What Men Want: Women Who Want Them

About this time of year, amid summer vacations and grilling hot dogs, the talk once again turns to dads. Father's Day is tomorrow.  Columnists feverishly exclaim the need for dads to be active in their kids' lives, citing the effectiveness of two—parent families.  Despite more outspoken support of traditional families, it seems dad is still a disappearing act who receives more criticism than praise.

But dads aren't the only ones to blame for an increasingly fatherless society; women contribute to the rift as well.  Fortunately, women can treat men in ways that motivate him to be a good dad and husband which will keep his family together—the ultimate Father's Day gift. 

The frequently cited family statistics have become familiar, if still, disheartening.  According to a recent study by the Center for Marriage and Families, only about 60% of children are 'living with their own biological (or adoptive) parents.'  The National Council for Family Relations found that children raised by both biological parents are less likely to be poor, to drop out of school and have emotional and behavioral problems.  Without two parents, which usually means, without dad, kids have trouble becoming healthy, stable adults. 

The question at the core of this debate is not where have all the cowboys gone but why have they left?  One obvious answer is men and women value the traditional family less.  The increased rate of cohabitation and divorces and decreased rate of couples marrying prove this. For families to thrive and for dad to stick around, we must communicate the value of marriage. 

But another trend is at work.  Barring extenuating circumstances, children lack fathers in part because either the mom or dad didn't think he was important.  This may seem too austere for our need to make the study of social institutions complex, but I wonder, if men knew their presence was vital, wouldn't they stick around?  Perhaps not, but it's worth communicating. 

There's no excuse for a man who chooses not to raise his children, and much of that decision and responsibility rests on him.  But the rest of us can help eliminate those mitigating reasons by portraying his presence, and thus the nuclear family, as essential and rewarding.  Invariably, a man's most basic need is respect and admiration.  If he feels this and he is generally kind—hearted, he will do what he can to show love to his family financially, physically, and emotionally. 

Unfortunately, we are a society that does not show respect to families and shows even less to men.  From television commercials to popular books, men are portrayed as aloof, obtuse, and in the case of Maureen Dowd's book, possibly unnecessary.  It is inevitable, when watching an hour long program that a commercial selling window blinds will manage to make the women intelligent and interesting, and the man ridiculously stupid (though I suppose, still interesting).

More women are in the entertainment, business, and technology industries than ever before; perhaps they are responsible for painting men as buffoons.  Maybe it's their way of heaping scorn on men for the patriarchal barriers they've had to cross to excel in the work force. Maybe this trend actually succeeds in selling blinds.  Whatever the reason, culture is at work to emasculate men—that is palpable.  While the root cause of this is too complex for my pay grade, if we want kids to have dads, those reasons seem unimportant compared to the disastrous effects this negativity produces on the male psyche. 

In the most extreme cases, women disrespect their man so he disappears, or, he is vastly irresponsible and no amount of respect will make him a family man.  Certainly both scenarios exist, but my guess is the former happens as much as the latter, but is rarely discussed.  One of the ways to communicate that the nuclear family is valuable to people is simply to communicate that the qualities inherent in men are priceless.

We have come a long way in society in technology, women's rights, education, and science.  But we are losing something most important.  If our families disintegrate, these achievements will mean little. Keeping families together falls to both sexes:  If women respect and love their men, they'll most likely stay and raise a family with her.  If men stay with their families, they'll contribute to that percentage of kids being 'healthy, stable adults.' Despite the discouraging statistics, we can and we must keep our fathers around—and this message should be emphasized beyond a Father's Day card. 

So here's to dads, we need you, we're with you, and here's hoping you're still with us.

Nicole Russell is a "Rush baby" active in politics in Minnesota.

About this time of year, amid summer vacations and grilling hot dogs, the talk once again turns to dads. Father's Day is tomorrow.  Columnists feverishly exclaim the need for dads to be active in their kids' lives, citing the effectiveness of two—parent families.  Despite more outspoken support of traditional families, it seems dad is still a disappearing act who receives more criticism than praise.

But dads aren't the only ones to blame for an increasingly fatherless society; women contribute to the rift as well.  Fortunately, women can treat men in ways that motivate him to be a good dad and husband which will keep his family together—the ultimate Father's Day gift. 

The frequently cited family statistics have become familiar, if still, disheartening.  According to a recent study by the Center for Marriage and Families, only about 60% of children are 'living with their own biological (or adoptive) parents.'  The National Council for Family Relations found that children raised by both biological parents are less likely to be poor, to drop out of school and have emotional and behavioral problems.  Without two parents, which usually means, without dad, kids have trouble becoming healthy, stable adults. 

The question at the core of this debate is not where have all the cowboys gone but why have they left?  One obvious answer is men and women value the traditional family less.  The increased rate of cohabitation and divorces and decreased rate of couples marrying prove this. For families to thrive and for dad to stick around, we must communicate the value of marriage. 

But another trend is at work.  Barring extenuating circumstances, children lack fathers in part because either the mom or dad didn't think he was important.  This may seem too austere for our need to make the study of social institutions complex, but I wonder, if men knew their presence was vital, wouldn't they stick around?  Perhaps not, but it's worth communicating. 

There's no excuse for a man who chooses not to raise his children, and much of that decision and responsibility rests on him.  But the rest of us can help eliminate those mitigating reasons by portraying his presence, and thus the nuclear family, as essential and rewarding.  Invariably, a man's most basic need is respect and admiration.  If he feels this and he is generally kind—hearted, he will do what he can to show love to his family financially, physically, and emotionally. 

Unfortunately, we are a society that does not show respect to families and shows even less to men.  From television commercials to popular books, men are portrayed as aloof, obtuse, and in the case of Maureen Dowd's book, possibly unnecessary.  It is inevitable, when watching an hour long program that a commercial selling window blinds will manage to make the women intelligent and interesting, and the man ridiculously stupid (though I suppose, still interesting).

More women are in the entertainment, business, and technology industries than ever before; perhaps they are responsible for painting men as buffoons.  Maybe it's their way of heaping scorn on men for the patriarchal barriers they've had to cross to excel in the work force. Maybe this trend actually succeeds in selling blinds.  Whatever the reason, culture is at work to emasculate men—that is palpable.  While the root cause of this is too complex for my pay grade, if we want kids to have dads, those reasons seem unimportant compared to the disastrous effects this negativity produces on the male psyche. 

In the most extreme cases, women disrespect their man so he disappears, or, he is vastly irresponsible and no amount of respect will make him a family man.  Certainly both scenarios exist, but my guess is the former happens as much as the latter, but is rarely discussed.  One of the ways to communicate that the nuclear family is valuable to people is simply to communicate that the qualities inherent in men are priceless.

We have come a long way in society in technology, women's rights, education, and science.  But we are losing something most important.  If our families disintegrate, these achievements will mean little. Keeping families together falls to both sexes:  If women respect and love their men, they'll most likely stay and raise a family with her.  If men stay with their families, they'll contribute to that percentage of kids being 'healthy, stable adults.' Despite the discouraging statistics, we can and we must keep our fathers around—and this message should be emphasized beyond a Father's Day card. 

So here's to dads, we need you, we're with you, and here's hoping you're still with us.

Nicole Russell is a "Rush baby" active in politics in Minnesota.