Fatherhood: It’s About Marriage, Too

Fatherhood CoMissionOver a cup of coffee at Starbucks several years back, I asked Dr. Bill Dougherty one of the nation’s marriage and family researchers this question: “Bill if there is one thing that large family organizations need to focus on to really help families this century, what would it be?” He thought, thought, and thought some more. Then he said: “Helping the American public reconnect marriage and parenting (Fathering).” He went on to explain that our culture has separated, compartmentalized the two.  Americans seem to be able to compartmentalize the two “My marriage stinks but I can still be a good parent” or “if I can’t be successful in my marriage I will put all my energy into being a good parent.” The problem with that Bill said was “all the energy then is taken up in parenting and none is left to restore the marriage so it just gets worse.”

We all know great single parents who do a wonderful job with their kids, but we are not talking about that. We are talking about a parent, fathers specifically in a struggling marriage. The truth is, marriage does affect your ability to parent your children. The family is a system. What goes on in one part of the system affects the other. It’s like a mobile hanging over your child’s crib. You disturb one piece, the whole thing is disturbed.

If a marriage is struggling in a home, you can be rest assured that the struggle trickles down to the kids. They know about it and feel it, at any age.  Often as a therapist I see out of control behaviors in kids directly tying back to their parents struggling in their marriage. If parents can work on the marriage, they often help “fix” what’s going on with their kids’ unacceptable behaviors.

If you are fatherhood leader, let me encourage you to help Dads realize the connection between their role as a father and their role as a husband. The two go hand in hand. Maybe, the best thing we can do to help dads be better dads is to help teach them how to be a better husband?

Mitch Temple, Exec.Director, FCM

*For more articles to help marriages go here.

2 thoughts on “Fatherhood: It’s About Marriage, Too

  1. i think, this is just my opinion, americans fathers struggling with their marriages, its because here in america its easy to get out of marriage, because divorce here is legal, unlike other countries like ours its very difficult to get out of marriage, because there’s no divorce. and we value family ties, because of our culture and values, unless a father has a personal relationship with JESUS, he will not allow his marriage to be destroyed by the enemy, unlike other father who has no relationship with God..

    • Virgie, that is a great point. There are a number of factors but you hit on one of them. No Fault Divorce was placed into action in California in 1969 and then began much wider state adoption and rippled through the United States throughout the 1970 until the last state adopted it in 1980. I can guarantee you that the No Divorce Law is one of the linchpins to the dissolution of marriages and redefinition of marriages that we are facing today. Thank you for sharing and reminding us that family IS a key to a societies health…a family of a committed mom, dad and children who grow up seeing marriage modeled well.

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