The world still needs a slew of good men, authentic fathers, despite what the intelligentsia would have us believe. Register file photo

Sr. Helena Burns: Why we desperately need good fathers

  • September 23, 2020

The ever-deepening crisis of authentic fatherhood (doing the tough job of being a father/parent and not just a buddy) and fatherlessness in families today is taking a steep toll.

The stats aren’t pretty. We’ve known for decades that young men without fathers are much more likely to join gangs and wind up in prison. Young women without fathers are much more likely to be promiscuous and wind up with Mr. Wrong. Single moms are heroines, but “they were never meant to carry the burden of parenting alone” (movie: Courageous).

We need the unique love of a father and the unique love of a mother if at all possible. The good news is that stats also show that father figures and male mentors can work wonders.

Why are there only Disney princesses and not princes? Why have we flipped to stories only about young female empowerment and are neglecting proper young male empowerment? Do we really want all that testosterone wildly misdirected?

Young men need to “see themselves,” see role models of how to gloriously channel all their energies and “masculine genius” as well. We ignore the healthy development of our young men at our own peril. Have you noticed that Antifa seems to be primarily young white males hell-bent on destruction?

If there is no fatherly influence, if society doesn’t signal to young males (rites of passage are crucial) that they are now men and not boys, what their responsibilities are and that they are the protectors of women and children — they can become perpetual adolescents and/or the takers/aggressors/predators themselves.

Once, when I was speaking to seventh grade boys about protecting women from evil, I asked them: “What evil?” In unison, they hung their heads and said earnestly and sadly: “Us.” “Um, OK,” I replied, what other kind of evil?” They couldn’t think of anything else, so I helped them out: “The evil that Satan wants to do to us, the evil you guys want to do to us and the evil we want to do to ourselves.” (They were greatly heartened by this.)

Ridiculous, unhelpful concepts and impossibilities like “toxic masculinity” and “getting rid of the patriarchy” need to be replaced with realities like “authentic masculinity” and correcting/renewing the patriarchy in every age (“patriarchy” meaning power structures that also include women — see Jordan Peterson), as well as reinforcing the good that men are and do in society. Is fatherhood in crisis? Let’s rehabilitate it because we desperately need it.

Let’s retire the false idea that because there are many bad, absentee, abusive and neglectful fathers, we don’t need fathers or we’d be better off without them. How do you know you had/have a bad father? You must have an understanding of what a good father is! And they do exist!

God is that good father we wish we had. He is the ultimate model. And then we have St. Joseph, of course — a little closer to home and easier to imitate.

But men can’t become better in a vacuum, just like women can’t. We’re in this together. The masculine and feminine fall or rise together. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body says: “All differences are a call to communion” — a call to put our uniqueness, our strengths and weaknesses together. What one doesn’t have, the other does. We are called to work together, help each other, supply for each other, build each other up, love each other.

The primordial relationship, the first society, is the male-female alliance. It’s where new people come from and are formed. If we can fix this, we can solve 90 per cent of the world’s problems. As a Mississauga couple (with four boys) like to say of themselves: “We’re like brownies and ice cream. Good separately, but so much better together.”

Men: Don’t get your clues from an emasculated culture. Don’t listen to identity politics, political correctness, the mainstream media or radical feminists. Listen to God, the Scriptures, Theology of the Body and women of God who want you to be the men and fathers (physical and spiritual) that God created you to be. Does the world need a few good men? How about a slew of good men.

(Sr. Helena, fsp, is a Daughter of St. Paul. She holds a Masters in Media Literacy Education and studied screenwriting at UCLA. Twitter: @srhelenaburns)

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