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Throwaway Dads

The Myths and Barriers That Keep Men from Being the Fathers They Want to Be

by Ross D. Parke, Armin A. Brott
Book review Copyright © 1999 by Bert H. Hoff

 

Ross D. Parke, Armin A. Brott, Throwaway Dads: The Myths and Barriers That Keep Men from Being the Fathers They Want to Be (New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin, 1999). Order on-line



Book cover
Throwaway Dads: The Myths and Barriers That Keep Men from Being the Fathers They Want to Be.
by Ross D. Parke, Armin A. Brott
Order on-line
Reviews
Amazon.com
Even if we don't believe in the myth of Ward Cleaver and other old TV dads any more, most of us aren't really sure what to believe instead. Evidence is mounting that our confusion about fatherhood is affecting our children and helping to create a climate of lowered expectations and poor self-esteem. Throwaway Dads breaks down many of the barriers men must confront to become good fathers, and suggests new ways in which men, women, and our culture can view this role in the hope of turning the disturbing trend around and raising happier, healthier kids.

Psychologist Ross Parke and parenting writer Armin A. Brott combine research on fatherhood with practical alternatives to current thinking to create a feisty, thought-provoking read. Why do most media images of fathers show them as incompetent, lazy, or frightening? Studies suggest that these stereotypes are far from reality but stick in our minds nonetheless, creating a difficult environment for men to nurture children. In fact, say Parke and Brott, most men are doing their best in the absence of formal guidelines, and paternal involvement is crucial for children to develop independence, social skills, and school performance. By encouraging "parenting partnerships" and new images of men as concerned, active parents, the authors hope to reverse our current direction and make the concept of throwaway dads a thing of the past. --Rob Lightner

The New York Times Book Review, Sally Abrahms
Ross D. Parke and Armin A. Brott ... examine myths of the lazy, bumbling, inconsequential and deadbeat father they believe are promoted by mothers, the popular media, employers and obstetricians.


From Kirkus Reviews , November 15, 1998
A wide-ranging, cool-headed response to the current predilection for dissing all the dads. Although the tide may be turning, there is still a strong tendency in the media and elsewhere to blame fathers for much of what is wrong with the American f amily: deadbeat dad is a favorite epithet, absent fathers a prevalent image. Parke (Psychology/Univ. of Calif., Riverside; Fathers, 1981) and Brott (The New Father: A Dad's Guide to the Toddler Years, not reviewed) set out to correct those prejudices, plu s other negative mythic notions about the paterfamilias. A prevalent assumption: Though it's good to have a father around, its still not so important to the childs development. Contradicting this, the authors cite studies suggesting that not only do teena gers with involved fathers tend to stay the course in school, getting better grades, but fathers who play with their children from the earliest years significantly influence intellectual and emotional development. Other myths reassessed include the idea t hat fathers are inferior caretakers, that theyre dangerous or even abusive, and that theyre lazy and irresponsibleas well as bumbling and useless. Analyzing both the men's and women's movements, Parke and Brott conclude that neither is getting across the message that ``fathers matter.'' Moreover, they argue, women's organizations have been particularly damaging to the cause with their embrace of such tactics as opposing joint custody. The final chapter lists the sometimes deceptively simple actions that m en, women, and their communities can take to encourage fathering. An important step in illuminating many of the issuesignorance, false assumptions, and power strugglesthat hold men back from full participation in raising their children. (Author tour) -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Book Description
Are fathers really important? Of course they are. Yet we as a society have wittingly and unwittingly built nearly insurmountable barriers that restrict men's involvement with their children and families. Parke and Brott explode the myths of neglectful, uninterested, abusive, deadbeat, and lazy dads with real-life studies and statistics. They explain why the largely negative portrayal of fathers in books, television, and the movies is both inaccurate and harmful, training young boys and girls to see men as having little or no role in the family. The authors also examine in balanced fashion the dubious achievements of both the men's and women's movements in reevaluating men's and women's roles.

Complete with proposals for steps that men, women, employers, the medical community, the media, and the government can take to promote men's involvement in their children's lives, Parke and Brott offer a comprehensive look at how our entire society can experience the benefits and joys of active fatherhood.

Synopsis
From a noted researcher on fatherhood and a leading author on the art of being a father comes a provocative and persuasive account of the crisis of contemporary fatherhood. Complete with proposals for steps that men, women, employers, the medical community, the media, and the government can take to promote men's involvement in their children's lives, the authors offer a comprehensive look at how our entire society can experience the benefits and joys of active fatherhood.


Customer Comments
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars Number of Reviews: 2

A reader from U.S. , March 18, 1999 5 out of 5 stars
A stunning counterpoint to the "deadbeat dad" myth
At last, a book on fathers that shows insight and compassion on the challenges facing fathers. Provides a good historical perspective. Good antidote to radical feminism.

Tim Barden (tim@choreographics.com) from Vermont , February 26, 1999 5 out of 5 stars
Thoughtful... Thought Provoking... Truthful...
Well researched and written in a similar voice as Sanford Braver and Diane O'Connell's "Divorced Dads : Shattering the Myths", Park and Brott's "Throwaway Dads" should be considered a necessary companion volume. "Throwaway Dads" adds to the latter in many important ways. It includes a full discussion of the sociopolitical origins of the current climate of "dad bashing", as well as a "eye's open" criticism of the inability of the fractured factions of men's and father's rights organizations to do anything effective to counter it thus far.

Parents and policy makers should read this book while thinking about the climate of paradox, inequity and, often outright hatred of fathers we have created. A climate that await our own sons. All the inequities in the treatment of fathers currently found in the media, courts, state and federal government agencies will likely be visited upon them too, once they become fathers. The authors offer many suggestions for changes to the legal and political climate that would serve to reposition fathers as significant, valuable and necessary partners in parenthood. This book is a well written addition to discussion of the topic.

While reading this book at the local coffee house, I witnessed the following exchange between two women in their early twenties. An exchange that illustrates one of "Throwaway Dads" basic premises. That, with the exception of financial support, father's are now oftentimes extraneous. I was at the same time, shocked and saddened.

Woman One (ecstatic) - "I'm pregnant!"

Woman Two (also excited) - "Really... Do you know who's it is?"

Woman One (more ecstatic) - "No!"

Woman Two - "Do you care???"

Woman One (even more ecstatic) - "No!"

It was a clear illustration of how little perceived value fathers have to many people today. Especially those who have grown up within a culture that dismisses so readily their value. This woman clearly did not perceive any value in her child knowing who her father is, let alone having him in her life.

While considering the scene I had just witnessed, a play on the phrase "Out of sight, Out of mind" came to mind. "Out of Sight (Invisible), Out of Mind (Insanity)"... "Invisible, Insanity".

We have made our fathers "Invisible", and it is... "Insanity".

 


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