Sunday, June 18, 2006

Fathers' Day Lesson 101

On behalf of children and mothers, and toward a more loving world, an immeasurable toast of appreciation to all the dads out there who try to parent the best they know how. Conservative, Libertarian, Liberal, Gay, Straight, Polyamorous, Religious Right to Atheist— being a caring dad requires a difficult balance of strength and gentleness— with a learned acceptance, that wisdom inevitably comes— usually after the fact.

The son is father to the man. And a rare man there is who is a father without benefit of (and dents from) a mother (of invention) somewhere effecting his life. Not some tales of Oedipus, but a reality that we are what we are because of who grew us as children, who we choose to love, and how we interpret how we are loved to ourselves and others.

Aside from some fruitfully orgiastic petri dishes, sex is the way most of us got our stork-delivered or co-manufactured bundles of joy. Somewhere between “Sins of the Father” and “Father Knows Best,” is there a correlate between a man’s experience as a father and his ability to express himself givingly as a lover? And how does a father’s repartrois in sexual feeling communicate to his children’s sensual dexterity?

22% of the men I’ve flung sheets (or sand) with were dads. I can’t say these men were more or less experienced in amore than the non-dads. Did it matter if they fathered girls, or boys, or both? Maybe, slightly more of the guys who had daughters, but no sons, did the tender touches— verbally admiring my non-sexual body parts, calling the day after, thanking me for being with them. But not so much more that I’ve been prone to select men for their progeny and gender thereof. (Now, my non-scientific N isn’t anywhere near the 2,000 or so that could be considered legitimately statistical – scout’s honor!!! )

Fathers, mothers, children and sexual statistics. Chest pounding and clucking over two recent reports by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and in conjunction with other U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services.

Conservatives aimed on one finding for their “family values” stockpile, from the CDC’s June 2006 report, Fertility, Contraception, and Fatherhood: Data on Men and Women From Cycle 6 of the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth .

"Men who did not live with both parents at age 14 were more likely to have had sexual intercourse during the teenage years (19 or younger) compared with those who lived with both parents at age 14 "(figure 9, table 14)

And liberal women ranted on about April’s CDC’s Recommendations to Improve Preconception Health and Health Care --- United States that suggested health practitioners consider all pre-menopausal women below 44, as pre-pregnant mothers, in regard to medical advice given them.

Now, I’ve been known to perform segues that wander into territories never to be discovered. But both the ultra-conservative editor Mark Alexander and the uber-liberal Sunsara Taylor are two examples, from both sides of the political spectrum, who need to take a major look at basic logic 101 for their lines of rationalization.

Granted, the CDC (and its overseer, the USDHHS) can become tools of politics, like most any US department, but it does deserve applause for attempting to understand the cyclical effects of individuals and family on society and visa versa. (It also is promoting a healthy teen dating initiative against emotional/physical relationship abuse “Choose Respect,” reminders that most of us adults could look at in our relationships, too.)

Of the 100 detailed tables in Fertility, Contaception and Fatherhood, including those that tackle heavy societal perceptions—
“… is (it)… much better for everyone if the man earns the main living and the woman takes care of the home and family(?),” to, “ (is there) almost certain chance a condom would reduce physical pleasure(?)”

--two findings especially caught me by surprise:

Most Fathers did want to be dads,

“Based on reporting from fathers, available for the first time with these data, only 9 percent (of births) were unwanted at the time of conception. "(figure 7, table 8)

There are Men who actually sometimes wish their first sexual encounter didn’t happen when it did,

“Between 59 to 72 percent of men reported that they really wanted their first intercourse to happen at the time it occurred.(figure 10, table 16). And there was no correlation “between age at first intercourse and wantedness status for men.”

Even that last provocative idea that men (of any age) might have regretted their first encounter, didn’t get the conservative “feather in the cap” gander like that of the stats for boys living in mom-only directed households having a higher incidence of first sexual encounters as teens, than boys in two-parent households.

Mark Alexander states in’s "Fathers linked to healthy families"

“Of course, many moms have no choice but to do it all. This is because many biological fathers have abdicated their responsibility for proper love, discipline, teaching, support, moral guidance and protection of their family. (Memo to divorced dads and assorted victims of feminist rage and unfair family courts: Please hold your mail -- we know that women file almost 70 percent of divorces, most without any claim of abandonment, infidelity or abuse.)”

Gee, could it be most people don’t have to legally “claim” a reason for divorce, or maybe “emotional” abandonment would be way up there for both genders. AND, perhaps, men are afraid of filing due to the financial ramifications to them. I don’t know, but substantiate your claim, Mark. You are an editor. Don’t leave us guessing with your assumptions.

“.. Tragically, the pages of history -- especially 20th-century history -- are rife with the terrible misdeeds of those who were raised without fathers, or with abusive fathers: Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden and many others of lesser infamy.”

Sure, two parents are usu ally better than one. But how well reared by GH and Babs will history feel that the two-parented GW was coddled? Last count, how virtuous are the Bush twins by their, oh, so, god-fearing mom and dad? You kind of make us feel sorry for the childhoods
of those bad men you mentioned. Who raised Karl Rove, Kenneth Lay, Jack Abramoff, oh yeah, and Dick Cheney, by the way?

“Never let it be said, however, that the Left allows the facts to get in the way of its agenda. Indeed, a strong case can be made that liberal social policies are directly responsible for generations of fatherless children -- particularly black children. And democrats, as we have noted many times previously, have a vested interest in keeping blacks and other "victimized" constituencies dependent on the state.”

How do we even touch that piece of miss-jointed diatribe? Who’s calling whose “agenda” the kettle (and black, no less?)?

On the way far left, Sunsara Taylor’s piece, CDC to Women: Prepare to Give Birth! is an embarrassing tirade against the biological reality that women’s bodies are designed to give birth and planning for the possibility is a good thing. Harping adolescent-like herself under the auspices of individual rights to privacy and a woman’s right to choose, she refuses to address individual and societal responsibilities as a necessary condition for all babies’ health. She jumps from the CDC’s recommendations for women (and men’s) lifetime-health planning by way of practitioner’s “interventions” (e.g., the Five A’s [Ask, Advise, Assess, Assist, and Arrange], to some sort of part and parcel of a grand governmental scheme to Nazi-like gynocide, that is in direct lineage with South Dakota’s anti-abortion legislation and the bunch of religious right pharmacists refusing to fill birth control prescriptions. Scary precedent, those two latter things, but a big leap away from consumer –patient education in eating well and consciously maintaining a healthy womb.

Taylor says we should shout back to the CDC with outrage that “Women are not fetal incubators.” Guess, what? biologically, that is part of how our bodies were designed. And if a non-irreversibly infertile woman ever has sex, there is always the chance she can get pregnant. Not every woman chooses abortion if the pregnancy was unplanned. Nor are most women 100% certain if and when they might desire a baby after thinking she would never choose to conceive.

Some of Sunsara’s big- bad- wolf fear-mongering:

“…get prepared for the religious fanatics who terrorize women at the doors of abortion clinics to broaden their harassment against women who enter bars, smoke cigarettes or eat at McDonald’s. Get ready for the prosecution of women who engage in these activities for crimes against their future fetuses. And get ready for calls to weed out and even sterilize women who are deemed by the state to be unfit to bear children.

And when you get right down to it, this report has potentially genocidal implications. By formalizing the idea that certain women chronically put themselves at risk of being less-than-perfect potential mothers, the CDC paves the way for acceptance of the idea that certain women are unfit to reproduce.”

Come on, Sunsara, give it a rest. If you had a basis for a point, it’s been blown out by your mis- directed wind. Would you rather that babies continue the higher rate of birth problems in the US as compared to other industrialized nations? Seminal health is important, too. So, non-liberterian, cum social welfare advocate, that I am, guys should be encouraged to take care of their reproductive and general health, as well. And that was mentioned, though lighter than it could’ve in the CDC report. (Crystal’s health hint for men— a little celery, along with giving loads of health benefits for your man juice, extracts a delicious flavor for those you’d hope would imbibe.)

To Mr. Alexander’s credit, he at least ends in a non-partisan, unbiased inclusive wish:

“…how … fathers might extend their roles in outreach to fatherless children: By mentoring through Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Big Brothers-Big Sisters, youth groups, Boys Clubs, and Girls Incorporated; or by coaching little-league sports, or teaching in Sunday school, or becoming a school tutor, or volunteering to work with high-risk kids through inner-city ministries, to name just a few.”

Says the CDC:

“The majority of men (94 percent) and women (94 percent) 15-44 years of age strongly agreed or agreed with the statement, “The rewards of being a parent are worth it despite the cost and work it takes.” Among fathers, 98 percent strongly agreed or agreed with the statement, as did 97 percent of mothers."(figure 25, Tables 79-80

More than anything, children— be they infants, adolescents or even adults themselves— want to know their parents love them and did their best at guiding them. Regardless of political belief, that’s the legacy for true fatherhood and motherhood that counts the most.

Father’s day sports? Now, go play with pals and your balls of choice, everyone. And be nice.

1 comment:

Pantera said...

Father's Day is a celebration inaugurated in the early twentieth century to complement Mother's Day in celebrating fatherhood and male parenting. It is also celebrated to honor and commemorate our fathers and forefathers. Father's Day is celebrated on a variety of dates worldwide and typically involves gift-giving, special public sex positions , and family-oriented activities. The first observance of Father's Day is believed to have been held on June 19, 1910 through the efforts of Sonora Dodd. Ms. Dodd is from Spokane, Washington.