Fatherlessness "Research" is Overly Simplistic, Biased, and Sexist



For more information, please see this page of excerpts of Michael Lamb's research.

Most researchers past and present looked at father absence in an overly simplistic fashion. Early father absence studies were weakened by researchers not taking the role of the father within the context of the family and society at large. They were also weakened by techniques used to determine the development of masculinity and femininity in children. A bad or inadequate father is worse than no father at all. The fathers' attitude towards his children and the way he interacts with them is important. Data indicated that "quality of the father-son relationship is a more important influence on the boy's masculine development than the amount of time the father spends at home."

Children are not irreparably harmed by the absence of their biological fathers, so fatherhood initiatives that seek to bring the bio-father into the family, regardless of the costs, are short-sighted. The absence of the father may be mellowed by the presence of other positive male role models: "Paternal absence or paternal inadequacy does not rule out the possible presence of other male models. A brother, uncle, grandfather, or male boarder may ensure that the boy has much interactions with a competent adult male. An important role can be played by male neighbors and teachers. Male teachers, particularly, may influence father-absent boys."

Early studies found that fathers away from their children for more than two years regarded them as "sissies." Lamb agreed with this assessment, stating that "boys were less assertively aggressive and independent in their peer relations than boys who had not been separated from their fathers. They were more often observed to be very submissive or to react with immature hostility, and they were actually more aggressive in doll play than boys who had not been separated from their fathers. However, the facts that the fathers were present in the home at the time of this study and that the father-child relationships were stressful make it difficult to speculate about what influence father absence per se had on the children's personality development."

Lamb also found that "Studies of the effects of father absence have been said to show an element of sexism in that more attention has been given to effects on boys than on girls."

Father absence studies began to assess the effects on children of the absence of their fathers due to military service during World War II. Comparisons between war time father absence and father absence due to divorce or single parenthood are so far removed from each other that the differing conditions between these situations must be taken into account before using father absence research to describe (and especially to malign) divorced and single mother homes.

Most importantly, "well-socialized and successful adult males were likely to have had highly involved fathers and to have come from homes where their parents had compatible relationships. Some very extensive longitudinal data underscore the importance of both the father's behavior and the father- mother relationship in the personality adjustment of the child. In general, block (1971) found that males who had achieved a successful emotional and interpersonal adjustment in adulthood had both fathers and mothers who were highly involved and responsible in their upbringing. In contrast poorly adjusted males had fathers who were typically uninvolved in childrearing and mothers who tended to have a neurotic attachment."

Michael Lamb was once a prominent researcher for fathers' rights ie Kelly and Lamb....

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