A "New" Role for Men: UN Releases Publication on
the Role of Fathers
In a somewhat surprising
deviation from its usual habit of focusing almost exclusively on "women
and the girl child," the UN recently released its publication Men in
Families and Family Policy in a Changing World.
Written by a team of "experts"on family issues, the publication seeks
the issue of the evolving roles of men in families and the corresponding need
to develop social policies supporting these new
roles for the benefit of families." [emphasis added]
United Families International had a representative at the gathering in New York
as two of the authors explained their work - and their worldview
There is much that is
laudable about the publication. It seeks to promote knowledge on issues
impacting the family - something that is sorely needed within the UN system -
and it recognizes men in their role as valuable contributors to the well-being
But what contribution
should men be making and what does the role of men look like to these experts?
It can perhaps best be summed in the
phrase "men's caring competencies." Here's the
translation: men need to be supportive of gender equality (women's
rights) and they need to do their share of caring for children and take equal
responsibility for the demands of a household. I think we might all agree
that men need to be engaged in family life in ways that perhaps prior
generations of fathers were not. But is the worldview and motive of this
publication as simple as that?
After a quick perusal
of the new Men in Families publication, Stephen
Baskerville, author of Taken
Into Custody: The War Against Fathers, Marriage, and the Family, remarked:
"This document seems to be trying
to convey an important message about the importance of fathers, but it is so
encumbered with ideologically correct platitudes that that message is
obfuscated. Fathers are critical to children, and insisting that they be
more like mothers - the price for being allowed to be fathers - defeats the
Some new terms to add
to your dictionary.
Social Father: when a man takes de facto
responsibility for a child, an unrelated male, (a step-father, a live-in
boyfriend, an involved neighbor)
Bean-pole families: few children, few relatives,
not a "web," but a "bean-pole" structure; "the family
of the future."
Father-support deficit: a man isn't carrying his share
of support for his child -emotional, financial, time invested, etc.
Global agenda for
women: full acceptance of women's rights and gender equality.
Men must be supportive of or be "retrained."
providing for both men and women to spend equal time at home caring for and
involved with their children. Suggests modification of employment
law (things like paternity leave) to meet this goal.
Men's caring competencies: men accepting their role as
nurturers and caregivers, be it a home and in his personal life or in a
professional capacity as well (nurses, teachers, day-care,
"nurturing" professions). Discussion of modification of
education curriculum to "improve and promote men's caring
It was the questions
that gave the most clarity.
As the formal presentation of this new
report wound down, many hands went into the air and there were a fair number of
pro-family individuals in the room. The moderator took three to four
questions before the presenters were asked to respond. An elderly
gentleman asked: "Good
things have come from the women's movement, but is there research that women
might have given up too much?" A woman
passionately inquired: "How
did we get so off track and not point all of our research toward determining
what is best for children!" UFI representatives asked
the presenters if they could address why there are so many government programs
that seem to incentivize couples not to marry.
Thomas Jacobson of
Focus on the Family then commented: "My heart is grieved. I've
heard honest, but negative attitudes toward men. What has been lost
in this conversation - and it appears in this publication - is the complementary
aspects of what a mother and a father bring to a child." Jacobsen
then inquired as to whether or not the researchers had made an effort to
distinguish between the outcomes for children from intact married families and
the outcomes from cohabiting or alternative families.
Now it was the
presenters' turn to respond. Gary
think it is important to remember that there are different cultures and what is
a normal in the Global North/West is not the same everywhere. What a
family looks like is different around the world; the needs of children can be
met in different ways. There is no difference in the
contribution of a man or a woman."
"Besides, there's nothing innate about hearing a baby cry at night and
getting up... There's nothing innate that you need to have to change a diaper
... There's nothing innate or biological necessary to care for a baby, other
than breastfeeding.... What needs to be remembered is that four hands are
better than two...."
Thomas Jacobsen questioned
him further and asked if he was familiar with all of the research showing
superior outcomes for children that come from an intact natural family.
Barker replied that he'd read some of it, but closed with an emphatic: "It doesn't matter who the four
As though to reassure
everyone that his intentions were good, Mr. Barker remarked: "We do want to see some
"'social engineering.' I know it's an ugly word, but we think
it will help everyone." The meeting ended.
What does all this
After the event's conclusion,
Thomas Jacobsen responded privately about the verbal exchange: "Mr.
Barker is obviously not familiar with the mountain of research that shows the
tremendous advantage that is bestowed upon a child born into an intact family
and raised by its married mother and father. He's completely
discounting that a mother has a bond with her child that is forged in the
womb. He completely discounts the physiological and chemical changes that
come to a mother from carrying, delivering and then breastfeeding a
child. To him, breastfeeding was just a food delivery system that had no
other significance or value to the baby - or to the mother. The mother
just had some extra equipment - that's all..."
Unfortunately, as Mr. Barker
clearly stated, the social engineering continues. Although we praise the
attempt by the UN to bring men and their contribution and needs into the
dialogue, we wonder about the "experts" involved and their rejection
of the research and the reality - biology matters. We at United Families
International reject the notion that equality equals sameness and that
"any four hands" will do. We will continue to support policies
that sustain the intact natural family as the foundation of a stable and
productive society. Please join us!
To see the full report of Men
in Families, go here.