Why do men choose to be good fathers?

This is a question that’s often asked. Why do some men choose to be good fathers? Great fathers even. While some still to not grasp the fact that they need to be and aren’t. Some men stay disconnected from their children, or even worse abandon them. But why?

Statistically, just over 26% of the children in the United States have absent fathers.

Lets’ remove a few from the equation to start this off right.

Courts – there is an ongoing debate between the likes of law makers, feminists, men’s rights activists and lobbyists that there is a fundamental flaw with the family court system in both Canada and the United States where they are biased against men and for mothers.  The intent here is not to engage in that debate.

For the context and purpose of this, let’s exclude any man who feels that he has been completely removed from his children’s lives due to the family court system or some systematic process that was held bias against him.

For the context and purpose of this, let’s also exclude any men in prison, who have serious mental health issues, or anything in between preventing them from actually parenting their children and any direct or indirect correlation between these issues and the system mentioned above.

So who are left in context of this discussion? Men that simply make poor decisions and men who unfortunately walk away from their children. Why do some men feel it’s perfectly acceptable to not put their children first? Why are other men engaging 

I spoke with Dr. Jed Diamond, a well known author and therapist regarding the issue and he stated that they had good role models or that they had healed from their “Father Wound”.  He is currently finishing writing a book about the Father Wound and how it impacts men in their adult years. In an article about why he is writing the book he talks about his own father and how he was severely disconnected from his children because he was constantly struggling to find work to provide for his family. – You can read the full article here.

Some dads choose to be the best dads they can be because they had a shitty dad themselves growing up.
Some dads choose to be the best dads they can be because they had an absent father growing up.
Some dads choose to be the best dads they can be because they had a great mentor, possibly even their own father growing up.

So why would any man choose to not be the best father to their children that they can be?

A Penn State blog post titled “Why do we make bad decisions” specifies that emotions have a lot to do with it.  Mostly related to Cognitive Dissonance which is when you have inconsistent and changing thoughts or feelings about something, especially when relating to decisions.

In 2008, Roy F Baumeister, a professor at Florida State University, wrote an article titled “Fathers who leave“.  In it he wrote of things like the fundamental difference in sexual appetite between women and men, and that it is factually a statistic that women want sex less than men. This then causes issues in marriages. He then writes that he understands, or at least has empathy for a man who is drawn away from his family and abandons his children due to lust. Most of the article is detailing that sex is the ultimate reason men leave. There are some interesting statements made about society and the psychology of fatherhood and the way that the media often portrays fathers as violent, abusive, “hapless bafoons”, etc… 

Could he be right? Is sex the reason men leave and abandon their children? 

I don’t believe so.

I think that it’s more at the root of how some men think, and most likely relates to the men that they grew up surrounded by.  Dr. Ferrance stated that a child can have a fairly developed personality, or at least personality tendency by the age of 7 and some even by the ages of 4 or 5 years old.  Between the ages of 3 and 5 it is clear that your child’s personality will “Blossom” and you will start to see personality traits (WebMD).

When you look at something as medically sound as diagnosing Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, it is statistically clear that it runs in families. That children who have it are more than likely to have been raised or have been close with someone who has some sort of anxiety.

I would link something like having the lack of empathy and compassion to abandon your children as a serious mental flaw. No excuses, as I believe even those who were raised in tough situations can still turn them around, but something in these men’s childhood taught them that something that is right, when it is in fact extremely wrong.

So why do men leave? How can they?

I’m not sure if the answer is clear, but what we can be sure of is that our children, especially our sons need to have good, strong willed men in their lives from a very young age. We need to lean in, raise our sons to understand that empathy and compassion are two very important emotions. That it is NOT right to let down the people who depend on you most.

If you know a man who is straying away and seems to be diverting from his obligations, talk to him. Be bold.