Author Chuck Palahniuk wrote an interesting idea, in his book Fight Club, that suggests that our image of God is derived from the impressions we have of our fathers. It’s an interesting theory at the very least. Palahniuk suggests that a child growing up with a stern and unforgiving father perceives God to be a strict, vengeful Lord. A child who grows up with a loving, understanding dad believes that their God is benevolent, kind and forgiving. The theory doesn’t ask whether God exists or not, it just suggests that our perception of that ultimate authority figure is based upon our most immediate definition of authority.
Fathers are generally considered the ultimate authority in most households. Women usually run the show, and they often make the clocks run on time in most homes, but when a child gets in trouble they would much rather deal with their mother than their father … I said GENERALLY. I’m sure I’ll hear from a Betty Beetle in Birmingham, Alabama that had a mother no one wanted to mess with, but in general most kids fear their fathers more than they do their moms.
This begs the question, what happens to a world without fathers? What is the outcome of a society that provides a hole through which a man can slip through their familial responsibilities with ease, and the government makes a promise that it will use the taxpayer’s dollar to take care of the deadbeat dad’s dependents? What happens to the infrastructure of that house, the neighborhood that kid runs around in, and the fabric of that society that allows men to think that the bulk of their responsibility lies in providing their offspring’s home with enough money for the latest Playstation and a couple cans of pork and beans? What happens to those homes, that neighborhood, the society, and those children?
If it’s true that “By 1996, 70 percent of inmates in state juvenile detention centers serving long-term sentences were raised” without fathers, then we must ask the question what does a person without a father believe about a God, a society, or themselves? Again, we go back to the Palahniuk link between our perception of our dad and a God? Is it a good question, for instance, to ask if a greater percentage of those reared without fathers are more likely to believe that there is no God? Is it a good question to ask if those without fathers, and the atheism that results from it, increases a general feeling of hopelessness? Is it a good question to ask, at that point, if a greater degree of hopelessness increases the likelihood of progressively violent criminal acts?
There’s a famous song written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, and sung by Peggy Lee, and later the great PJ Harvey, called “Is That All There is?” The lyrics speak of despair, and loss of hope, and a lack of belief in all things otherwise deemed consequential. The song was written to get us thinking about hopelessness, but one could attach a feeling of hopelessness with Godlessness in a child, and those attachments could lead to a general sense of no controlling authority in that child’s life. The song, as I interpret it, was written to provoke thought about matters such as, what goes through a child’s mind when they think of stealing from the store? If that child knows he can deceive the apathetic store clerk, he’s probably going to steal that item he covets. If he knows that his mom will love him no matter what, that she will forgive him and defend him, unconditionally, against anyone that dares to call her boy out, what’s to stop him? What’s to stop him from progressing, in the manner all boys will to hurting someone, what’s to stop them from eventually killing someone? There are some leaps being made here, as not every child without a father will progress through these channels, but as the statistics below suggest most of those that will have no fear of a father, because there is no father to fear, and if we’re to believe Palahniuk’s theory there’s no fear of an ultimate authority figure either, because they don’t believe there is one. What’s to stop an irrational, young mind, with no fear of a controlling authority, from progressing in his criminal wishes to blood lust?
“Seventy-two percent of juvenile murderers and 60 percent of rapists come from homes” where no fatherly presence exists. “Seventy percent of teenage births, dropouts, suicides, runaways, juvenile delinquents, and child murderers involve children raised” without fathers. “Girls raised without fathers are more sexually promiscuous and more likely to end up divorced. A 1990 study by the Progressive Policy Institute showed that after controlling for single motherhood, the difference between black and white crime rates disappeared.
“Various studies have come up with slightly different numbers, but all the figures are grim. According to the Index of Leading Cultural Indicators, children from single-parent families account for 63 percent of all youth suicides, 70 percent of all teenage pregnancies, 71 percent of all adolescent chemical/substance abuse, 80 percent of all prison inmates, and 90 percent of all homeless and runaway children.
“A study cited in the Village Voice produced similar numbers. It found that children brought up in homes” without fathers “are five times more likely to commit suicide, nine times more likely to drop out of high school, 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances, 14 times more likely to commit rape (for the boys), 20 times more likely to end up in prison, and 32 times more likely to run away from home.”
However one runs the numbers, the greater ease with which we are allowing fatherless homes and encouraging single-mother homes in a round about manner, our society is less for it, and the last fifteen years have revealed to us some startling numbers. The single-mother banner flies under the feminist flag, and that banner suggests that single-mother parenting reveals the power of women. A woman, driven to provide for her child, may prove that she doesn’t need a man to financially provide for her child, and she may prove that the traditional definition of a home is not necessary to provide a child with a relatively decent moral code. As an individual that was raised in a single-parent home, I can report that there are holes in the existence of a child that is raised without the influence of two genders, and that that child may spend the rest of their life attempting to fill those holes. What fills these holes, sticking with the theme of this post, of a need for a male role model is often not what one would perceive as ideal for proper maturation. As an individual from a single-parent home, I’ve been a party to numerous debates regarding the ability for one parent, regardless of gender, and a couple of parents of the same gender’s, ability to properly raise a child. It’s been my experience that the influence of two genders on a child is generally the optimal experience, and the child benefits from it greatly … I said GENERALLY Betty Beetle from Birmingham, Alabama, so save your comments!!!