Focus on the Family's Message to Divorced Dads:
Be warmed and filled, then Go Away and let Mom raise the Kids Without You
Focus on the Family is one of the largest and most influential Christian Para church ministries in the world. Their 30-minute radio programs on family related issues are broadcasted five days a week on about 2000 stations across North and South America, and have been doing so for over 30 years. They employ approximately 7,000 workers, and it is not a stretch to say that they are among the top 10 most influential Christian ministries in the world.
I, myself, used to listen to and contribute to them on a regular basis. Then one day not long after my divorce, I was talking to another former dad like myself about the fact that divorced fathers are, for the most part, treated like stray dogs by America's family courts, and during our discussion I mentioned Focus on the Family and their founder and leader Dr. James Dobson. It was then that I learned something I had no idea of: i.e. that Dr. Dobson was not at all on the side of divorced fathers, but rather had chosen to side with single moms and to teach them that dads are not really, all that, necessary. I have to admit that I was shocked and almost in total disbelief; however, he seemed adamant about this and challenged me to check it out for myself. So I did just that: via the Internet and by writing to Focus on the Family on seven different occasions over a 2.5 year period: six of which I received written responses to.
To my astonishment, I discovered that my friend was right, that Focus on the Family has chosen, in effect, to throw divorced dads under the bus and to teach single moms that their children's father's presence or absence is really not that important, and certainly not necessary to your child's well-being. When I discussed this with another Father's Right's activist who has been involved for over 20 years, he became emotional and told me in no uncertain terms that, "Dobson has done NOTHING for fathers rights." In fact, to my knowledge, Focus on the Family has yet to take the time to interview three of the top experts on this very subject. I am speaking of Dr. Sanford Braver, Dr. Warren Farrell, and Dr. Stephen Baskerville: each of whom have written books on the subject of Divorced fathers. In fact, Dr. Braver and his team received the largest federal grant ever to study why it was that so many fathers were seemingly (or so it was said) "abandoning" their children after divorce. Dr. Braver and his team were the first researchers to take the time to interview BOTH the mothers and the fathers. And he and his team did so for eight years, with hundreds of divorcing couples, taking time to interview them shortly after filing for divorce, again a year later, and then two years afterward: or three years after filing papers with the court.
What Dr. Braver and his team discovered was not what they expected, since it sharply contradicted the image that the media had been portraying about divorced fathers for many years. In fact Dr. Braver discovered six different beliefs about divorced fathers that were widely believed, but nonetheless false. These false beliefs are as follows:
1. That Divorced Dads are Deadbeat Dads
2. That Divorced Dads are Runaway Dads
3. That Divorced Dads Impoverish their former Wives and Children
4. That Divorce Settlements tilt unfairly in favor of Divorced Fathers
5. That Fathers are better off emotionally than their Ex-wives and Children after a divorce
6. That Fathers are the ones who most commonly initiate Divorce proceedings
In his ground-breaking book, Divorced Dads, Dr. Braver tells why each of the above statements are False. For example, on page 175 of Dr. Braver's book he states that:
"The most important pathway to a father's feeling parentally enfranchised ... (i.e. that his role as a father is important) is having an ex-wife who desires ... supports and encourages his involvement ... (with his child and/or children), as compared to one who wants ... (him) altogether out of the way."
On the same page, Dr. Braver also stated that:
"In a large proportion of divorces, the mother sees little value in any contact between child and father. She doesn't want to have to accommodate his desires or tastes as a father. Instead, she wishes to be rid of him and his influence ..."
Not Once in 30 years: In like manner, Focus on the Family seems to have same attitude about divorced fathers as the single mothers described above: i.e. that while they may be of help in raising the Kids, they are NOT necessary, and in fact, can easily be replaced by another man. I say this because in one of the seven letters that I wrote them, when I asked why they have yet to take the time to interview a former dad like myself (in over 9,000 interviews on family related topics), they told me it was because their "Broadcast division (staff) ... regularly receive hundreds of compelling and significant ideas ... " but "nonetheless, they'll be certain to give this topic consideration ..." In another letter they told me that "there are simply no easy answers" as they wished me "all the best in the days ahead." including "God's grace, peace and blessings ..." This is like saying: "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled" to someone who is hungry and in need of shelter, while sending them on their way with nothing more than mons-bots (i.e. good words).
In other words, they will "think" about it ... (perhaps) ... for another 30 years ???
In I John 3:16-18 and James 2:15-16 we see what God thinks of doing nothing to fix a problem that is within your power to change: or at the very least, to alert your listening audience to the wolves that are dressing in sheep's clothing and tearing up the sheep. See also Malachi 4:5-6 to see what God thinks of separating fathers from their children by unethical means, such as malice and Greed, and/or for frivolous reasons: and note that doing so will bring a curse upon the whole land.
In fact, it's because of God's grace, blessing, and direction that I am writing this today: and because I believe He has told me to do so.
The above assertion that Focus on the Family really doesn't care (all that much) about divorced fathers is also seen by their "Father Substitute" policy that they have been teaching to single moms for many years. I.e. that fathers are not that difficult to replace.
In addition, I also took the time to perform various Internet searches that further confirm the above. For example, a Google search for "James Dobson" + "todays program" + "single moms" produced 48 hits: vs. 1 for the same with "single dads". In like manner "Jim Daly" + "todays program" + "single moms" yielded 79 hits: vs. 0 for "single dads." And substituting the above "todays program" with "radio program" produced 175 hits for "single moms" : vs. 1 for "single dads." Likewise if we substitute the above with "single mothers" we get 179 hits, vs. 2 for "single fathers."
What should we expect? In other words, before divorce, how much time does the average mother spend with her kids, vs. the average father? The answer was not that difficult to obtain. According to a recent Russell Sage Foundation study, in the year 2000, the average mother spent 12.9 hours a week playing with and teaching her children, vs. 6.5 hours a week for the average father. This is about 66 percent vs. 34 percent. However after divorce the average custodial time that the children are in a mother's care is somewhere between 80-100 percent, while the average father's custodial time with his children drops by whatever is left over, and in about 20 percent of cases, fathers don't even get to "visit" their children at all: even when there was no abuse, and when such was NOT what he nor his child, or children, wanted.
For example, in my case it was because I ran out of money for an attorney, plus a private mediator --- after paying them roughly $50,000 over a 5 and 1/2 year period. In fact, the time that I got to spend with my Daughter after my former spouse and I separated was exactly proportional to the amount of money I was willing to pay to the family court's cohort of Crooks: over and above "child support." At one time they had me paying almost Five times more than my monthly "Child Support": One payment to mom, and Four to the family court's cohort of professional Liars, thieves and kidnappers. And not long after I stopped paying them, they "terminated" my parental rights altogether and gave sole legal custody to mom.
Randy S. Berg
Deadbeats or Beatdeads?
Where Have all "D" Father's Gone?
The Philosophy of Father Replacement