To John and everyone else…a sample of my “academic” writing, the intro from an essay I wrote titled “Failing Families Need Fervent Fathers” …
Emergent social problems, such as those related to teen pregnancy, drug abuse, divorce and child abuse might be problems fully realized in this century. Although they have always existed to one extent in human history, the 20th and 21st centuries seem to be first to explore the causes and solutions to such problems. Today, these problems are obvious, and to one degree or another, most people agree that something should be done to either eliminate or reduce their negative affects on society. However, latent issues come into controversy as different social perspectives disagree on the causes of such problems, hence they cannot agree on how to solve them. Even more, underlying root causes may not be presently obvious, no matter what the perspective.
In comparing and contrasting the changing family in recent decades, increasing divorce rates, teen pregnancy, child and spousal abuse, and single parent homes have emerged as a major social trend and problem. As a possible result, many young adults are choosing to wait to get married, never marry, or put off having children. Putting off marriage can have several implications to society. Not only does it result in a drop in the birth rates, but the 3.5 million cohabitating couples in the United States (Kornblum.2004) have been shown to have a 50% higher divorce rate (if they do eventually get married) than those couples who do not live together before marriage (Santorum. 2004.) Ironically, the one thing they are trying to avoid through their trial marriage in living together before they get married, appears to be one of the factors in leading to an eventual divorce.
If these couples become parents before they get married, their children have more emotional problems and are more likely to engage in drug use (Santorum. 2005). Less stability and weaker family ties further propel the next generation into failed marriages and low birth rates. If the consensus lies in knowing a child does best in a stable home with a mother and a father, then the actions of these couples is likely an expression of avoiding parenthood or marriage because they do not feel like creating this ideal environment with the childs best interests in mind.
It seems many couples who have a child, and are still romantically involved live together with the intention of getting married. One study found that 80% of urban parents falling under the above description thought they would either get married or continue living together. Yet, within twelve months, only 11% of these couple married (Santorum. 2005) One possible explanation for the low success of unmarried parents who are living together is that many of them have low incomes and depend on government programs to help them provide for their families. The downside is that current government programs do more to encourage these unwed couples to split rather than marry. Dr. Wade Horn, an assistant secretary at the US Department of Health and Human Services during the recent Bush Administration explains; Instead of a social services system that supports and encourages them to pursue their choice of marriage, they are told that, rather, the goal is for the father to simply sign a paternity establishment paper (Santorum. 2005.)
This statement leads to a more latent discussion of the broken families in the 21st century. The government is not the only institution sending a message to men and fathers that their only worth to the family unit is to provide financial support to his child. Could society as a whole, including all the bold messages of the feminist movement on the forefront, be sending a message to men that they are not wanted or needed? In this me generation, father advocates such as family research expert David Popenoe, sees the problem in men focusing on their own dreams and goals first. They show a reluctance even to acknowledge children that they do not see or support. (Korblum. 2004.) Yet, this reference to his perspective makes no mention and gives no account to the possibility that the feminist movement has embedded this into society in a way that gives men justification to live selfish lives, just as the woman are. This claim seems drastic and maybe even far-fetched, but societys norms could be warping in such a way and at such a pace that the once revered position of man as the head of the home is now loathed and looked down upon. If the man does stand up and lead his family, he is seen as heavy handed and abusive, and perhaps portions of these men have earned that reputation. Nevertheless, for those, who want to lead in a healthy and productive way, who is out there to encourage them? What programs are available to keep men and fathers in the home, fighting for their marriages, and fighting for meaningful relationships with their children? It is no wonder so many fathers have devoted more time to their careers than to their families…
For a magazine article, I would probably open with a fictional diagogue and scenerio to illustrate and add some emotion. The slant is what I am pulling for here…that possibly the feminist movement is at fault for the absent fathers…and to end on a positive note, I would want to conduct more research about grass roots efforts to put dads back in the game. And after reading this to myself, I see several changes I could make to help it flow better, such as shorter sentences and paragraphs.
Thanks in advance for your suggestions and comments.