the father for his absence. No one understood that Dad’s absence was his form of slavery, his commitment to providing the family’s “financial womb.” Had he been unwilling, his wife would never have selected him to begin with, and thus the children wouldn’t exist to register their complaints!

That’s the bad news. The good news is that industrialization began to sew the seeds to reduce the division of labor. Which would, in turn, begin to sow the seeds to bring the father back home. How? Industrialization produced enough appliances and conveniences to allow the woman to work outside the home, enough cost to need the woman to work outside the home. Thus industrialization initially reinforced the division of labor, and then created the conditions to reduce it.

However, before this created a father and child reunion, it led to our sons being deprived of yet a third role model: male elementary-school teachers. Prior to industrialization, the boy also had mostly male elementary-school teachers. But industrialization increasingly produced female elementary-school teachers. Why? Dad was still the primary breadwinner so Mom needed a work schedule to be compatible with the children’s school schedule

Industrialization’s good news for fatherhood is that it laid the foundation for technology, and technology is increasingly allowing the father to once again raise money and family “on the same soil.” Technology is creating the conditions for a father and child reunion. It allows for home offices on cheaper, more rural land, freeing him from paying the price of a home in the suburbs; freeing him from commuting in rush-hour traffic; freeing him from suits and, nowadays, from sexual-harassment lawsuits. Most of all, though, he has had decades to discover what happens to children when Dad is absent. Men, like women, respond to being needed. And now technology is allowing him to have the need for his love be under the same roof as the need for his productivity. Welcome to the Era of the Fatherhood Juggling Act!

The biggest barrier to helping men love will be expecting men’s money…

The Banker Barrier (or the “Daddy Track”)

“A father is a banker provided by nature.” – French Proverb

Nothing threatens a father’s involvement in the family more than his obligation to be the family’s “financial womb,” creating “The Father’s Catch-22″: loving the family by being away from the family. It is the irony of traditional fatherhood: being a father by not being a father.

Creating fatherhood means creating a major psychological shift. Both sexes find it’s difficult to fully share the psychological responsibility for the other sex’s traditional role –especially when the other sex is around. Just as mothers take on twenty-four-hours-a-day psychological responsibility for the childcare — even in homes in which the father is spending more hours with the children — fathers similarly still retain a twenty-four-hours-a-day psychological responsibility for the family’s “financial womb — even if the mother happens to be making more money at some given moment in time.

Even in Sweden, where men are offered paid paternity leaves of six months and media campaigns show sports heroes tending their young, only 22 percent of Swedish fathers take the leave, and their average leave is not six months, but forty-seven days. Why? Because even in Sweden, men know they will jeopardize their career advancement and therefore jeopardize their wife’s and children’s welfare (and therefore, possibly their wife’s love) if they go on the “Daddy Track.” It has become easier for Swedish men to take longer leaves because the government plays substitute husband so well for women in Sweden that women can afford to live with, and marry, men who earn less. Which is why the amount of leave time Swedish men have taken to be with their children doubled between the seventies and eighties.

In the United States, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, providing for up to twelve unpaid weeks off to care for a new baby or seriously ill family member, has been used by a half-million men and 1.4 million women. But for the most part, dads use accumulated sick days instead leave days. And overall, women are still 135 times more likely than men to leave the workplace for family reasons.

I hope this social backdrop allows fathers and mothers to see that we’ve all been caught in a system dictated initially not by the needs of men, or of women, but by both sexes’ needs to survive, and that more recently we’ve been caught in the transitions that have resulted from that system succeeding. Our desire to do more than survive included the desire for freedom to exercise options — from divorce to raising children without Dad. To give ourselves permission for that, we changed our image of father from “father knows best” to “father molests.” The same German colleague who sent me the cartoon above [Male Matters is unable to locate the cartoon.] also sent me another from Der Spiegel (roughly the German equivalent of Time magazine) in which the child says, “Mummy, please tell me something about Daddy,” and the mom replies, “No, no, dear! No horror stories before sleeping.”

This daddy-as-nightmare image is ubiquitous in industrialized countries, to such a degree that the only way we can now envision Dad with our children is if Mom is unable to be available. [This is reflected in movies, as explained in the Male Matters commentary "In movies, dads not treated as equals to moms."]

* * * * * * *

Warren Farrell, Ph.D. is the author of Father and Child Reunion. He is also the author of Why Men Are The Way They Are; Women Can’t Hear What Men Don’t Say; and The Myth of Male Power. 

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4 Responses to Warren Farrell: What Prevents Dads from Being Involved?

  1. Pingback: Anonymous

  2. J says:

    Here’s my rant………
    As a typical apologetic Canadian I must apologize deeply for the appalling behavior of my fellow Canadians last weekend in Toronto. The terrorist behavior proved to the world that Canada is plagued by violent intolerant bigoted criminal gangs like Hitler’s brown shirts and the equivalent fascist black shirts in England. The rioters are gangs of demented thugs cruising thru society looking to beat the crap out of anyone not of their political ilk so everyone is terrified to have a different view than these dangerous psycho oppressors.
    Please forgive me for the length of this note as I attempt to wrap my head around this complex and draconian issue. Misandry is fairly new to me. Upon discovering this issue my conscious and lack of knowledge compelled me to research misandry further. What I have found is that misandry forms the central pillar of Canadian social control programs (SCPs). I compared SCPs from other countries to ours. The strongest comparison was Hitler’s SCP of anti-Semitism as is described in his book Mein Kampf, My Struggle, in which he dehumanizes the targets of his SCP.
    The naive acceptance of such demented social values is exactly what my relatives reported they saw in Europe leading up to WW2. Millions died fighting against these values and many millions more suffered from the atrocities caused by accepting these values because societies just let such great evil happen. Misandrists in Canada often take pride in being labeled as Nazis as this acknowledges the heightened level of their absolute power in Canadian society, along with their commensurate elite social status, state funding and privileges.
    The inflammatory labels Hitler branded the future human sacrifices of his SCP, Jews in this case, are virtually identical to the language used by misandrists in Canada. Use of such language is deemed as hate crimes in Canada. That is unless it is used against men like it was used against Jews in Germany in a strategy to demonize, dehumanize and persecute humans like animals. Based on historical comparisons, such as with McCarthyism, the Soviet Union’s Gulags and Canadian aboriginal residential school SCPs, to name a few, it is clear that the fate of current Canadian SCP victims is likely to get a lot worse before it gets better. Clearly the persecution stage is far from being stamped out and just about to get started.
    The criminal justice system is littered with wrongfully accused cases involving men, like David Milgaard, and virtually none involving women. These state sponsored atrocities increasingly plague our entirely corrupt Kleptocratic Canadian criminal justice system. The hate propaganda spewed by misandrists in Canada mirrors Hitler’s view that “I see no reason why man should not be as cruel to man as nature is”.
    The latter quotation defines the values of the Canadian criminal justice system. Men are routinely wrongfully and knowingly accused with the male innocents then being subjected to planned obscene human rights atrocities committed by our criminal justice system. These usually mild mannered meek innocents are routinely beaten, raped, etc. at the behest of the system. Studies have proven that sex accusations against men are false anywhere from 25% to 75% of the time. An exploding industry is the growth of the wrongly accused business. Lawyers and human rights groups attempt to come to grips with the system’s growing widespread atrocities that are blatant, extreme, and fraudulent systemic fabrications of fictional crimes. These state sponsored and orchestrated atrocities are created to feed a steady supply of innocent victims into the system. These victims are human sacrifices that are abused in order to steal increasingly large amounts of society’s resources to profit the criminal justice system cronies and their ilk. This increasing and reckless spending occurs at a time when statistics prove that crime is declining significantly.

    Misandry corruption has led to the establishment of a wealthy and well-entrenched Canadian kleptocracy for feminist special interest groups and other misandrists funded and/or enabled by the state, such as the criminal justice system. Kleptocracy, “rule by thieves”, is a form of political and government corruption where the government exists to increase the personal wealth and political power of its officials and the ruling class at the expense of the wider population, often without pretense of honest service. The corrupt Canadian criminal justice system and misandrists make no pretense of being remotely honest. My relatives said the same thing happened in Europe with Germany’s entirely corrupted people’s court. Also, special interest groups of the day drove home their complete disregard for honesty. The brown and black shirts did it violently while the Nazi funded English pledge for peace groups refused to pass judgement on Hitler’s oppression in Germany and elsewhere such as Czechoslovakia.

    Those who attacked Warren’s presentation in Toronto last weekend were state sponsored terrorists for whom honesty is completely irrelevant. Promulgating male truths by Warren, no matter how unassociated with misandry and feminism, may eventually compromise the misandrist’s Kleptocratic status and benefits. Many sex charge related cases are fabricated and kleptocratic as Milgaard found where crown witnesses were paid to lie. I would be surprised to hear anything other than that the authorities such as the university, government special interest funding departments, criminal justice system, etc., all condoned and enabled the behavior to date by ensuring that their terrorist acts go consequence free. So far my suspicions have been confirmed.
    My grandparents left Europe after WW1 because they believed that those in charge would make war all over again in their lifetime. Sadly, they were correct. By those in charge they meant the wealthy and powerful that created Hitler. Gramps meant the tycoons and politicians such as the Henry Fords, DuPonts, Krupps, JP Gettys, IBMs, King of England, etc were bestowed the highest medal Nazi Germany could bestow. Hitler personally bestowed the Grand Cross of the German Eagle upon these monsters. This made the Olympic gold medals Jessie Owens won in Germany under Hitler’s psychotic glare incredibly special to the world and history.
    My gramps believed that war was highly profitable for such tycoons who were personally responsible for the war crimes and related unimaginable suffering. The same applies in our current Canadian society with regards to the obvious links between misandry SCPs and kleptocracy beneficiaries.

    In terms of explaining why our Canadian society has embraced misandry en masse, I found understanding from the book: On fighting, killing, and dying : the secret World War II transcripts of German POWs by author Neitzel, Sönke. This explains how Germany’s normal families, friends, neighbors, coworkers, etc. became blood thirsty zombie butchers as a result of Hitler’s SCPs. Canada has adopted the same SCPs standard with misandry replacing Hitler’s anti-Semitism and anti-anyone not Aryan. At this point I have read a summary of this book and hope to read it all when it becomes available from the local library.
    The psychotic violent mob at Warren’s presentation is the same ilk as the German brown shirt gangs attacking Jews and anyone else that may be any threat, or just propose a different view, to Hitler’s sadistic values. Hitler’s anti-Semitism standard is alive and prospering in Canada in the form of misandry because both Hitler’s and Canada’s SCPs have the same dehumanizing and demented characteristics that are very well and extensively documented.
    “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.”Edmund Burke
    “The spectacle (McCarthyism) is one we would expect in a totalitarian nation where the rights of the individual are crushed beneath the juggernaut of statism and oppression; it has no place in America where government exists to serve people, not to destroy them” President Harry S. Truman.
    “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” Winston Churchill

    • J, I hardly call your heart-felt plea for fairness a rant. You have written eloquently and intelligently on a comparison between Hitler’s Nazism and modern misandry. I’m sure a lot of readers agree, though maybe not many in Canada!

      Thanks so much for taking the time to lay out your well-written thoughts.

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