Redefining Fatherhood, Reinventing Responsibility

Father's Day 2001 Op-Ed

By Tony Zizza

It's Father's Day 2001. So why am I thinking about Seinfeld? I'm thinking about the episode when George Costanza, forever frustrated with the course of his life, acts and speaks in the exact opposite way that he should. Then, whatever happens--just happens. Interesting, huh?

I am convinced our senators watched this particular episode of Seinfeld several times and decided to apply the "opposite" formula to fathers. It seems fathers are now the focus of backward-ass, feel-good, Orwellian government programs.

The government in its wisdom has foisted upon our culture a $747 million dollar program called "responsible fatherhood." Come again? For decades, fathers have been the primary victims of visitation interference, paternity fraud, false allegations of abuse and confiscatory child support orders. However, now "fatherhood" must be made "responsible." Something reeks. Perhaps it's the garbage coming from Democratic Senator Evan Bayh and Republican Senator Pete Domenic, sponsors of the "responsible fatherhood" bill.

Give these two imbeciles a little credit for noting the severe downside to ejecting dad from the family many of us have been noting for decades, but give me a big fat break. Is Senator Bayh in his right mind when he says, "We must try to counsel men to wait until they are ready to assume the awesome responsibility of bringing a child into the world." George Costanza and opposites right before our eyes! Unreal. It's now men who "bring" children into the world?

Obviously these senators cannot grasp fathers are watching fatherhood be redefined just as the nature of responsibility is being reinvented. We're supposed to believe men bring children into the world and have all the cards. We're supposed to believe men as a gender are naturally wired wrong so the government will spend tax dollars making fatherhood responsible once and for all. Then, fatherlessness will end. Oh, really?

Fatherlessness is a direct result of many things, men choosing to walk away from a home "welcoming" their fatherhood being a rare occasion. Fatherlessness has resulted from the double-speak inherent in the "responsible fatherhood" bill, a failed welfare state, a decades long assault on masculinity, and quite frankly, a foolish desire to equate a father's worth by his child support obligations. By redefining fatherhood we have reinvented responsibility. But what about fathering?

It seems real fathering is happening more in our culture, at least according to the latest Census. The number of U.S. households headed by single fathers with children under 18 increased by over 60 percent during the 1990's. So if more fathers are the primary parent, why all this garbage about responsible fatherhood? Individuals choose to be and choose not to be responsible parents. Stop the gender nonsense. There is no scientific evidence that states women are better parents than men, and vice versa. Interestingly, talk to noncustodial mothers sometime and they will tell you fathers with primary custody can be just as possessive and alienating as mothers.

Responsibility without rights, much like rights without responsibility, is a powder keg waiting to explode. You can't talk to a fathers about responsibility when they have no rights. You can't talk to mothers about responsibility when sometimes after agreeing to shared parenting they no longer have any rights. You can't talk about both parents looking out for the best interests of the children when politicians engage in silly semantics about family life in America.

Let's make Father's Day 2001 the first father's day in a long time where we acknowledge the value and importance of fatherhood. A father's day where the government doesn't insult men with not being responsible enough. A father's day where we aspire to no longer assault masculinity. A father's day that's inclusive to all who have been ejected from their children's lives.

We can do all this without redefining fatherhood, reinventing responsibility.


Tony Zizza
3108 Tree Terrace Pkwy
Austell, GA 30168

home ph: 770-944-0744


Tony Zizza is writing a book titled: "The War Against Noncustodial Parents."

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