Title: Fathering at Risk
Author: James R. Dudley, Glenn Stone
Publisher: Prometheus Books
Examines serious issues about fathering that often go unnoticed
Not clear that a crisis in fathering actually exists
Analysis of problems with fathering and fathers in modern society
Focuses on absent fathers: divorced, teen, unmarried
Explains how fathers can be helped to improve
As difficult and complicated as fathering might be, matters are far worse when it comes to nonresidential fathers those fathers who are divorced, unmarried, and/or teens. Whatever fathering entails, it surely requires that one actually be there in the daily life of a child. So how can anyone accomplish even adequate fathering when they arent around?
This is the subject of Fathering at Risk, by James R. Dudley and Glenn Stone. More than just a book about social issues, this is also a text designed to teach students how to deal with those issues, help men become better fathers, and hopefully improve the social situation of fatherhood in general.
As the title indicates, its the premise of the authors that fathering is at risk, both generally on the social level and specifically on many individual levels, and thats what prompted them to write this book in the first place. Im not entirely convinced, though, that fathering is as at risk as the authors suggest, though there is certainly plenty of evidence of problems in American society.
The authors make a great deal out of the differences in the number of at-home fathers between today and 1960, but thats an awfully short span of time for a solid comparison. Is it really implausible that societies in the past have had similarly high numbers of absent fathers due to, for example, wars or jobs located a long distance away? I dont honestly know but its worth considering. Just because families had a certain pattern in 1960 doesnt mean that that should serve as a model which we must take as definitive even if, for various reasons, it has many strong points.
Even if there's no crisis, though, fathers are still important for childhood development, and its difficult for any man to succeed in being a father when they arent there on a regular basis. Because there are increasing numbers of fathers who are absent for whatever reason, its important to come up with ways for nonresident fathers to overcome the obstacles before them.
This is what the book focuses on, explaining what sorts of obstacles exist, why they cause problems for children, and how social workers, psychologists, politicians, and others can help such fathers do a better job. Because this is a text designed for classroom situations, the authors provide questions for readers to reflect upon, numerous references for further research, questions for group discussion, and more. Hopefully this text will become a resource for people interested in furthering the needs of children and parental bonds.