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Is Fatherhood Fading Out?
Image: Graham Richardson / Flickr

As a girl, Father's Day underscored the other 364 days of the year, bringing a blaring reminder there was no father around to celebrate. The absence of that single, critical male relationship didn't just make me feel lonely and left out, it impacted my understanding of the world and my place in it. .

After reflecting on how my father's absence has impacted me as a girl and now woman, wife and mother in my memoir, The Artist's Daughter, others have shared with me similar stories of abandonment and struggle. Our collective stories confirm what statistics scream: that the bond from father to child is essential. Whether our dads were good, bad, or not there at all, this relationship shapes our understanding of our very identities.

Yet, we live in a country where too many of us have broken relationships with Dad. In America, 1 in 3 kids live apart from their biological fathers. A recent Washington Post article addressed the dad dilemma with the eye-catching title: The new F-Word – Father. In it, Kathleen Parker addresses a question being asked as we discuss the latest stats on America's female breadwinners: In the evolving 21st-century economy, "what are men good for?"

Parker concludes:

Women have become more self-sufficient (a good thing) and, given that they still do the lion's share of housework and child rearing, why, really, should they invite a man to the clutter? Because, simply, children need a father… . Deep in the marrow of every human child burbles a question far more profound than those currently occupying coffee klatches: Who is my daddy? And sadly these days, where is he?

While single mothers may have enough grit, love, and know-how to raise us, the absence ...

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Is Fatherhood Fading Out?
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June 2013

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