July 11, 2012
KYLE PRUETT on fatherhood.
How central are fathers to childhood development?
It depends on whom you ask. If you ask the child they would say, absolutely essential. You ask a mother, she’ll say, if he does it the right way he’s really important. If you ask the father he’s likely to say, I’m not sure but I think probably pretty important. If you ask the experts, the answer will depend on how much they know about families and child development. I don’t mean to be elusive in my answer. . . .
Children grow up, just like puppies. Their needs change profoundly. Children have a hunger in them. If you choose to raise a child without the father in their life, some day that child is going to come to you for an explanation and you better be prepared for it. The absence of the paternal figure is going to be a powerful psychological entity in the life of that child. It could turn out to be a time bomb, or it could turn out to be a little firecracker.
Women can’t be all things to all children. It’s not that women can’t do a wonderful job, be incredibly loving, willing to make all the sacrifices necessary and have kids who turn out fine. They can. Women come to me and say: I want to have this child and I’ve never had a man in my life that I trusted, what do I do? Although I don’t give advice on how people ought to live their lives, I can say that if you want to avoid the negative outcomes of unrequited father hunger, including the idealisation of the guy whose sperm you have used, then get men in your life that you do value close to the child, keep them there, and let the child understand what the fathering experiences feels like from people you trust. But it’s a myth that one person can do it all. You can’t.
Read the whole thing.