Posts Tagged ‘Fatherhood’

The State of Fatherhood – Florida International University

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, Liberty, Marriage, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Restraining Orders, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine on July 31, 2009 at 2:30 am

“Divorce marginalizes or severs a father’s relationship with his child,” he says. “In reality, the father becomes a visitor in his or her life. He is no longer a father in the very literal sense.”

“Children of divorce really miss their fathers” the reports goes on to state. Is it hard for mothers to care about their children enough to let them see their dads? It is time for moms to put their anger aside, and really, really consider the children.

FIU lab investigates the state of fatherhood

By Sissi Aguila

Family roles have changed substantially since the 1950s. Mom now works outside the home. And dad is expected to be more involved in raising the kids. But as parental roles and responsibilities become less defined, psychologists question: Are there essential characteristics of fathering versus mothering?

FIU’s Fatherhood Lab explores these issues and Psychology Professor Gordon Finley, who runs the lab, focuses specifically on how divorce impacts fathers and the development of their children. Finley has found that a father’s role is unique and far too often neglected by the family court system.

Using questionnaires and a retrospective technique in which he asked 1,989 young adults to think back on their relationship with their fathers, Finley found that children of divorce really miss their fathers. According to Finley, they are denied a relationship with them because of present-day family law and court practices.

“Divorce marginalizes or severs a father’s relationship with his child,” he says. “In reality, the father becomes a visitor in his or her life. He is no longer a father in the very literal sense.”

Risky behaviors

For decades, researchers focused on motherhood when studying parenting. Today more attention is being paid to fathers, and the data is consistently showing that fathers are vital to raising happy, healthy and successful children. “They contribute more than bringing home the bacon,” Finley says.

The statistics are alarming: children from fatherless homes account for 63 percent of youth suicides, 85 percent of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders and 71 percent of all high school dropouts. And 37 percent of fathers have no access or visitation rights to their children.

Finley’s research indicates that fathers are more effective at attenuating high-risk behaviors such as sex, drugs and other criminal activities. These behaviors also involve high social costs.

Yet Finley says that his findings on fatherhood do not match today’s social reality or family policy. In divorce cases, the father rarely gets custody (only in about 15 percent of cases) and shared parenting is not equal. Fathers usually see their children only once a week and two weekends a month.

A girl needs her dad

Finley’s findings also suggest that parent-children relationships are not as much about identification or imitation, as once thought, but about transaction. The way a girl learns to become a woman is through her interaction with her father. That will determine how she will relate to men in her adult life.

His study concluded that girls experience a greater impact by divorce than boys.

“The real cost is actually to the daughters of divorce. They don’t have relationships with their fathers. So when they enter adolescence and start questioning whether to have sex, they don’t have a realistic idea of what men are like.”

When evaluating the consequences of divorce for children, balance is critical, says Finley. Society has a vested interest in balance.

Informing social policy

The take-home message, according to Finley, is simple: “Fathers matter. Children need their fathers and, as it turns out, fathers need their children,” he says.

Divorced fathers are eight to 10 times more likely to commit suicide than divorced mothers.  They also are higher on most indices of personal and social distress than divorced mothers.

Social policy, Finley argues, needs to catch up to the research: “Family law should be based on social science research – not ideology.”

Finley is a frequent contributor to journals that influence public policy. His study, “Father Involvement and Long Term Young Adult Outcomes: The Differential Contributions of Divorce and Gender,” was published by Family Court Review, an interdisciplinary communication forum for judges, attorney, mediators and professionals in the mental health and human services.

Earlier this year, Finley’s work provided the background for an article on divorced fathers and their adult offspring written for the American Bar Association’s Family Law Journal by Judith Wallerstein.  She is a leading psychologist and researcher who conducted a 25-year study on the effects of divorce on the children involved. Wallerstein has had considerable influence on the California court system.

Says Finley, “Today my goals are to continue research but also to shift the foundation of family policy from outdated ideology to current social science through increased public and governmental awareness.”


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FIU lab investigates the state of fatherhood | News at FIU – Florida International University.

Jill Brooke: Do Men Become Better or Worse Fathers After Divorce?

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Support, child trafficking, Civil Rights, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, Homeschool, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Marriage, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Restraining Orders, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine on July 21, 2009 at 5:04 pm

Do Men Become Better or Worse Fathers After Divorce?

If divorce is the future of duplicitous two-timers Gov. Mark Sanford to reality TV’s Jon Gosselin, these men will have to navigate co-parenting. However, a growing trend shows that many men become better parents post-divorce, to the surprise of ex-wives who find it difficult to grasp that a man who wasn’t a good husband can indeed be a good father.

Take the example of Peter Giles.

When Peter Giles’ three daughters were toddlers, work consumed him at the expense of family life. The New York businessman would justify the absences as doing the right thing for his family since he was providing the financial womb while his wife was taking care of their other needs.

What finally made him a better father? Getting a divorce.

“The divorce was such a shock and forced me to take stock of who I was and what success should look like,” said Giles, whose ex-wife Nancy Claus sought a divorce in 2001. “I came to realize that I had been providing for my children but needed to be more to them. ”

Like the majority of divorcing men today, Giles sought joint legal custody, which courts are more willing to grant since a federal study shows that men paid child support 90 percent of the time in comparison to less than 45 percent when the mother had sole custody.

When his daughters visited, Giles morphed into a multi-tasker taking on chores previously done by his wife including cooking, buying cosmetics and remembering to buy eggs and bacon at the market.

“I wish he would have been as involved and helpful when we were married,” said Claus. “But he has definitely become a much better Dad after our divorce.”

He is not alone.

“When a father is away from the stress of a failed marriage, he can be more relaxed and more reflective and as a result enjoy being more fully involved with his children,” said Don Gordon, professor emeritus of psychology at Ohio University and the director of the Center for Divorce Education.

David Gestl, the divorced father of four in Stewartstown, Pennsylvania, agrees, adding how it’s a relief not to argue about parenting styles which allows the father to develop his own.

“In my marriage, I was always walking on eggshells and getting criticized,” he said. “Recently after I made dinner, my son shook his chocolate milk and it went flying everywhere. I could say, just relax it’s nothing a paper towel won’t pick up. It’s okay to make a mistake and fix it. ”

One benefit to divorce is that with scheduled rationed time, each parent doesn’t take it for granted and can have more single minded focus with their kids.

CNBC anchor Dennis Kneale says divorce has made him “vastly closer ” to his 9-year-old daughter Jing-Jing. “In many families, mom is the center of everything and the husband is the supporting player,” he observed. “But with divorce, I have had more one on one time with her in ways I never did before.”

In a study on non-residential fathers, researcher Paul Amato from Pennsylvania State University found that the percentage of non-residential fathers being involved with their children more than tripled from 8 percent in the 1970’s to 26 percent in 2000’s.

A recent study by Kathleen Gerson, professor of sociology at New York University and author of ” The Unfinished Revolution:How a New Generation is Reshaping Family, Work,
and Gender in America” found the number to be 27 percent.

“Large numbers of contemporary fathers are doing their best to fulfill their responsibilities as parents despite the limitations of not residing with their children,” said Amato. “It’s time to recognize, value and support the commitment of these men to their children.”

Experts say that the rise of more involved fathers post-divorce is based on several factors that collectively aligned like shooting stars and is preventing what one organization calls, “a parentdectomy.”

A kid-focus culture for starters has helped cement ties.

Dr. Warren Farrell points out that pop culture’s parenting focus expanded the definition of a man’s identity. In one study tracking data from 1965-1998, married men had doubled their direct child care involvement. “More men put in the effort early which created deeper attachments that fathers didn’t want to lose,” said Farrell, who is also the author of “Father and Child Reunion.” Hence, more requests for joint custody.

Technology has also helped prevent or reduce what is called parental alienation where in the past the residential parent may – consciously or unconsciously – block contact either out of her resentment towards the father or because she has remarried and is protecting the stepfather relationship. A study by J. Annette Vanini and Edward Nichols found that 77 percent of noncustodial fathers faced some form of visitation interference.

But now fathers can give their kids pre-paid cell phones to insure contact. Divorce contracts are also often written to permit contact through email accounts.

Ted Rubin, a Huntington Long Island divorced dad to two girls, admits to using Facebook to keep in contact with his kids. “Sometimes when we speak on the phone I can tell if Mom is standing there and then later my daughter will contact me on Facebook,” he said. “A lot of Dads complain that moms could stand in the way of communication but now it’s almost impossible because kids are so tech savvy.”

In fact, Rubin, who has a contentious divorce with his ex-wife, says that email helps divorced parents diminish “the nastiness is our dialogues” which the kids would overhear on the phone. Now he can email what time he’s picking up the kids and delivering them without any verbal warfare.

Another big boost for continued contact has been videoconferencing. In 2002, Utah resident Michael Gough worried that his ex-wife’s relocation to Wisconsin would wipe out his parental involvement. Considering that less than 10 percent of divorces go to trial, he fought to have the right to videoconference with his daughter. Utah was the first state to pass legislation for virtual visitation in 2004.

“It costs me thousands of extra dollars to go to court but as a result there is now a statute for videoconferencing that other judges and attorneys can refer to and follow,” said Gough, who now runs a website called internetvisitation.org. Because of his efforts, Wisconsin, Florida and Texas all passed similar legislation and North Carolina did this month.

“With videoconferencing, I was able to read bedtime stories, help her with her homework and even watch her open up a present,” said Gough, with genuine sentimentality.

Schools are also helping divorced parents co-parent on neutral ground. While some wives would raise their eyebrows like thunderbolts when an ex-husband would arrive at the sports field, schools are not playing favorites.

“My ex-wife interpreted the divorce agreement that if I arrived at my son’s soccer game that it should only be when I had him for an overnight,” said Eric Ryerson, a nurse in Eugene, Oregon and father to an 11-year-old son. “But I want to see him more than my custody arrangement and by coming to sports events and volunteering at school, I can see him more.”

Ryerson went to the school and volunteered to be a chaperone for class trips, signed his name to contact forms and also spoke to coaches to provide information on his son’s soccer and baseball games.

“I asserted myself to be present and got rewarded for it,” said Ryerson. “I also got to meet his classmates and interacted with them.” Ryerson recalls fondly how in second grade he was nicknamed Mr. Pushy because he eagerly pushed his son’s friends on the swings. “My son told me he liked it when I came to school.”

In fact, research shows that the kids do like it when both parents are present.

“They have fewer behavior and emotional problems, higher self-esteem and better school performance than children in sole custody arrangements,” said Glenn Sacks, the National Executive Director of Fathers & Families. “When researchers have examined children of divorce, and studied and queried adult children of divorce, they’ve found that most prefer joint custody and shared parenting.”

For example, in one Arizona State University study of college students who experienced their parents’ divorces while they were children, over two-thirds believe that living equal times with each parent is the best arrangement. A Harvard University study also confirmed that children in joint custody settings fared much better than kids living in sole custody households.

While many men acknowledge progress, some still complain that the system treats fathers as second-class citizens when asking for more time with their children.

As Gary Nicholson, the president of the American Association of Marital Attorneys, explains, part of the problem is that various state laws tie child support payments to the amount of time a father is with their child. Payments can be adjusted if the father spends as much as 100 nights with his child so many mothers resist giving 50-50 splits and are angered by the request.

Said Nicholson, “Are there folks who look at this economically and think if I have equal time I won’t have to pay as much child support? Yes. But the majority of dads want to be involved in their kid’s lives. They feel they should be equal partners.”

As the nation sees more divorced families, more parents have learned that even though the marriage is over, they are forever linked as co-parents. Cultural cues also encourage that they should love their children more than they hate their spouse. Over time, many hard feelings thaw and enhanced appreciation can ensue.

Deb Rabino, a New York based make-up artist, learned to admire her ex-husband’s parenting of their two sons so much that when he lost his job in the financial industry, she voluntarily reduced his alimony and child support payments.

“He definitely became a better father after our divorce,” she said. “He honored his support of us and now it was our turn to help him out.”

The increased connection between children and fathers also results in other sacrifices as well. Michael Gough says videoconferencing helped get him more involved with his daughter. “My participation reminded me I have a daughter who needed me otherwise it could have been out of sight, out of mind.” Because his wife later relocated to Austin, Texas, Gough now found a new job to be near his daughter.

“Videoconferencing really helped us stay closer,” said Gough. “But it still can’t replace seeing my daughter and getting a hug.”

Like many men, he is getting remarried and may start a new family.

As Stephanie Coontz, the Director of Research and Public Education at the Council on Contemporary Families, observes, men have for more than 150 years tended to think of the responsibility of kids as a package deal. When the relationship split up, they’d walk away and start new families. “But we’re seeing a growing number of men separting from their wives but not their children,” she said.

Do you have any doubt that recent divorced dads including Dylan McDermott, Robin Williams, Russell Simmons or Guy Ritchie won’t enjoy time with their kids? All have said how much it means to them.

Still, it can be very painful for ex-wives to see that their families are living lives without them – especially when spouses repartner. However, in time, this divorce therapist has seen many women realize that a break from 24/7 parenting can benefit everyone. And love is far more elastic and flexible than we think.

(This story will also be discussed on CBS’ “Early Show”)

Jill Brooke: Do Men Become Better or Worse Fathers After Divorce?.

Supreme Court takes on international child custody case – BostonHerald.com

In Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, kidnapped children, Marriage, mothers rights, Non-custodial fathers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Restraining Orders, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, Sociopath on July 3, 2009 at 2:53 pm

By Associated Press

Monday, June 29, 2009

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court agreed today to hear arguments in a child custody dispute between a Texas mother and a British father that tests the boundaries of an international treaty.

The court will take its first look at how American authorities handle the Hague Convention on child abduction, aimed at preventing one parent from taking children to other countries without the other’s permission.

Adding to the case’s interest, the Obama administration joined the call for court review by approvingly citing a dissenting appeals court opinion by Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor in a similar case.

If confirmed, Sotomayor would sit on the court that hears the case next term.

The United States is among more than 80 countries that follow the treaty.

In this case, Timothy Abbott accused his estranged wife, Jacquelyn Abbott, of violating a court order in Chile by taking their 10-year-old son to Texas without his consent. The child, born in Hawaii, is a U.S. citizen.

Timothy Abbott asked an American court to order the child returned to Chile, based on the treaty. The mother argued that she has exclusive custody of the boy and that U.S. courts are powerless under the treaty to order his return.

A federal judge acknowledged that taking the son to the United States violated the Chilean court order, but sided with the mother and the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed.

Only a parent who has custodial rights can invoke the treaty to try to get the child returned, the appeals court said.

Federal appeals courts in New York, Richmond, Va., and San Francisco have ruled the same way, but the appeals court in Atlanta has disagreed.

The issue for the justices is whether a foreign court order like the one issued in Chile conveys a right of custody to the parent who has been left behind.

The administration sided with Timothy Abbott in saying it does. A parent like Timothy Abbott “has the ability to decide whether or not the child may be taken outside of the country of habitual residence, and thus the right to share in the decision as to where the child will reside,” Solicitor General Elena Kagan wrote.

Kagan’s brief quotes from Sotomayor’s dissent in a case over a mother’s decision to move with her daughter from Hong Kong to New York without either a court’s permission or the father’s consent and in violation of a Hong Kong judge’s order.

A divided panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the mother. Sotomayor said such court orders limit a parent’s custodial rights to the country where the parents and child live.

Taking the child out of the country without the other parent’s consent is the situation the treaty was designed to prevent, she said.

The case is Abbott v. Abbott, 08-645

Fathers wanted, fathers needed

In Alienation of Affection, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children criminals, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, custody, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Feminism, Foster CAre Abuse, Freedom, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, kidnapped children, Liberty, Marriage, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Restraining Orders on July 3, 2009 at 2:20 pm

Fathers wanted, fathers needed

By Jesse Muhammad
Staff Writer | Last updated: Jul 3, 2009 – 8:55:36 AM

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Father’s Day, with its annual commercialized corporate advertisements and gift giving, has come and gone, but one group of men in America must continue year-round work to break the stereotype that they are irresponsible, no-good and indifferent towards parenting—the group of men is Black fathers.


‘I don’t have time to make excuses, because I have a baby on the way. Also, I have linked up with a few older men who are positive role models in my neighborhood because we as young males need guidance. I don’t want to be a ‘baby daddy.’ I want to be a father.’
—Robert Jackson, 18

Black children living in fatherless homes exceed 50 percent; single Black mothers are increasingly at the helm of households, not to mention the number of Black children having to talk to incarcerated fathers through a double pane of glass.While analysts and the media often focus on the problem, Dr. Rozario Slack and other advocates seek to counter the negative image with examples of Black men who are successful husbands, fathers and role models.

“We can’t just continue to point out the statistics. We already know them. But who is offering assistance to the men and being the example is the question. Where are those stories?” asked Dr. Slack.

Dr. Slack is the founder of Rozario Slack Enterprises in Chattanooga, Tenn. He travels across the country conducting seminars about marriage, fathering and other issues that impact children and families. He challenges Black men to develop healthy, wholesome family, and marital relationships. He has also published several books that offer real life tools.

“We help young men with pre-birth preparation, ways to avoid infidelity, financial management, and other means by which to save their families,” said Dr. Slack. He has been married over 16 years and has three children ages 13, 10, and 6.

“I am blessed to have an example in my parents who have been married for 58 years,” said Dr. Slack, who is also the head pastor of Temple of Faith Deliverance Church of God in Christ. “Divorce is far from my mind. We have to show that President Obama is only an example of other great Black husbands and fathers that exist. With all due respect, he is not the only one. Let’s push them out front.”

Strengthening relationships, providing services

To groups such as M3 Math & Science Academy in Berkeley, Calif., Black boys are the most important issue facing the Black community today. With one-third of all Black men in the country connected to the penal system and a more than 50 percent high school dropout rate, the situation is serious but the group hasn’t given up.

Since its inception, a central part of M3’s strategy has been getting more Black fathers involved in their sons’ lives, explained K.G. Charles-Harris, M3’s executive director. “Fathers are necessary for boys and the value of a father’s emotional support is irreplaceable,” said Mr. Charles-Harris.

“While the effort is still nascent, M3’s initial success bodes well for the future of the program,” said Prentice Parr, M3’s program manager. “The amount of involved fathers or male guardians has more than doubled over the past year. This is having a significant effect on the boy’s behavior and self-perception.”

In a study published in the Journal of Family Psychology, researchers found Black adolescent boys in households without a father are more at risk for developing low self-esteem compared with other Black adolescents. Further statistics noted that 69 percent of Black births are to unmarried women, compared to 25 percent for Whites.

According to the group Fathers Who Care, children from fatherless homes represent 71 percent of pregnant teenagers; 90 percent of all homeless and runaway children; 63 percent of youth suicides; 75 percent of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers; 70 percent of juveniles in state-operated institutions; 85 percent of all youth sitting in prison; and 85 percent of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders.

Fathers Who Care is a comprehensive,father friendly community social service initiative based in Chicago. It was created to help indigent custodial and non-custodial fathers. The group provides services designed to empower fathers to build positive relationships with their children, strengthen parental involvementskills and promote responsible fatherhood.

“Picking up your child, holding him or her and giving them a kiss and saying I love you, means more than money or a new toy. No man has a greater gift than to give of himself,” said Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.), who co-sponsored a Black males expo led by Fathers Who Care on June 6 in Chicago.

“One fact that continues to appear is that our children are in crisis, big time. And part of the reason for this crisis, I believe, is due to fathers not being regularly involved in the lives of their children,” said Congressman Davis.

‘I don’t want to be a ‘baby daddy,’ I want to be a father’

A good example of a father is what 18-year-old Robert Jackson of Dallas did not have growing up in the projects. “My mother has been the only father I knew and the drug dealers in the streets became my uncles at a young age. I was always getting in trouble. But now that I am about to have a child, I had to have a change in my lifestyle,” he told The Final Call.

His girlfriend is eight months pregnant. They just graduated from high school with no plans of attending college. “I did not expect this to happen so now I am looking for a job because I do not want to hustle out in these streets. But the economic times are so hard that young people such as me are finding it hard to get a job,” he said.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor statistics, the unemployment rate among Black teens is six times the national rate. That means over 295,000 Black teenagers are actively seeking employment.

“I think the surge in young males becoming fathers has contributed to the ongoing stereotypes of Black fatherhood because many of these young people are unprepared,” said Dr. Felicia Wilson, a psychologist based in Las Vegas. She mentors teenage girls who become pregnant in high school.

“Yes, the economic times are hard but we have to teach our youth responsibility when it comes to sex. Teen pregnancy is prevalent so it creates situations where young men are running off. But all of the boys are not running despite the media coverage,” said Dr. Wilson.

“I don’t have time to make excuses because I have a baby on the way. Also I have linked up with a few older men who are positive role models in my neighborhood because we as young males need guidance. I don’t want to be a ‘baby daddy.’ I want to be a father,” said Mr. Jackson.

Dr. Wilson pointed out that many Black males get imprisoned for not paying child support and struggle to have relationships with the mothers of their children.

“Many young girls listen to their peers. So even when the young man is doing the best he can, she may still file child support out of spite,” said Dr. Wilson. “Then the relationship between them begins to take a downward spiral and the child suffers. It’s a dismal cycle which can cause a Black male with a clean prison record to now have a warrant for his arrest for child support.”

Victor Jackson, of Houston, was 17-years-old when his baby girl Ashyri was born. Out of immaturity he says he allowed the mother of his child to make all of the decisions, which he regrets.

“I wish I would have taken charge of the situation but I did not know how,” Mr. Jackson, 26, told The Final Call. “She promised she would never file child support on me but once we separated she did otherwise.”

In 2004, Mr. Jackson had child support documents delivered at his doorstep saying he owed more than $17,000. Being without work due to having a dishonorable discharge from the military, he avoided an arrest warrant by staying with friends.

“When I filed my taxes this year, they took the entire $2,300 from me. It’s rough,” said Mr. Jackson. “But whenever I get any kind of money, I give it directly to her mother because I want to do for my child.”

New York-based hip hop artist and father NYOIL launched two initiatives to strengthen the presence of Black fathers in the lives of their children and help them find jobs. The programs are called Where is My Dad? and the EMP Initiative.

“The purpose of Where is My Dad? is to assist Black fathers by providing information to help in the re-imaging of the world’s view of us,” said NYOIL, a father of three children.

The EMP (Empathy, Employment & Powerment) is a partnership with Distinctive Personnel, which is one of the largest Latino staffing agencies in the county. Through EMP, Black fathers can get assistance with job searches, resumé writing, interviewing skills, career counseling and green jobs preparation.

“People who are employed are empowered. This is not about talk, but action,” said NYOIL. He also volunteers with the Tsunami Track Club based in Staten Island.

Houston-based hip hop artist Zin travels frequently to Fort Worth, Texas, to visit his eight-year-old daughter born from a previous marriage. “Even though her mother and I are divorced, we have worked to build a friendship because it’s all about what is best for our daughter. It’s still a struggle but just because you are not with the mother doesn’t mean you should abandon your children,” he said.

Although his parents are no longer a couple, 18-year-old college bound student Keith J. Davis Jr. has a model relationship with his father who instilled in him a desire to be an entrepreneur.

“My father taught me early on the skills of negotiating, marketing, accounting and sales. I have been doing this since the age of 10 when he was selling wholesale clothes out of his trunk,” said the young Mr. Davis. “Without my father in my life I would not be where I am. Both of my parents are my support system.”

His father, Keith Davis Sr., sits at the helm of a marketing firm that has been in existence for over 10 years. “I have always tried to lead by example, instead of telling Keith Jr. how to do something, I would show him. The best teacher is a good example. We have to take care of our children,” he said.

Fathers wanted, fathers needed.

United Nations and Fatherhood policies

In Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children criminals, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, custody, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, Freedom, Marriage, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parental Rights Amendment on July 3, 2009 at 2:13 pm

United Nations and Fatherhood policies

As global leaders in policy formulation the UN agencies are a rich source of inspiration about global initatives on fatherhood and it’s importance.

All agencies are committed to the UN Millenium Development Goals. Fathers must be included in the picture if the MDGs are to be most effectively met in sustainable ways. For almost every goal, the father’s role makes a difference, as does the mother’s. Men in families may influence child survival, growth and development through the decisions they make about resource allocation, through supporting women in decision making, through economic contributions to the family which make the seeking of care more possible and through their caring for children.

(See also the MDGs and Africa paper updated in 2007 (download at bottom of this page). We would love to develop our understanding of where committed fatherhood can achieve the MDGs and hope to do so to help with the achievement of the goals!

via :: africanfathers.org :: United Nations and Fatherhood policies.

A Girl’s First Hero – Her Father

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, children legal status, children's behaviour, Civil Rights, CPS, custody, deadbeat dads, Divorce, Domestic Relations, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fathers rights, Freedom, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Non-custodial fathers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parents rights on July 1, 2009 at 9:00 am

How dads inspire and support a daughter’s development


Last Updated: 16th June 2009, 5:45am

Hey, dads, what you sow now, your daughters will reap later.

How a woman feels about herself as a woman goes back to how dad treated his little girl, report experts.

“Behind every great woman, you will find her dad” — that’s if he was an engaged, present, involved dad, says Dr. Mary Jo Rapini.

Dad and daughter

“If dads are able to admire their daughters achievements, character and interests and not their looks, the daughter will grow up to be confident and self assured. She will choose men who treat her with the same admiration and respect as her dad did,” adds Rapini, a psychotherapist and author.

According to Rapini, a dad has so much power over his daughter.

“If he gives her gifts and focuses on her looks he will raise a girl who is more materialistic and thinks love and affection comes in a gift box.

“If he praises her looks all of the time, he will raise someone who loathes herself and is constantly checking to make sure she looks OK in a mirror — we do that enough anyway.

“If he focuses on her abilities and interests he will develop a daughter who is more self assured, confident and understands leadership.”

Studies show that dads give girls 90% of their self-esteem before the age of 12, she says. “What this means is that girls that grow up without a dad in the home, or one who abandoned them, are always going to be a little bit less confident and sure of themselves than peers who grow up with a dad in the home.”

According to Rapini, an involved, engaged dad will be viewed as the first man she ever loved, and someone who loves her unconditionally. “Unlike mom — who many daughters have emotional fights with — dads don’t get into all of the drama and are more accepting of them.

“Dads also have a way of redirecting a girl when she is being overly emotional. He can make her laugh and help her see the situation is not as bad as it appears. The daughter looks at dad as the type of man she wants to someday marry,” adds Rapini, co-author of Start Talking: A Girls Guide for You and Your Mom About Health, Sex or Whatever.

Dads need to be sure not to pull away from daughters during the teenage years, adds Dr. Venus Nicolino. “Many fathers feel uncomfortable with transformation from tween to teen — she’s no longer daddy’s little girl.

“A father needs to be there, emotionally available at all times but especially when he feels himself wanting to pull away during her teenage years. An emotionally available father can be the stabilizing force for a young woman. The little voice inside her that says, ‘I love you no matter what’, ” says Nicolino, a relationship expert.

She adds that the best thing a father can do for his daughter is to love her mother so that she will witness what to expect from the men in her life, and what she should not have to put up with.

“Having a father who loves her mother makes her more likely to go on to choose a man who will truly love her.”


Dr. Mary Jo Rapini suggests these five dosfor dads to positively impact his daughters:

– Focus on your daughter’s talents and make note of them.

– Focus on times you see her being respectful, confident, compassionate and compliment her.

– Help her/guide her in creating her vision, dreams and interests.

– Tell her she can be or do anything she puts her mind to.

– Talk less, do more with her, listen to her.


– Be controlling and tell her you will decide what is best for her.

– Tell her she is pretty and say it all the time so she becomes focused on being pretty.

– Tell her she is getting chubby. Really, if you focus on their body you will create a girl with lots of issues and she may never get over them.

– Fight with her mom and be disrespectful to her in front of your daughter.

– Tell her she is not very smart — “if you do this, I promise she will fulfil it.”

– Dr. Mary Jo Rapini

via A girl’s first hero | Life | Toronto Sun.

Feminism, Fatherhood, and the Lance Armstrong Fallacy

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fathers rights, federal crimes, Feminism, Liberty, Marriage, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Restraining Orders on June 30, 2009 at 11:51 pm

Feminism, Fatherhood, and the Lance Armstrong Fallacy
Paul Coughlin
Author of “No More Christian Nice Guy”

My book No More Christian Nice Guy alerted America that boys are falling behind in school and that this problem is a silent epidemic. Little did I know that within a few months after its release how some of the largest names in media would pick up this problem and run with it. But what I did predict was the radical feminist response, and how they would attempt to put this problem into “perspective.”

Soon after Newsweek’s recent cover story about the boy crisis in education came Salon.com’s article “The campus crusade for guys.” Then Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, weighed in with “Biology’s Revenge.” The Weekly Standard had its say as well. Among the most troubling statistics: 58 percent of first-year college students are female. Because male students are more likely to drop out, their share will shrink to 40 percent by graduation.

One of the main reasons for this crisis, wrote Newsweek, is the lack of father figures in the lives of too many drop-out boys. “An adolescent boy without a father figure is like an explorer without a map.” Donald Miller, author of the bestselling Blue Like Jazz, writes about his difficult life without a father in his new release To Own a Dragon. He says the percentage of dropouts, youth suicides, homeless teenagers and young men in prison who come from fatherless homes is staggering. “It makes you wonder if just having a Dad around, just by being there, reading the paper in the morning and smoking cigars at poker with his friends and having him read to us a story at night, you and I were supposed to understand something, some idea God in heaven wanted to offer us as a gift.”

Feminist Professor Peggy Drexler, author of the anti-father Raising Boys Without Men: How Maverick Moms Are Creating the Next Generation of Exceptional Men, claims that no such gift exists. Soon after Newsweek’s article hit, she wrote, “I wonder what mothers like Lance Armstrong’s make of such statements” that claim boys without a father figure are lost. “The assumption that ‘masculine’ qualities can be imparted only by men undermines the success of millions of mothers who are fully capable of raising thriving, emotionally healthy, masculine sons without a man around. Linda Armstrong raised Lance on her own and did quite well.”

This is where Drexler, like the body of her work, hyper-extends and hyper-ventilates. I used to race bicycles, shaved legs and all, and I still might in the future if my schedule ever slows down (not likely). I’ve won a few as a low-level racer, yet my best race was when I took third. There’s something about a road bike that makes me feel alive.

So I keep an eye on Lance and I’m amazed by his abilities, especially his cadence and lightness on the pedals as he flies up mountains. I’m also familiar with his background, apparently more so than Drexler. Young Lance Armstrong was not “emotionally healthy.” He was, by his own admission, a lost and angry young jerk. Two trainers, Chris Charmichael and Johann Bruyneel, took him under their paternal wing and coaxed stellar talent out of his troubled body and soul. Eddy Merckx, perhaps the greatest cyclist ever, was also a huge influence in Lance’s life. When others abandoned him professionally, his agent Ken Stapleton stayed by his side.

And it was another racer who, seeing young, brash, angry Lance in a field sprint with him near the finish line, who taught Lance a lesson in humility that he never forgot. The well-respected racer hit his brakes because he did not want to appear on the same podium as troubled Armstrong. This man gave up money and fame to distance himself from a young racer whose emotional immaturity and reckless disregard earned him a growing list of detractors who rightly complained that Armstrong did not know how to win well or live well.

He was not always the good ambassador of one of the world’s most incredible sports that he is today. It took the intervention of some big souls to make that happen.

Notice the gender of all these influential people, the ones Drexler ignores?

I’m not going to commit a similar Drexler fallacy and undermine the love and direction of women in general and Linda Armstrong in particular. One should not return bigotry for bigotry. I’m saying all this to put the real life of Armstrong and men in general in perspective. A mother’s love and nurturing is a gift from God. Ask any man who didn’t get it and they’ll tell you. The same is true for the unique characteristic of men. Though Drexler ignores them, Armstrong gives these pivotal men plenty of credit.

And of course a man’s unique presence, like a woman’s, doesn’t just bless boys either. Wrote Toni Morrison, Nobel-prize winning novelist. “I am a great writer because when I was a little girl and walked into a room where my father was sitting, his eyes would light up. That is why I am a great writer. That is why. There isn’t any other reason.”

Drexler is right to point out the benefits of good mothering, which is an important encouragement in the lives of so many women, especially heroic single mothers. But she uses this vital role to wage war against another vital role: the blessings of paternity. Armstrong is fortunate that he grew up during a time when Drexler’s views were contained to the radical fringe of college campuses instead of in best-selling books. Today’s troubled boys are not so fortunate. Those who take the Good Guy Rebellion seriously will correct her kind of anti-male bias wherever they find it.

Paul Coughlin is the author of No More Christian Nice Guy and a soon to be released companion Study Guide. He and his wife Sandy are the authors of Married But Not Engaged: Why Men Check Out and What You Can Do to Create The Intimacy You Desire, due out in July from Bethany House. Visit him online at Christianniceguy.com

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The Government, Divorce, and the War on Fatherhood

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, custody, deadbeat dads, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Feminism, Freedom, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, kidnapped children, Liberty, Marriage, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Restraining Orders on June 30, 2009 at 7:32 pm
by Todd M. Aglialoro
Stephen Baskerville, Cumberland House, 352 pages, $24.95

For whatever reason, social conservatives focus considerable political effort on abortion, gay rights, and obscenity, but pay scant attention to divorce. Perhaps they think that ship has sailed for good, whereas other battles still offer winnable stakes. Perhaps too few look at our “family courts” and see a culture war; or perhaps too many lack the conviction to fight it. And when conservatives do target divorce, rather than lobby for legal reform of the “no-fault” divorce system, or changes in the way courts award custody or child support, they have preferred to employ the tools of ministry, treating divorce primarily as a moral problem rather than a political one; its attendant social evils as a consequence of sin, not of bad policy.

This is a grave mistake, says Stephen Baskerville, professor of government at Patrick Henry College and president of the American Coalition for Fathers and Children. In his startling new book, Taken into Custody: The War Against Fathers, Marriage, and the Family, he asserts not only that reforming America’s divorce paradigm deserves a far higher priority among conservative culture warriors, but that our divorce courts today are agents of radical sexual ideology, occasions of shameless graft, and instruments for the expansion of governmental power at the expense of Constitutional rights.

As unique as it is disturbing, Taken into Custody strikes notes from all over the conservative/libertarian spectrum to compose a sort of hybrid thesis: that big government and anti-father feminism have teamed up to promote divorce, tear apart families, pauperize and criminalize fathers, and swell the power of the state.

The marriage contract today is a legal anomaly, the author muses, in that our government directs nearly all its efforts and resources toward dissolving rather than — as with other contracts — enforcing it. In what he calls the “totalitarian regime of involuntary divorce,” unfaithful parties are not punished, and faithful ones not rewarded. In a perverse twist, it is the faithful party — the one seeking to hold the marriage together — on whom the guilt and suspicion are cast.

With the advent of no-fault divorce (before which divorces required cause, and fault could be assigned proportionately), “the fault that was ostensibly thrown out the front door of divorce proceedings re-entered through the back.” Working from the “therapeutic” (read: morally relativistic) premise that both parties must be equally to blame — which is to say, not at all to blame — for a marriage’s failure, divorce courts begin with an “automatic outcome” and then set out to find or manufacture evidence to support it.

How is that evidence obtained? Via “extensive and intrusive governmental instruments whose sole purpose is intervention in families.” Having quit the marriage-enforcement business, government has turned the full weight of its resources and coercive powers to the divorce-enforcement business.

The main area in which government brings to bear those resources, and the red thread of Baskerville’s book, is in assigning custody of children. With two-thirds of divorces initiated by women — thereby immediately casting the man as the “defendant” — and with courts overwhelmingly biased toward mothers already (in a paradoxical inversion of feminist doctrine, women are held both to be and not to be more naturally suited to nurturing and child-rearing), in practice the custody process typically amounts to a “power grab” by which fathers are forcibly separated from their children. The children, for whose benefit the process ostensibly exists, are then used as leverage by the prying state and as trophies by the custodial mother.

The fathers may have committed no crime; they may in fact be more dedicated than the mother to the marital stability that’s in their kids’ best interest, but no matter. The mother is rewarded for courageously having taken the “initiative” in the divorce — for having invited, that is, the power of the state to arbitrate in the most private areas of their family life. Maneuvered by skilled lawyers, abetted by social-science “experts” steeped in anti-father ideology and myths, and followed by media more interested in soap-opera storylines than justice, she can by the very hint of a suggestion of an accusation — of physical or sexual abuse, for example, or mental or emotional cruelty — rob a man of his marriage, his children, and his livelihood.

This is not the only disquieting contention Baskerville makes, but it is the central one: that right under our noses, massive systematic injustice is being visited upon fathers, threatening the very fundaments of family, society, and democracy. This thesis seems at first incredible, and initially I couldn’t decide whether it’s because the author doesn’t convince, or because I didn’t want to be convinced.

It’s not a reviewer’s placeto connect every dot of an author’s argument — especially for a book that, despite its modest size, is richly presented, containing nearly a thousand end notes and not a single uneconomical sentence. But I do want to touch on a few satellite points that attend Baskerville’s thesis, by way of giving a well-rounded representation of it.

This ongoing travesty is rooted in two main causes, which build upon each other: a big-bucks “entitlement industry” that grows ever-larger and more voracious, and the influence of radical feminist ideas and power.

According to Baskerville, the business of divorce is part of a bloated bureaucracy, a $100 billion industry in which judges “dispense patronage” to psychological “experts,” lawyers feed on the bank accounts of divorcing couples, social workers wet their beaks in welfare cash, and courts send out bounty hunters to bleed dry blameless but unlucky dads. And, naturally, the more each party prospers, the greater the demand for even bigger money: more divorces requiring more expert witnesses to demonize more fathers, and more intrusive measures to coerce their behaviors and attach their wages; more taxpayer money to fund more programs for counseling and sheltering more unhappy wives (in what he calls “one-stop divorce shops”); more state agencies (the “child protection racket”) to insert governmental authority ever more deeply into the sacrosanct privacy of the family.

So follow the money we certainly can. But Baskerville believes that we might never have gotten to this point without the influence of an anti-father strain of feminism, representing a “degeneration of feminist idealism” that first aims to make political what is personal (by casting conflict between the sexes in the historical context of political oppression and the movement for liberation) and, secondly, is motivated by “a specific animus against men and marriage.”

True, as regards divorce and child custody, there is some dissension within radical feminist ranks. Some would prefer to see the man left with the children, burdened with domestic chores, while the woman goes off free to pursue whatever empowers her. Others likewise fear that winning the battle for power in the household only sets back the fight for power in society. But the majority has happily accepted and run with what seems to be a paradox: on the one hand, rejecting outright any notion that a woman “belongs” at home with her children, but in divorce court asserting that children belong at home with their mother. Similarly, one notes the paradox in feminists’ claimed desire to have more domestically “involved” fathers, and their sense of entitlement to be the “center of their kids’ universes.”

Why do they smooth over the contradiction? Most of all, power, says Baskerville. By scooping up the children and the money, divorcées scores a tag-team victory — along with the courts and their experts, trained in feminist therapeutic precepts — over men. The current divorce paradigm also dovetails nicely, he says, with other planks in their ideological platform:

  • Deep-rooted antagonism toward men and fatherhood. As Dale O’Leary and others have shown, anger and resentment toward their own fathers is a common thread among lesbians and radical feminists.
  • Long-term replacement of the family with a system of government caretakers. “It takes a village,” after all.
  • Conscription of children as fellow soldiers in the battle against patriarchal tradition. Hence the modern movement naming “children’s rights” as a corollary to women’s rights.
  • The separation of the political interests of men and women. This is essential to preserving the model of ongoing political conflict between the sexes.

The larger society allows this to occur, and politicians enable it, Baskerville says, because of a carefully constructed set of myths that steers our sympathies toward the mother and casts suspicion on the dad. “He must have done something,” we say to ourselves. We all know the stereotypical stories of the abusive or “deadbeat” dad.

Baskerville dismisses the bulk of these notions as pure myth, asserting that most women seek divorces for reasons related to emotional fulfillment, not physical abuse, either of herself or their children. (He cites statistics here showing, among other things, that children are most likely to be abused by a single mother or by her live-in boyfriend; tragically, then, courts are in fact removing kids from their natural protectors and abetting the real predators.) There already exist laws to punish violent criminals, but these laws — and the due process that goes with them — are being ignored in favor of the secretive, unjust, and cruelly punitive family courts, which work with politicians, agenda-driven experts, and the media to “foment hysteria” about a non-existent epidemic of child and spousal abuse, and then prosecute fathers — not with criminal statutes but restraining orders, onerous child support, and character assassination.

Similarly, the divorce industry enjoys the full cooperation of politicians and the media in stalking “deadbeat dads.” But he too is a “mythical creature,” Baskerville claims, “created by those paid to pursue him.” The “national demonology” of the deadbeat is a useful fable, providing spotlight-seeking pols with a “risk-free target” for tough-sounding talk and filling state coffers with federal money (after all, they need programs to track down and punish all those wicked dads, and propaganda campaigns to educate the public about their wickedness). In other words, they get a cut of the booty — an “entitlement coerced from the involuntarily divorced.”

Baskerville pointedly concedes that there must be some true “deadbeats,” just as there are some true abusers. But in both cases the numbers are small. Most dads pay up, and those who can’t have a good reason (he notes that they tend to be the type of unfortunate fellows whom the government would ordinarily be spending money to help, not impoverish — alcoholics and drug addicts, the homeless and mentally ill, and those with minimal education and job skills). And millions of others eke out a living in the fringes: fighting to stay out of jail while they watch their reputations and credit ratings crater.

The great irony here, Baskerville says, is that “child support” is advertised as a way to make fathers “be responsible” for their children, yet it is coerced from them only after they have been forbidden by the state to exercise that responsibility in the ordinary way: by being fathers — protecting and providing for their sons and daughters on a daily basis in a common household. Or as Baskerville puts it, child support is about “making fathers finance the filching of their kids.”

In addition to lamenting their inattentionto divorce reform, Baskerville specially indicts social conservatives for unwittingly perpetuating such myths. Making the “sentimental assumption” that male promiscuity is the nub of all fault, fatherhood groups and religious-right leaders focus the large part of their efforts on exhorting fathers to live up to their spousal and parental responsibilities — ignoring the plight of fathers whom the courts have forbidden to do just that, and implicitly reinforcing the common misconception that most divorce stems from the husband’s sins, and most fatherlessness from paternal cowardice.

Small wonder, then, that many feminist groups, “cynically invoking the need for fathers,” lend their support to organizations and initiatives that on the surface promote paternal involvement, but which in reality only serve the system that keeps dads from their kids. Baskerville calculates, for example, that government and faith-based “fatherhood” programs actually direct a majority of their resources toward the child-support collection industry. They don’t want his presence; they just want his money.

Baskerville winds up his book — and locates his thesis — deep in the heart of a quasi-totalitarian state, by offering an eccentric but thought-provoking take on the now-settled fact that children of divorce exhibit more problem behaviors than those from intact families:

The family becomes in effect government-occupied territory. The children experience family life not as a nursery of cooperation, compromise, trust and forgiveness. Instead they receive a firsthand lesson in tyranny. Backed by the courts, police, and jails, the custodial parent now “calls the shots” alone — issuing orders and instructions to the non-custodial parent, undermining his authority with the children, dictating the terms of his access to them, talking about him contemptuously and condescendingly . . . all with the blessing and backing of the government.

Having thus become “wards of a police state,” he says, forced to live in and be formed by an environment of gross injustice, how can children not develop a “chronic disrespect for authority”?

In the occupied family of forced divorce, parental and political authority are unnaturally intertwined, a process that results in both kinds of authority being simultaneously abused and weakened. Discipline and civility are the first casualties, since it is difficult to teach children to say “please” and “thank you” when we simply issue orders (or court orders) to Dad. . . .

This peaks in adolescence, when natural rebelliousness coincides with the realization of how one or both parents have abused their authority by setting their own desires above the needs of their children. . . . It is this adversarial relationship imposed on the children towards virtually every form of authority that I believe best accounts for the horrifying statistics on juvenile emotional and social problems that correlate more strongly with divorce and single-parent households than any other factor.

Baskerville stresses that change won’t come through the efforts of government or non-profits, but by militant popular activism: nothing less than a “rebellion” that radically re-establishes the family as the primary rival to government power, not a building block for it. Only then can we hope to achieve particular strategic goals: legal limits on no-fault divorce, based on a judicial re-commitment to enforcing the marital contract rather than shredding it; a preference for awarding joint custody, which would both “dismantle” the custody/child-support industry and likely reduce the divorce rate (since it removes the motive for one spouse to wield custody as an instrument of power); and greater legal protection for parents’ rights, which, Baskerville surmises, might require nothing less than a Constitutional amendment.

That last prescription underscores the gravity and urgency that permeate Taken into Custody. Indeed, it sometimes crosses the line into stridency, such as in the author’s comparisons of family courts to Nazis, Stalin, the Eastern Bloc, the Weimar Republic; his references to Orwell, Marxism, “human sacrifice,” and so forth. But Baskerville himself seems aware of the gap between his claims and popular understanding — even the understanding of pro-family, limited-government conservatives who are usually sharp about such things. He realizes that the evidence he has marshaled is either flat “mistaken,” or else it “amounts to a reign of terror.”

If Baskerville is mistaken, then he may just need a little time off, somewhere out of the sun. But if he’s correct — and his book compels — then we have been blithely sitting on the sidelines of a critical civil rights struggle; perhaps the most critical of all.

Todd M. Aglialoro is the editor for Sophia Institute Press and a columnist and blogger for www.InsideCatholic.com.