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Fathers: For the Sake of Your Children—David Popenoe (1932 – )

David Popenoe’s Life Without Father is a must read for anyone seeking to understand why fathers are not simply optional pieces in a family mosaic but vital contributors to a child’s well-being. In a world diminishing the value of fathers, Popenoe explained—through a survey of sociological studies—that children are best served by being in a home with a married mother and father.

Fathers are one of the two most important role models in children’s lives. Some children across America now go to bed each night worrying about whether their father will be there the next morning. Some wonder what ever happened to their father. Some think to themselves, who is my father? Is it a stretch to believe that the father-neglected or father-abandoned child is more likely to have a jaundiced view of such values as honesty, self-sacrifice, and personal responsibility, to say nothing of trust?

The decline of fatherhood and marriage cuts at the heart of the kind of environment considered ideal for childrearing. Such an environment, according to a substantial body of knowledge, consists of an enduring two-parent family that engages regularly in activities together, has many of its own routines and traditions, and provides a great deal of quality contact time between adults and children. . . .

What the decline of fatherhood and marriage in America really means, then, is that slowly, insidiously, and relentlessly our society has been moving in an ominous direction—toward the devaluation of children. There has been an alarming weakening of the fundamental assumption, long at the center of our culture, that children are to be loved and valued at the highest level of priority. Nothing could be more serious for our children or our future.1


David Popenoe, Life without Father: Compelling New Evidence that Fatherhood and Marriage Are Indispensable for the Good of Children and Society (New York: The Free Press, 1996), 13-14.