Excerpt – Warren Farrell, The Boy Crisis (pg 191)
Parenting while male didn’t always evoke fears of incompetence or sex abuse. Before the Industrial Revolution, boys assisted their dads in their work and became apprentices (as farmers, blacksmiths, shoe makers, coal miners, etc.). In wealthier families, when there was the rare divorce, the father usually had primary custody. He may have delegated the day-to-day responsibilities to a nanny, but the buck stopped with dad. Even today, in some cultures, such as the Aka tribe of Africa, fathers spend 47 percent of their days holding their infant children or keeping them within arm’s reach.[i]
So how did Father Knows Best become Father Knows Less—or Father Molests? As divorces broke families apart, the 1950s forces of the era of Father Knows Best morphed into the forces of the era of Father Knows Less. The bumbling Homer Simpson inspired the longest-running prime-time sitcom in American TV history, with over six hundred episodes to date, bridging the presidencies of Reagan through Trump. Perhaps second place in the Father Knows Less contest goes to the clueless dads in Everybody Loves Raymond.
This confluence of image, politics, and professional and legal biases influenced our making more progress for women at work than for men at home. We hear this in our everyday use of language. For example, in the past, when a doctor was a woman, we used qualifiers—we called her a “female doctor.” Now we commonly call a woman who is a doctor a doctor. Yet for a man who is a dad full-time, we still use qualifiers—calling him a “full-time dad”—or even “Mr. Mom.” We’ll know we’ve made progress if, in the future, when your son is asked his profession, should he choose to be a full-time dad, he automatically responds, “I’m a Dad,” as easily as our daughter might respond, “I’m a doctor.”
Dr. Warren Farrell has been chosen by the Financial Times as one of the world’s top 100 thought leaders. His books are published in over 50 countries, and in 19 languages. They include The New York Times best-seller, Why Men Are the Way They Are, plus the international best-seller, The Myth of Male Power. His most recent is The Boy Crisis, (audio version) (2018, co-authored with John Gray). The Boy Crisis was chosen as a finalist for the Foreword Indies award (the independent publishers’ award).
Dr. Farrell has been a pioneer in both the women’s movement (elected three times to the Board of N.O.W. in NYC) and the men’s movement (called by GQ Magazine “The Martin Luther King of the men’s movement”). He conducts couples’ communication workshops nationwide. He has appeared on over 1000 TV shows and been interviewed by Oprah, Barbara Walters, Peter Jennings, Katie Couric, Larry King, Tucker Carlson, Regis Philbin, Dr. Phil, Jordan Peterson, and Charlie Rose. He has frequently written for and been featured in The New York Times and publications worldwide. Dr. Farrell has two daughters, lives with his wife in Mill Valley, California, and virtually at www.warrenfarrell.com.