Joe Carter writes:
...visiting fathers aren't the only ones aware of the damage being done to our country's children. Almost everyone acknowledge the harm in treating dad as if there is "nothing objectively essential about his contribution."
Yet if we're too specific, too personal, we may offend some poor hapless father who is doing the best he can. And who are we to judge any individual's family situation? America's true religion--unfettered individualism--requires that we find some way to justify everyone's choice and ignore or play down the damage that results from such choices.
Although it is tempting to join in bending a knee to the cult of individualism (I'm an American, after all), I want to take a different approach. I want to directly address the specific, narrow audience who can do more than anyone else to change this destructive cycle. I want to make a policy proposal to the fathers who are on the verge of leaving their families.
As with all policy proposals, certain assumptions must be shared before agreement can be reached. My proposal is based on a simple argument: When your first child is born, your life stops being about what you want and starts being about what they need. If you disagree, you can stop reading now.
Here is the only way to fix the problem of fatherlessness: You must find a way to stay with your children. You may be having a tough time in your marriage. You may be thinking that you no longer love or can live with your spouse. You may believe that divorce is the only remaining option.
I don't know your situation. I don't know what you are going through. I only know that your children need you at home. Your sons and your daughters need your presence. They need you around, all the time, and not just for regularly scheduled visits. If you want to be a good father, don't leave your children.
I'm fully aware that such a suggestion will be unpopular and that it will be deemed impractical. Our society tells us that you shouldn't "stay together just for the kids." Some social scientists will tell us that staying in an unhappy marriage will hurt the kids. Our culture tells us that progress has made fatherhood a vestigial artifact. Our hearts tell us that we deserve to pursue our own bliss. Even our churches can tell us that marriage is about being happy and that we deserve to be happy no matter what.
But again: When your first child is born, your life stops being about what you want and starts being about what they need. They need you at home. If you're a good man and aspire to be a good father, that is all you need to know.
If your wife is physically abusive to you and the children, you need to get out--and take your kids with you. Otherwise you stick it out, and try to love your wife in every way possible. Maybe the marriage will heal (they sometimes do). Maybe it won't. It doesn't matter. If you have to stay in your marriage for one year or for eighteen, you stick it out until your children are grown.
The rest of his moving piece is here. It draws on Mr. Carter's own experiences as a divorced father. Read the whole thing.