When the public thinks of fatherlessness, we tend to think of completely absent fathers, the type predicted with eerie accuracy by the 1965 Moynihan Report. But the studies show the litany of heightened risks for kids appear when father time drops below about 33 percent, which is higher than “every other weekend and one weeknight” contemporary family law sets as a matter of course.
As the data on how dads matter accumulated, fathers have struggled for their children. Their root struggle has been against assumptions of incompetency, that mothers are better at this caregiving stuff, just like in the “funny” little NYT story.
I know it is not the preferred narrative of paid family leave, but if, in those instances when a marriage dissolves and the ideal partnership is no longer an option, family law addressed parent time according to the best interests of the children, not only would the children benefit — which should be reason enough — but also, women and their careers would benefit. (Oh, and the men left bereft by their broken connections with their children too.)
It is past time we let go of our assumptions about only mother care will do. But a strike symbolically protesting theoretical federal policy won’t do that. Advocate for family law reform in your home state. In fact, 25 states have some form of divorce and custody reforms pending.