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since June 19, 2001


Deconstructing the Essential Father

A paper by Louise B. Silverstein, Ph.D.and Carl F. Auerbach, Ph.D., was introduced 1999 07 14 by Ferrel Christensen, Ph.D., to the discussion forum EPOC NEWS of Equal Parents of Canada, with the comment:

"I don't believe this article itself has been posted to the list. FYI. FC"

As that was the extent of Ferrel Christensens's covering note with which he forwarded the full article, I had no idea that the paper had appeared in the June 1999 issue of American Psychologist, published by the American Psychological Association.  A search for the paper on the Internet provided some information that I thought would interest many people.  That information is incorporated into the response I posted to the EPOC NEWS list on 1999 07 14.

My response was:

Of course not.  It is a fairly new paper that is being promoted by pro-feminists.  For instance, the only reference to it that can be found through AltaVista is at


for a workshop called "Gendering Men: Women’s Worlds 1999 -- Masculinity and men’s studies workshops," in Norway, initiated by pro-feminist Michael Kimmel (I wonder if Martin Dufresne was there) with the paper having been announced under the heading:

"Loise Silverstein: Deconstructing the Essential Father.  Possibly: Do Promise Keepers Dream of Feminist Sheep?"

The work shop was to have taken place in the context of "The 7th International Interdisciplinary Congress on Women, Tromsø, Norway, 20-26 June 1999."

The platform of IASOM, the owner of the web site at which the workshop was announced, states:

"(1) The goal of The International Association for Studies of Men (IASOM) is to promote international cooperation and development of studies of men, based on profeminist, gayaffirmative and antiracist principles, and to enhance the critical depth, variety and methodological and theoretical development of this field."

All of that explains much about the tone of the paper:

Deconstructing the Essential Father

Louise B. Silverstein, Ph.D.and Carl F. Auerbach, Ph.D.

Yeshiva University

 Abstract (Excerpt) 

"...The current article proposes that the neoconservative position is an incorrect or oversimplified interpretation of empirical research.  Using a wide range of cross-species, cross-cultural, and social science research, the authors argue that neither mothers nor fathers are essential to child development, and that responsible fathering can occur within a variety of family structures.  The article concludes with alternative recommendations for encouraging responsible fathering that do not discriminate against mothers and diverse family forms. ..."

Of course responsible fathering can occur within a variety of family structures, but the statement is more than a bit of a red herring.  It's a commonly used trick to pull the wool over people's eyes. It's not too surprising that the statement is found in a report that appears to be the result of advocacy research.  The authors' report isn't only an attempt at "Deconstructing the Essential Father," it is attempting to deconstruct the essential traditional heterosexual family.

The real issue is to what extent good responsible fathering occurs in various "family structures."  We know for example that about 1% of all North American children grow up in foster care and that, although many children growing up in foster care turn out all right, between 60 to 70% of prison inmates left government-sponsored foster care at the time they were eighteen.  They were placed in foster care mostly on account of the absence of natural fathers.

We also know that a very large proportion of children in foster care arrived there straight from single-mothers' homes, again, on account of the absence of natural fathers.

Furthermore, we know that one sixth of the Canadian single-mother families with children aged 11 or younger, although most of their children do all right, produce more than one third of Canadian children in that age group with social mal-adjustments -- on account of the absence of natural fathers.

We also know that on average the best parents by far, fathers included, originate from and receive their upbringing in functioning families headed by two married, biological parents.  Not only that, but we know that these well-brought-up parents are the least likely to cause their own children to grow up fatherless.  They are far less likely to become divorced.  In addition, we know that these good results are even more pronounced in parents who received a religious upbringing and who themselves lead religious lives.

A number of researchers demonstrated that these facts hold true even when comparisons of "family structures" are controlled for family income and other factors.  Moreover, there is at least one study (from New Zealand) that demonstrated that it is the presence of both biological parents that determines a good outcome in children, because adoptive children -- even those with *two* adoptive parents -- exhibit pathologies to an extent identical to that exhibited by children from single-mother homes.

It is a bit difficult to get around all of these facts.  That could well be the reason why the authors of the report ignored them in their discussion.  It isn't likely that it was done out of ignorance of the facts.  Besides, the Yeshiva University isn't exactly renowned for promoting the advantages of two-parent families headed by heterosexual, married, biological parents.

I won't bother to cite the sources of all of the facts I mentioned, because it seems to me that everyone on this list is familiar with them.  If necessary, the sources can be found via the table of contents at .

It is intriguing that in their criticism directed at Blankenhorn and Popenoe the authors of "Deconstructing the Essential Father" identify family violence (see Video on violent women) as something that happens solely to women and imply that most of that violence occurs in intact families.  What their view ignores is that children comprise by far the largest group of family-violence victims, many times larger than the group of women who become victims of family violence, and that women themselves, especially single mothers, are most likely by far to injure and murder children. (See Video on violent women)  However, the authors' report also ignores that men become increasingly the victims of family violence to a larger extent than women are, before, during and after marriage and that most of the severe violence against women happens after separation and divorce.  In fact, a heterosexual, married family is on average by far the safest place of all for women to be, with the highest rate of family violence being experienced by lesbian couples.

What is most interesting of all in the authors' criticism of Blankenhorn and Popenoe is that especially Popenoe identified that current divorce rates are the best predictors of future youth criminality trends, with each increase in the divorce rate causing a somewhat larger future corresponding increase in youth criminality, and that the authors didn't touch that at all.

Moreover the "Gendering Men" workshop too dealt with issues of the pain of men and the causes of their violence, but didn't have anything scheduled about the violence of women.  I wonder if there was anything within the scope of the "Congress on Women" that dealt with that issue.  I guess that there wasn't.  It's not a popular subject of discussion in those circles.  After all, they are the ones who keep up the hype about the violence of men even more than their pro-feminist brothers.

Advocacy research?  You bet!  But Drs. Silverstein and Auerbach didn't make a good job of it.


PS. The authors extensively use the term neoconservatism and its derivatives.

American conservatism, neo or otherwise, in fact represents the older classical liberal tradition.

— Robert H. Bork, Slouching Towards Gomorrah, p. 65

It follows that "neoconservative" views were politically correct until just a short time ago, even in the eyes of the APA.  Not only that, in the minds of all but a very small extremist minority, conservative views bestowed a sign of respectability on the person who held them.  It appears that liberal extremists don't only want to remove all traces of traditional moral standards in society, but also all signs of respectability.  What better way than to simply write off all criticism of their agenda as a right-wing conspiracy by neoconservatives?

Walter H. Schneider

Bruderheim, 1999 07 14

See also:

Throughout history, rampant child apprehensions and state-ownership of children went hand-in-hand with totalitarian regimes and tyrannies.

Antiquity — The apprehension of children – boys – in antiquity

20th Century — Evolution of the Hitler Youth

...in a series of coldly and shrewdly calculated moves, radical extremists usurped the youth movement that was very much splintered along political and religious ideological lines and consolidated it into a unified and rigorously controlled sector of the German population.  The slogan that motivated the Nazi leaders was an adaptation of a slogan attributed to Napoleon "Who controls the youths controls the future!"  (Wer die Jugend hat, hat die Zukunft), although its origins go back to Socrates (whom Plato, in Republic, has offer this advice to philosopher kings: "Take all the children from their parents and rid the city of adults."), and, as the history of Ancient Greece shows with respect to Sparta, even farther back in antiquity.

Modern Times — Big Sister Is Watching

"President Obama is committed to helping states develop seamless, comprehensive, and coordinated 'Zero to Five' systems to improve developmental outcomes and early learning for all children....it will be the goal of this Administration to ensure that every child has access to a complete and competitive education -- from the day they are born to the day they begin a career."

— (Fact Sheet: Expanding the Promise of Education in America, Mar 10, 2009
see also:
Remarks of President Barack Obama –
As Prepared for Delivery Address to Joint Session of Congress, Tuesday, February 24th, 2009)

First they came for the fathers, then for the mothers, and now for   both parents in intact families.  In the end all children will be in the care, custody and control of the State.

An epidemic of state-sponsored kidnapping feeds a tyrannical system hungry for revenues.  Child Protective Services and Children's Aid Societies systematically and increasingly often rob children from their parents.  Kafkaesque chicaneries that the targeted families find impossible to comply with are the tools used to keep the revenues rolling in.  Many families don't survive the ordeals that they are being subjected to by any given CPS or CAS. 
(Full Story)

1999 08 01
2001 02 01 (format changes)
2002 11 08 (added links to Seizing Children)