- The Washington Times - Friday, May 22, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Lifetime’s new television show “Deadbeat Dads” not only is misleading in its content but also intentionally seeks to demean divorced fathers in the eyes of their children and society (“Anti-Dad bias,” Editorial, Monday). Your editorial goes far to correct the disinformation contained in this purported “reality” show.

Far more valuable to the nation would be a show based on the reality that 82 percent of those who have lost jobs thus far in this recession are men. Programs focusing on how the family court system rapidly and cheaply can adjust child-support payments to the reality of a divorced father’s income loss would provide a much greater benefit to the children of divorce than misleading programs on “deadbeat dads.”

What about a “Malicious Moms” program? Wives initiate divorce upward of 70 percent of the time, and mothers are awarded physical custody in a majority of the cases, along with child support and alimony. By contrast, fathers are awarded the responsibility of paying child support and the right to be a “visitor” in their children’s lives - a right sometimes interfered with by malicious moms who seek to marginalize or sever the father-child relationship.

Balance is critical in evaluating the consequences of divorce for the children. Society has a vested interest in balance. Recent research indicates that fathers have a more powerful influence than mothers do in attenuating high-risk behaviors in adolescents and young adults. This research suggests that father-child relationships should be nourished rather than demonized for the simple reason that high-risk behaviors are harmful to individuals and to society.

GORDON E. FINLEY



Professor of psychology

Florida International University

Miami

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