"Single motherhood has stretched through the generations to produce extended families without men. Grandmothers, mothers and daughters now live without husbands or fathers and rely on the state for support, a study found yesterday. Three-generation single mother families where no one works and which contain no men are now common, according to the analysis by researcher Geoff Dench.The spread of the extended single-parent family was tracked through the findings of the British Social Attitudes survey which has followed families and their opinions each year for almost 30 years. It showed that more than half of grandmothers who do not have a husband or male partner themselves are likely to have daughters who are also single mothers. The 53 per cent recorded in 2008 was up from 44 per cent over a decade."
What a terrible commentary on relationships between men and women.
All I can think about are the children. To grow up without a father is one of the worst things that can happen to a child. Yes, a mother can love her child completely and raise the child the best she can, and yes, there can be father figures in a child's life (at least I hope there are some). But ultimately, the role of the father simply can't be outsourced. God created men and women with different purposes and the importance of the man's role as father cannot be overemphasized.
I grew up with a father. As I grew older, I realized how blessed I was - not only to have my father in my life, but to have two parents still married to each other. Although their marriage wasn't perfect, they worked through their differences and at the end of the day, would focus on the vows they took to love, honor, and cherish until death parted them. Marriage is for adults and I'm beginning to wonder if our pursuit for youth has not only affected our expectations for church, but our expectations for wedded bliss.
The Catholic Church tries its best to prepare her children for marriage. A Catholic doesn't just waltz into a priest's office and say, "Hey, there. I found a great woman to marry. Let's set the date!" There are classes to attend, prayers and counseling that are done. Of course there is a reason for all of this. The Catholic Church is trying to prevent exactly what is happening in the U.K. and the U.S. - hundreds of single mothers, struggling to raise families.
We need a revolution. And I think women are up for the challenge. What happened 30 or 40 years ago? It was the 1960's, and the feminist movement was gearing up for its second wave. (The first being the Suffrage movement that gained women the right to vote.) But a woman named Betty Friedan changed everything. Her book, The Feminine Mystique, blamed society's narrow view of roles as the reason women were dissatisfied. Another feminist activist and author, Carol Hanisch, coined the term, "The Personal is Political" and encouraged women to see their life as politicized and reflecting sexist power structures.
Fast-forward to today: it's no surprise to see women reaping the ugly fruit of those choices. Women were prodded into thinking of men as their adversary. Men were the problem. Men were trying to prevent women from expanding their horizons, controlling their destinies, oppressing them at every turn. And when marriages fell apart, it must have been because the men just didn't get with the program. Few women really examined "the program."
I have been on that side of the issue - looking at men and thinking they had "a problem." When I was younger, I rarely looked at my own role in the equation. I always thought it was the man who was the insensitive jerk or the selfish oaf. Rarely did I think that maybe some of the problems had to do with my expectations.
It wasn't until I was in my mid-twenties that I started to see men in a new light. This happened after many hours of Bible study and prayer. I started to see a larger spiritual strategy of attack upon the family. I saw how the family is the glue that holds societies together and without strong families, a community will be weak. Weak communities are more vulnerable to the onslaught of evil. All one needs to do to find proof is look at the newspaper headlines. The majority of criminals did not have a father while growing up. More than 1.5 million children have fathers in prison. Lord, have mercy.
After time, I started to see the good in men. I started to realize they were not my enemy but instead, people who need love like anyone else. This may sound basic (and perhaps silly) to some of you but I honestly used to think that men were made of granite. Strong, impenetrable. Impervious to having hurt feelings or a sense of loss. Thankfully, God opened my eyes to see that was far from the truth. Men, just as women, can have their feelings hurt by careless words or insensitive acts. It's not just men who can be jerks. There are many women who have earned that title, too.
It was during my thirties when I discovered that most divorces were initiated by women. At least two-thirds of those who file for divorce are women. And although there are instances where the divorce is filed because the man is abusive or violent toward his wife, only 6% filed for that reason. (According to a study done in Virginia.) The majority of divorces occur because a woman believes she and her husband have "grown apart" or, to gain control of the children. In fact, according the article I cited, the person who expects to gain custody of the children is the one most likely to file for divorce. And that's usually the woman.
I propose something radical. Let's love men. In fact, I often would bring up this exercise when I coached single women over forty. Older women have an issue with trusting men since they have been disappointed time and time again. However, it is not an insurmountable challenge. One of the exercises I gave them was this: Write down at least five things you love about men. Not "a man," but men in general. I did this myself when I was single and it started to change my views regarding men.
For instance, one thing I love about men is their easy-going camaraderie when they gather with other men. I don't know why, but I really get a kick out of watching men laugh together, good-naturedly ribbing each other, and showing a genuine affection toward their friends. I admire the way they can have heated debates and then turn around and have a beer together. (Women rarely can do this.) I like how they can shrug off differences of opinions without getting into a snit about it.
Another thing I love about men is their desire to help. Whether it's helping a woman trying to carry too many bags or rushing into a burning building to save people, men help. It seems to be in their nature. And I love it.
I fear that women have been trained to criticize men far too often at the expense of praising them. And there are many reasons to praise men. But when a few loud, disenchanted harpies decide to write books and appear on talk-shows, some women buy into that disenchantment and start looking at their own husbands with a more critical eye.
We as women have the power to change this. We can first turn to God and pour out our hearts regarding this situation. We need to pray that God would change us and make us a channel of His love. We have to be willing to change. We also need to ask God to grant us courage to stand up to the current line of thought and say, "We love men. Stop attacking them." No talk show host will convince me that all men are no good. We need to lay down our swords if our children are to have any hope of being fathered.
One of the lessons God showed me was how important it is for women to find their own sense of self-worth apart from a marriage. His grace for a wife flows through her realization that no one can "make" her happy. Her happiness is a result of the peace that comes from her relationship with God through Jesus Christ. It is this happiness that will bless all of her relationships, from her husband to her children. If it is one thing I have noticed about radical feminists, it is their complete lack of peace. The fruit of love is peace.
To embrace all of this is not easy. Sacrifices need to be made. But aren't our children worth it? And what is amazing is this: after the sacrifice is made, the glory is given. After Jesus Christ made the ultimate sacrifice, He was given a glory that far outweighed the agony. There is something magnificent on the other side of death, and I believe that women, when they really consider it, will rise to the challenge. When they do, watch out. The world will indeed be a better place for it.