Friday, April 07, 2006

Should umarried men be paid to be take care of their kids? A story in Thursday's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports on a speech by Harvard University sociologist Orlando Patterson (photo). Speaking at the University of Pittsburgh he noted that 40 percent of American children will spend some time without a father present. More than 60 percent of African-American children live in single-parent households, nearly all headed by women. Dr. Patterson said African-American boys from single-parent homes have lower grades, lower scores on standardized tests and finish fewer years of school. He said many of these kids, raised by single mothers display "an exaggerated masculinity in adolescence...in searching for role models these boys turn to the most aggressive boys, the ones who run gangs, as father substitutes." According to the article,

Some researchers have said that many men are discouraged from taking jobs because so much of their pay goes for child support, but Dr. Patterson suggested that if they could see their money was going directly to their children instead of to a bureaucracy, that attitude might change.

He also condemned the "war on drugs" and draconian sentences for drug sales, and said a closely monitored program in which men would support their children and spend more time with them might be an effective alternative to prison.

"'It is time we started teaching parenting in the schools in a serious way," he said. "The most important skill in the world is being a parent, but we don't teach it."
I'm not sure I support the idea of subsidies to men who deliberately avoid marrying the mother of their children. I do support the concept of teaching parenting. He is absolutely right. It is the most important skill in the world. Fathering is just as important as mothering, but there are too few good role models for boys to emulate.


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