First, the notion that any person has a so-called “right” to parent is wrong and self serving. Viewed properly, only children have rights, and parents have obligations. Every youngster should the right to two parents; two parents that love and cherish their children above all else.
Too often, one parent (usually the father but sometimes the mother, too) becomes marginalized from the lives of children in the wake of the demise of the parents’ relationship. In the extreme these are cases of Parental Alienation, meaning: one parent ‘programming’ a child to denigrate the other, ‘targeted’ parent. The effect undermines and interferes with the child’s relationship with that parent, such that the child emotionally rejects the targeted parent, and a capable and loving parent is lost to that child.
More common than might be expected, the consensus is: severe parental alienation rises to the level of being child abuse. Children alienated from a parent consistently suffer from low self esteem and self-hatred, lack of trust, depression, and substance abuse and other forms of addiction.
Focusing on the loss of the fathers’ role in Parenting, most contemporary scholarship on fathers comes from a deficit model, focusing on men’s inadequacies as parents. The better perspective is to be a Generative Father.
The concept of “Generative Fathering”–meaning fathering over generations of children– is a process of fathers turning their hearts to the children to bless the lives of children, their own lives, and their communities. Generative fathering is hard work that falls into seven categories:
✓ Relationship work (working to create a healthy relationship)
✓ Stewardship work (providing for the physical needs and safety of children)
✓ Development work (changing to meet changing needs)
✓ Ethical work (teaching children values and helping them to relate with others in moral ways)
✓ Spiritual work (working to help child obtain purpose and joy)
✓ Recreation work (helping children relax and have fun)
✓ Mentoring work (Helping older children learn skills to be a successful parent)
Being an effective Generative Father may be a challenging, long term project, one that does not yield immediate results. Nevertheless, truly effective fathering more likely to be satisfying to adults and provide the necessary care for children.