Does your emphasis on the importance of a father's presence in the home imply that the mother's role is less crucial in raising children? There are many single moms raising children by themselves, and I can't help wondering if you view these families as "inferior" or "second-class." Doesn't your high regard for the father's role diminish your assessment of the mother's? Isn't mom just as important as dad? How can women ever hope to better their lot in the world if we always expect them to stand in the shadow of their men? These questions are important to me as a woman who wants to make a positive contribution to the life of her community.
As a matter of fact, the status of women tends to be elevated when men are present and actively involved in the home. On the whole, cultures characterized by this type of domestic pattern grant women greater influence and leadership in community life than those that aren't.
In his book Secure Daughters, Confident Sons, author Glenn T. Stanton appeals to the work of sociologist Scott Coltrane in support of this idea. According to Stanton, "Coltrane found that throughout many diverse cultures, when men and women both participated in family work as a team, these societies were much more likely to have a higher view of and respect for women and less likely to exclude them from public activities when compared to more father-absent societies" (p. 224). The reason for this isn't far to seek. When Mom and Dad parent together as a team, they set an example of mutual cooperation that teaches their children valuable lessons about human sexuality, gender identity, and the real meaning of "equality."
And that's not all. This male-female domestic and cultural dynamic contributes to the better treatment of women in other ways as well. To begin with, researchers have found that marriage has a settling, softening, and tempering effect on men. Marriage and fatherhood actually lowers a man's testosterone levels. As a result, he becomes less aggressive and violent. This also makes him less competitive in the social and economic realms and more willing to serve alongside women in business and community ventures.
The effect of this set of circumstances is self-compounding. When men live and work alongside females, their appreciation of and esteem for a woman's capabilities tend to go up. When they've seen what a woman can do, they learn to trust her and place more stock in her abilities, decisions, and insights. This leads to an even greater openness to the idea of women in positions of authority and leadership.
That's not to mention the power women are able to exert in the domestic arena. They have an undeniable influence over their husbands. Their influence may be expressed in a gentle, soft-spoken, and indirect way, but that doesn't make it any less potent. This is beneficial for everyone. It has the two-pronged effect of making men more sensitive and of providing women with greater opportunities in the community.
If you'd like to understand these concepts more thoroughly, you may find it helpful to discuss them at greater length with a member of our staff. If this option appeals to you, please don't hesitate to contact Focus on the Family's Counseling department for a free consultation.
National Center for Fathering
The Power of Fathers