Notre Dame Right to Life hosts presentation on fatherlessness
Fr. Bill Miscamble, C.S.C. joined Notre Dame Right to Life on October 11 to deliver a lecture on “Fatherlessness in the Wake of the Sexual Revolution,” addressing the standing room only crowd at Hagerty Family Cafe.
According to Merlot Fogarty, President of Notre Dame Right To Life, the club chose to host this event because “[fatherlessness] is a huge problem that stems from the decoupling of sex and procreation. These are conversations we need to be having in our modern culture… Strong fathers are vital for our ultimate goal: building a culture of life that respects and reveres relationships, families, children and life as a gift from God our Creator.”
Fr. Miscamble began by asserting that fatherhood within the bonds of marriage is beneficial not only for men, but for the women and children too. “Evidence suggests that marriage is beneficial, particularly for men, increasing longevity, financial wellbeing, and more,” Miscamble explained. Becoming a father is a vital step in a man’s maturation because it draws out the self-giving sacrifice that is crucial for being a good man. Moreover, the stable marriage, “where a man lays down his life for others,” supports a strong and healthy society, providing the basis for healthy relationships elsewhere.
Fatherhood, or its absence, also greatly impacts the children in the family. Fr. Miscamble cited Mary Eberstadt’s book How The West Really Lost God, in which she examines several studies on juveniles in fatherless homes. These studies have found that most incarcerated juveniles have grown up in fatherless homes, and the lack of a father can increase the likelihood of truancy, drug use, and gang membership among teenagers. “Fatherlessness leads young men to search for father substitutes,” Fr. Miscamble mentioned. They are likely trying to find where they fit and a way of modeling themselves outside the home. The allure of identity politics also attracts these young men because it gives a sense of belonging that they cannot find in a fatherless home.
Fr. Miscamble then described the relationship between fatherlessness and abortion, claiming the following: without the role model of a good father, boys grow into young men who don’t learn skills such as diligence, delayed gratification, teamwork, or self-control. “Without fathers … [boys have a] lack of good male behavior and an undeveloped sense of respect for women,” he further explained.
All of this leads to “a new generation of young men who are not well equipped to take on the responsibilities of fatherhood, or other serious things.” Naturally, this creates young men who prefer sex without responsibility, and who encourage abortions to their partners. Fr. Miscamble then went on to explain that if women had a responsible husband, rather than an indolent partner, they could gain the financial stability and prospect of raising their children, rather than feeling that they had to terminate them.
Fr. Miscamble also mentioned that while there is not a specific list of roles for the father, the key responsibility is formation of the young man. Besides this, the husband should share all duties with his wife– there should be no notion of separate roles in the relationship. As a Notre Dame priest, Fr. Miscamble is aware that he too has a fatherly role to play. He describes his role as assisting young folks to grow into their adult faith, and nourishing their faith lives so that they develop into the young man or woman that God is calling them to be.
After the talk, one student mentioned an increased appreciation for her father. “[I realized] how blessed I am to have such a loving father. My dad has always been one of my biggest supporters… I am thankful for all the love he has shown to me over the years and realize that I should never take that love for granted, especially when there are so many kids like myself who are not blessed with attentive fathers.”
There is plenty of work to be done by students to repair the damage caused by a fatherless culture, Fr. Miscamble noted. Part of the challenge is pushing back against the toxic elements of the sexual revolution and rebuilding the culture of marriage. “Men can have a greater participation in day to day pro-life activities,” Fr. Miscamble explained. He also observed the need for a religious revival in the United States, saying that “men who take their faith seriously will treat women with respect.”
Fr. Miscamble ended his speech with an encouragement to live out the virtues of courage and perseverance, saying that “We should be people capable of forming families, who are a light for others in forming society. Don’t be afraid to play your part, and let the Holy Spirit guide us.”
Katiebelle Thompson is a sophomore studying environmental sciences. She can often be found singing in Magnificat choir, hanging on for dear life at the rock wall, and rolling the dice at Board Game Club. If you or a loved one suffer from DND (double name disorder), don’t settle for a lifetime of having to re-explain your name to new people—join her support group at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo Credit: Notre Dame Right to Life