Fish Eaters: The Whys and Hows of Traditional Catholicism

``Where the Bishop is, there let the multitude of believers be;
even as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church'' Ignatius of Antioch, 1st c. A.D

The Garbage Generation
Additional Note

There has arisen a murmuring and a discontent among academic feminists who sense a threat to the feminist/sexual revolution in the public's awareness of the social pathology of female-headed families, a pathology whose existence they would like to deny. According to Terry Arendell,

The long-held view that the absence of a father adversely affects children has increasingly been challenged. For example, a study of nearly nine hundred school-aged children found that single-parent families were just as effective in rearing children as traditional two-parent families. After controlling for socioeconomic variables and matching groups of children in father-present and father-absent families, they found no significant differences between the two groups [Feldman, H. 1979. "Why We Need a Family Policy." Journal of Marriage and the Family 41 (3): 453-455]. Another scholar argues: "Studies that adequately control for economic status challenge the popular homily that divorce is disastrous for children. Differences between children from one- and two- parent homes of comparable status on school achievement, social adjustment, and delinquent behavior are small or even nonexistent" [Bane, M. 1976. Here to Stay: American Families in the Twentieth Century, p. 111].

This is like saying that pygmies are no shorter than other people with whom they have been matched for height. "After controlling for socioeconomic variables" means after leaving out most of the evidence. Arendell wants to limit her comparison to female-headed homes where divorce or illegitimacy does not produce economic deterioration and lowered standards of living. But the whole thrust of her book and of Lenore Weitzman's Divorce Revolution and of half a library of other feminist literature is that divorce, father-absence and illegitimacy do lower the standard of living of ex-wives and "their" children; so Arendell is saying that there is no deterioration in school achievement, social adjustment, etc.--except in almost every case.

Arendell's framing of her assertion contains the suggestio falsi that the problem of single women is wholly economic and that therefore it can be solved by further amercing the ex-husband or ex-boyfriend who, for the purpose of making him justifiably amerceable, must be misrepresented (by the gerrymandering of evidence discussed in Chapter VIII) as enriched by divorce or non- marriage.

What she is here acknowledging is that money, a good thing, commonly keeps company with other good things--high status, high educational achievement, social stability and so forth. She explains what happens when these good things are expelled along with Dad:

The children could not help being adversely affected by the reduced standard of living and new economic stresses that confronted their mothers. They were affected most directly by the conflict between their own needs and the demands of their mothers' new jobs. Being put into child care, being without supervision before and after school, having to remain home alone when ill, or having to deal with mothers who felt chronically fatigued and overburdened were all major adjustments for many of them.

The children suffer both paternal and maternal deprivation-- paternal deprivation inflicted by Mom's throwing Dad out of the house, maternal deprivation by Mom's absenting herself as a wage earner because she no longer has Dad as a provider.

"There is," say Henry B. Biller and Richard S. Solomon,

ample documentation of the association between socioeconomic status and various aspects of children's cognitive and social functioning. Many researchers have argued that the impact of father-absence and divorce on children's development is, for the most part, an artifact of lowered socioeconomic status. Some research, however, suggests that, in fact, single-parent status may actually be a more powerful predictor of the academic and social functioning of young children at school entry than is socioeconomic status or any other family background, developmental history, or health variable. Guidubaldi and Perry [Guidubaldi, J., and Perry, J. D. 1984. "Divorce, Socioeconomic Status, and Children's Cognitive- Social Competence at School Entry," American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 54, 459-468] reported striking evidence that single-parent status accounts for much statistically independent variance, and is highly predictive of performance on various indexes of academic and social competence, even when socioeconomic status is controlled through regression analyses. Although family structure in itself was not associated with intellectual ability measures, children from single-parent homes were found to be much more at risk for poor academic performance and sociobehavioral difficulties upon entering school than were children from two-parent families [Guidubaldi, J.. 1983. "The Impact of Divorce on Children: Report of the Nationwide NASP Study," School Psychology Review, 12, 300-323; Guidubaldi and Perry, 1984].

According to Elizabeth Herzog and Cecilia Sudia,

It is often implied or stated that the causal element in the reported association of father's absence and juvenile delinquency is lack of paternal supervision and control. Studies that inquire into family factors confirm the importance of supervision, but not the indispensability of the father to that element of child-rearing.

No one would assert the father's presence is indispensable to the proper socializing of children. Many single mothers do an excellent job of child-rearing on their own or with the assistance of a father-surrogate. So do many orphan asylums. What the evidence cited in the Annex shows is that there exists an ominous correlation between father-absence and delinquency. Herzog and Sudia maintain merely that the correlation is less than one hundred percent--which is unquestionable, but irrelevant.

The same faulty logic occurs in the following:

The questions here are merely whether the father is the only available source of masculine identity and whether absence of a father from the home necessarily impairs a boy's masculine identity. The studies reviewed do not, in our view, provide solid support for such a thesis.

No one would suppose the father was the "only" source or that his absence "necessarily" impaired the boy's masculine identity. No one would suppose, in other words, that there existed a hundred percent correlation between father-absence and impaired masculinity in sons. But having thus triumphantly disproved what was never asserted, Herzog and Sudia affect to believe that they have disproved what is asserted, that there exists a significant correlation between father absence and impaired masculinity in sons.

They continue:

Family-oriented studies usually include father's absence as part of the family configuration rather than as a sole and separate factor. Some of them find father's absence significantly related to juvenile delinquency and some do not. A recurrent finding, however, is that other factors are more important, especially competent supervision of the child and general family climate or harmony.

The correlations established in the Annex show that the father's presence is often not merely "another factor," but the most relevant factor, that the absence of the father often means the absence of more competent supervision and its replacement by less competent supervision. Herzog and Sudia's argument is comparable to saying that the absence of the father's paycheck is not as important as "other factors" such as adequate income. It is the father's paycheck which commonly provides the adequate income children need; and it is the father' socialization which commonly provides the competent supervision children need.

It is often, say Herzog and Sudia,

difficult to know whether reported differences related more strongly to family factors (including fatherlessness) or to SES [socioeconomic status]--the more so since family factors and SES are intricately intertwined.

They had better be. The intertwining of family factors and SES is an essential part of the patriarchal system, which motivates males to create wealth, in exchange for which it guarantees them a secure family role. It is for this reason that families must be headed by fathers and why fathers must not permit their paychecks to be taken from them for the purpose of subsidizing ex-wives and fatherless families.

According to the feminist sociologists Patricia Van Voorhis, Francis T. Cullen, Richard A. Mathers and Connie Chenoweth Garner, "Marital status (single versus two-parent home) and marital conflict were weak predictors of delinquency." No one would suppose otherwise. The correlation between broken home and delinquency is nowhere near high enough to predict that a particular child from such a home will become delinquent--any more than the Highway Patrol can predict which drunk will have an accident. What can be predicted is that children from broken homes will be overrepresented in the class of delinquents and that people who drink will be overrepresented among those who have accidents. Assertions that evidence concerning the problems of fatherlessness "are a dubious predictor...most of these studies...typically show overprediction of problems" are irrelevant.

Herzog and Sudia's insistence that father-absence is not of primary importance because "other factors are more important, especially competent supervision of the child and general family climate or harmony" is inconsistent with another point they make when they are grinding a different axe and wish their readers to believe in the inability of single mothers to provide what they previously insisted they could provide. The mothers cannot provide the "competent supervision...and general family climate or harmony" because of their "sense of incompleteness and frustration, of failure and guilt, feelings of ambivalence between them and their children, loneliness, loss of self-esteem, hostility toward men, problems with ex-husbands, problems of income and how to find the right job, anxiety about children and their problems, and a tendency to overcompensate for the loss to their children....This anxious picture seems related to the findings of M. Rosenberg...and J. Landis...that children of divorce show less self esteem....Among low-income mothers, Rainwater...found a majority of female respondents saying that a separated woman will miss most companionship or love or sex, or simply that she will be lonesome. Descriptions of AFDC mothers repeatedly stress their loneliness and anxiety, which breed and are bred by apathy, depression, and lethargy."

Is it any wonder that women family heads such as these generate a disproportionate amount of social pathology?

When the single mothers do properly socialize children along patriarchal lines, they fall foul of other feminists like Phyllis Chesler, who rails at them for perpetuating patriarchy and "sexism":

Aren't patriarchal mothers still complicity [sic] in the reproduction of sexism? Don't they, in Sarah Ruddick's words, carry out "The Father's Will"--even or especially in His absence? Aren't patriarchal mothers, in Mary Daly's words, their own daughters' "token-torturers?"

It is acknowledged that there is an "officially recognized" correlation between delinquency and father-absence but this is said to be the result of prejudice: police and social workers and teachers expect fatherless children to be more delinquent and they stereotype them and discriminate against them on the basis of their stereotype. "Teachers and other social agents," say Van Voorhis, Cullen, Mathers and Garner,

are more likely to expect and ultimately perceive poor behavior from the children of divorced parents.

"Since agencies of juvenile justice routinely include the stability of the home as a criterion for legal intervention," says feminist Margaret Farnsworth,

such evidence may reflect a self-fulfilling prophecy.....That is, decision-making policy based on the assumption that broken homes lead to delinquency could, in itself, account for the higher official rate of delinquency observed among juveniles from broken homes.

Why do social workers, teachers and juvenile authorities--the people who interact day in and day out with disturbed kids--why do they expect those without fathers to be more frequently messed-up? These people are far more qualified as experts than academic feminists sitting in offices and writing tendentious articles enveloped in impenetrable jargon and statistical mystifications. "My observation," writes Mrs. Betty Arras (quoted in the Annex above), shared by virtually all my colleagues in that school [in the Oakland ghetto] was that broken homes hurt children in every way--emotionally, academically, and socially.

Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
Annex to chapter I
Additional note

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