Parenting as a verb is coming into its own. As well it should be. People are taking this Frederick Douglass quote to heart these days:
It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken adults.
And it’s quite exciting to see sites like The Good Men Project open up the discussion, putting fathering alongside mothering. A Westchester resident and follower of this blog has some thoughts about Rob Astorino’s Fatherhood Initiative which they share below.
While reading the Lohud, I came across an event for Astorino’s “Fatherhood Initiative” and decided to check it out.
I believe in involved fathers and think there is a lot of merit to this program. But good intentions by community groups are colored by the conservative and narrow world view of our County Executive which are clearly visible in the “facts” section of the initiatives webpage on our County site.
Evident in these “facts,” (quotation marks are necessary here as “fact” is not an accurate description of the content), Astorino plainly states an antiquated version of family, motherhood, and fatherhood. He ignores female reproductive choice, LGBTQ families, and the economic realities facing men and women in the County.
The County demographics do not reflect Astorino’s views on fatherhood and family.
We are a County of working women, female executives, stay-at-home dads, same-sex families, and low incomes persons that need real assistance not a lecture on conservative values. Here are his “facts” from the Fatherhood Initiative’s site. From this point on, my thoughts are in italics.
Fatherhood Initiative Facts:
- Unfortunately (here he sets his personal agenda with the word “unfortunately“) over the course of the past 50 years, the critically important role of the father in the family has been diminished (Note the use of the word “diminished”. What about fatherhood has been diminished? Because father are not necessarily the primary breadwinners? According to Pew Research, the number of stay-at-home dads has increased. So what exactly does Rob Astorino mean when he uses the word “diminished”?) There are lots of reasons (the role of women outside the home has changed, for example). But what can’t be debated are the consequences. (So to sum up Astorino’s intro, he is saying that women working outside the home is bad for the family.)
- Today, half of all children in the United States are born to single mothers, and that number is even higher in minority communities. (Read: Single motherhood is bad; ignores some are planned pregnancies, some are the result of lack of access to proper sex education and birth control, birth control and abortion. Also related a system that targets African American men for incarceration.)
- Studies show that children in father-absent homes are more likely to: live in poverty, under-perform in school, suffer child abuse, get involved in drugs and alcohol, get in trouble with the law, and get pregnant. (This “fact” omits the LGBTQ population; two-parent households tend to result in better outcome for children. The idea that one parent needs to be a father has been repeatedly disproved. Is Rob Astorino not aware that love – not gender – makes a family?)
- 24 million children in America—one out of three—live without their biological dad in the home, according to the U.S. Census Bureau (Again, not necessarily a bad thing, but Rob Astorino wants you to think it is.)
- Nearly 50,000 children in Westchester County live with a single mother, with no father present. (Does Rob Astorino not trust the mothers of those 50,000 children? Has he met them? Message to the County Executive: They vote.)
- Over a third of these children, or about 16,000, live below the poverty level (Yes. Poverty is a problem that must be addressed with affordable housing, income equality, better access to child care, the end of targeting African American as prisoners, better access to higher education for all, closing the wage gap. This statement might have a ring of truth about it if Rob Astorino addressed the crushing aftershock of the 2008 economic crash. Also that property taxes in Westchester towns fund school districts so he can continue his shell game of running on not raising County property taxes.)
See for yourself what Rob Astorino has to say and post your observations in the comments below. The Fatherhood Initiative link is HERE.