From the loving, engaged portrayals of fathers featured in recent popular movies like “The Descendants,” “Moneyball” and “A Better Life” — all three performances were nominated for Academy Awards — one might conclude American dads are culturally valued.She goes on to explain why dads are important, and how the courts are biased against them:
Look again. The mothers in these films are comatose, divorced or dead. It’s no coincidence. From Atticus Finch to today, there’s an unspoken Hollywood rule that fathers can’t shine too brightly in the face of active mothering. Dads are more likely to be accorded respect when they are “coping” — in effect, when they are surrogate mothers.
Sadly, it is not only in Hollywood where fathers get the short end of the stick. The culture reflects a painful and pervasive social reality: For all we talk about the value of fathers, we have been devaluing and discarding them for decades.
We must first diagnose this cancer. Then we must systematically work to cure it.
Why do fathers matter so much? Because fatherhood makes men out of boys, for one thing. And because typically they offer children a just as necessary but different kind of love and guidance from what mothers bestow.
Divorce is initiated by women 70% of the time. From the day they make that decision, the system colludes with them in gaining control of the children. Women can falsely allege violence or sexual abuse of children without having to prove it (unscrupulous lawyers often advise their women clients to do this). When they do, the father is often removed from the home while trying to prove his innocence.
The court will assign financial support obligations to the father. If the father fails to pay his support, even if he can’t, the heavy hand of the law will punish him instantly. But if the mother arbitrarily denies rightful access to the father, the court is reluctant to penalize her. As one Canadian judge told a family lawyer arguing for his client’s continually denied access rights, “It’s not my job to punish mothers.”