Shrinks think dads stink: The unessential father?
by Carey Roberts, PhD
1999 - While many families around the country were celebrating Father’s Day this year, the American Psychological Association decided it had had enough. The APA, the Washington D.C. based organization of U.S. psychologists, published an article, Deconstructing the Essential Father.
Published in the June issue of its flagship journal, American Psychologist, authors Louise Silverstein and Carl Auerbach make this candid confession:
Our goal is to generate public policy...that supports the legitimacy of diverse family structures, rather than policy that supports two-parent, heterosexual, married family.
Having abandoned any pretense of scientific objectivity, Silverstein and Auerbach assert their belief that efforts to strengthen traditional marriage are a guise for a neoconservative attempt to reassert “the cultural hegemony of traditional values, such as heterocentrism, Judeo-Christian marriage, and male power and privilege.”
The authors are highly selective in their review, and rely on specious reasoning to reach their final conclusion:
We do not believe that the data support the conclusion that fathers are essential to a child’s well-being and that heterosexual marriage is the social context in which responsible fathering is most likely to occur.
Apparently the APA enjoys fending off criticism because denunciations quickly came from nationally-syndicated columnists, politicians, and others:
- Linda Chavez: “The two professors clearly want to hasten the demise of the married-couple, two-parent family, while claiming children won’t suffer.”
- Wade Horn, National Fatherhood Initiative: “Their statement, ‘We do not find any empirical support,’ can only be true if they’ve never read the literature.”
- Cathy Young, Detroit News: “It uses flimsy research to push a political agenda. It’s filled with ideological jargon about ‘heterocentrism’ and ‘male power.’”
- Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe: “What Silverstein and Auerbach have written is not science. It is the opposite: a political screed that ignores what science has proven. Why would the American Psychological Association promote something so shoddy?”
- Laura Schlessinger: “Are you clinical psychologists who do family therapy out there buying this nonsense?” (additional letters critiquing the article appear on her Web page)
- Charles Moore, Calgary Herald: “It is obvious this attack on fatherhood and the family is pure postmodern feminist quackery.”
- Maggie Gallagher: “All parents struggling to raise responsible kids deserve our support. But a few words issued from an ivory tower aren’t going to change the reality of fatherlessness, that, sadly, too many of our children today know by heart.”
- Representative Joseph Pitts (R-PA): “Two decades of research support the fact that children who have been raised without their fathers are at risk of academic failure, behavioral problems, juvenile crime and teenage pregnancy.”
If the APA is attempting to self-destruct, the timing couldn’t have been better. The article came out just as the House of Representatives was debating a previous APA article that condoned adult-child sexual relations, which resulted in a Congressional resolution denouncing the article on July 30, 1999.
Don’t you wish you could just take a bar of soap and wash this polluted ideology out of APA’s mouth? Shouldn’t Congress be debating a second resolution to reject the conclusions of the “Deconstructing Fatherhood” article, and develop policies to promote two-parent families?
Columnists and politicians have spoken out. Now, what do fathers and children’s advocates have to say?