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In the name of the father

The Local · 4 Aug 2010, 12:09

Published: 04 Aug 2010 12:09 GMT+02:00

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Every child knows that mum and dad are different and boys and girls need, want and love those subtle differences between parents. Adults, on the other hand, are pretty unsure about what the guiding principles of parenthood should be.

During break-ups and custody battles, women, whether they are housewives, employed, or single parents, are seen mainly as 'mothers' in Germany and they usually win the legal battle by virtue of this.

Our ideas about what is motherly and what motherhood means are much clearer than they are about 'fatherhood' and 'fatherly' qualities. Men choosing to be fathers have become the weaker sex in modern German society.

The Constitutional Court ruling on Tuesday cannot suddenly suspend this crucial distinction, despite making it easier for unmarried father to win joint custody of their children. But the father is still important – because the emphatic lessons and experiences of women's emancipation count for fathers too. More rights mean more responsibility – in this case taking care of children.

Traditional father roles have been steamrollered, first by the catastrophes of the last century and then by the women's liberation movement. The authoritarian patriarch, who thinks dealing with small children is unmanly and is mainly responsible for handing out punishments, is long since outdated.

The patriarchal figure is even disappearing among Germany’s immigrant populations, which have often grown up with such archetypes. Nowadays young women with children have few qualms to leave such machos. This female victory march has also destroyed the idea of the “family-breadwinner,” a figure who dominated the first decades of post-war Germany, despite the enshrinement of equality in the constitution.

And the ideal of the fatherly "protector" – the man who shows the growing child the world and guides him along the path to working life – is no longer untouchable either. Mothers can and do perform this role too – and much too often they do it alone.

But an ideal "androgynous" parenthood, in which parents are not only equal before the law, but actually equal, has not yet been established despite a growing number of "modern" fathers. The more diffuse our image of fatherhood has become, the clearer we see that fathers, or father figures, are missing from our families, our childcare facilities, and our schools.

The lack of a father is a disadvantage that many single mothers feel painfully because they cannot make up for it, despite their best efforts. That a lot of mothers engage in long legal battles to separate children from their fathers only makes matters worse.

Perhaps young girls and boys have a better idea of what makes a good dad than men and women. But adults should at least know that fatherhood only develops and proves itself worthy through interaction with children – it does not come out of the economic, social or legal domination of women. Fortunately the old patriarchal roles have disappeared.

But that makes room for a new, hopeful development that can be seen in court custody battles, in applications for parental leave benefits, and in many families. Men really want to be fathers, not patriarchs, breadwinners or disciplinarians.

Story continues below…

The fundamental differences remain, however. In all cultures and societies, mothers have been given the role of looking after children. Mothering means love, care, and self-sacrifice. But until the invention of paternity tests, there was not even the slightest certainty about what and who a father should be.

Instead, there were just powerful cultural mores that have changed enormously over the centuries. It is also a kind of emancipation if men can be fathers without having to be patriarchs and breadwinners first. But mothers have to want that too.

This commentary was published with the kind permission of Berlin newspaper Der Tagesspiegel, where it originally appeared in German. Translation by The Local.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

19:39 August 4, 2010 by MonkeyMania
German men are the weaker sex for sure in contrast to their women. Who was it who said, "German women have balls".
08:21 August 7, 2010 by Canadian Dad
As many others have already pointed out, and like myself, who have lived through the harassment, prejudice, abuse, debasement, and heartbreak of trying to be a divorced "father", there is certainly no justice when it comes to fathers' rights - nor, in my experience, is there any intent to be.

The court systems and the "law" have absolutely nothing to do with justice as it pertains to fathers and their children. The court systems and the law are no more than entrenched systemic discrimination targeted at fathers.

The entire set of stakeholders in the Divorce Industry - the judges, the lawyers, the child assessors, the social workers, the politicians, the government social agencies, the psychologists, the domestic violence shelter industry, the feminist academics, the media - they all KNOW that fathers' have less rights than any stray dog on the street but they not only KNOWINGLY refuse to try to fix the problem, they also KNOWINGLY refuse to even admit it exists.


Because, clearly, they all benefit from the current adversarial system that declares, a priori, that all husbands and fathers are guilty of something even when proven innocent.

Because, by systemically enforcing socialist feminazi propaganda they can ensure that all fathers are viewed by the courts as nothing more than sperm donors and ATMs.

Because by systemically and perpetually destroying fathers emotionally, spiritually, and financially they can ensure that their grip on the justice system and the social system remains inviolate.

This is true in Germany, as noted herein, in Canada where I live, in the U.S., Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Japan, and many other countries. I mention these in particular because, as a father who works with and provides support to other divorced fathers, I have heard from fathers in each of those countries who is living through their own personal hell because of the blatantly misandrist family courts in all of these nations.

Fathers should not, can not, must not rely on the legislatures or the courts to in any way ameliorate the abuse and discrimination visited on them by the Divorce Industry. The legislatures and courts are not the solution. As they currently exist and function they are the problem.

Fathers need to organise on an international scale to achieve results. It is only when hundreds of thousands and even millions of fathers around the world band together and DEMAND change that we will begin to see any light at the end of the tunnel of dungeons that we are forced to live in and accept as normal and fair.
16:20 August 8, 2010 by ChildrenNeedParentsEqually
To save you time, the video link above is She's Got Balls by AC/DC.

Joint custody is what children need most. Joint custody MUST INCLUDE EQUAL PARENTING time. Otherwise it's mosty propaganda for people to say we were fair to children and fathers by giving the "title" joint custody. Whichever parent is the one who the children spend the most time with will make most of the decisions, regardless of what the law says.
16:32 August 8, 2010 by Hunt2871
Fathers are treated as if they do not matter at all in Germany. We are only allowed three days leave from work when a child is born (Mothers are allowed three years), we are not allowed to stay overnight at the hospital when our child is hospitalized unless we pay for a private room (which is generally not available) and most employers frown on men taking any leave at all to care for a sick child. For all of its claims as being progressive Germany certainly has some way to go when it comes to the rights of fathers.
22:57 August 8, 2010 by BR549
Funny thing is, Germany is called the FATHERLAND. What a load of "defication".
09:12 August 9, 2010 by RP_Lifer
Hmm, sad article but the truth.

I see it though, back in the US it was real bad and used to drive my up a wall. Out on the soccer field the father would be meek and almost sedated while the mother walked ahead like she had spent the morning slapping him around.

I think the kids and society are missing out when Dad is not that protector, that rock, that kids can feel comfortable in. The person who teaches them the hard lessons in life or at least makes them aware of them so when they learn it they remember ol' dad said this would happen. The man who stands up for them but also teaches them to stand up for themselves and ultimtatley how to protect themselves and their own family.

As a Dad of soon to be 3 children (1 on the way) I try my hardest to be that Dad that I grew up around in the 70's because I valued it but I do think I am in the minority (at least my kids tell me so).
23:07 August 11, 2010 by CathyO
Very sad indeed. I applaud you fathers who want to have a healthy relationship with your children. Keep it up, keep trying, don't lose faith. Your children need you.
10:26 August 13, 2010 by smd
Most of the times the law wants to teach father - "How to be a good father", but its also important to teach so called "Single Modern Mothers" - > "How to be a good mother", before going for divorce battle. Most of the times they use childrens as weapons! And the poor father keeps accepting the stupidity just to keep it up and not to have seperation with kids!
08:30 August 18, 2010 by JAMessersmith
I was raised by a single mother, and grandmother, and never really knew my father. He died when I was 12 and I only met him once when he was dying. I was supposedly around him a few times when I was a baby, but I don't remember.

Anyway, point being, I strongly believe women SHOULD be given right of way when it comes to raising children. A maternal influence is much more important than a paternal influence. This is not to say that all fathers are bad, because there are obviously good fathers out there (and this isn't to say that my own father was bad, given the circumstances), it's just to say that fatherhood is often an awkward relationship. Biologically speaking, men are programmed by instinct to "spread their seed" and move on, whereas women are programmed to care for their babies. Of course, societal pressure has largely broken down this biological imperative, but it still exists deep down nonetheless. I suppose it's a bit of a different story for daughters, because you always here stories of the stripper who didn't have a father (or at least that is the common stereotype), but in a son's case, having a father around isn't nearly as important as it's made out to be, and I can speak from firsthand experience. I really didn't miss much at all growing up without a dad, other than that intimidation factor of having a larger alpha-male around. Many of my friends have very good, upstanding fathers, but the relationship is still rather awkward, and never as close as it is with their mothers. So many fathers out there develop inferiority complexes with their sons and always try to compete with them and one-up them in everything they do. And besides, middle-aged men are strange creatures anyway. Again, that's not always the case, but that's hardly ever the case with mothers. If I had kids, and was getting a divorce, I wouldn't sue for custody because I wouldn't want to take that maternal influence away from them, and/or force them to choose between the two. I grew up to understand the value of a good mother, and didn't miss not having a dad. But maybe I'm alone on that one. It's not to say I wouldn't want to see my kids, but I would want their mother to have a bigger influence in their life, rightly or wrongly. Except for extreme situations, it really aggravates me to see divorced dads trying to take kids away from their mothers. That simply shouldn't be allowed, excluding the most dire of circumstances.
12:02 August 18, 2010 by RP_Lifer
@ Smith, wow that was a bizarre read. A fathers relationship with his children awkward ... hmmm, pretty offensive. Wow, whats the point of me investing so much of myself in my children if at the end of the day our relationship will be awkward (please dont answer it was in jest)? My wife is pregnant with our third child and I couldnt be more excited and look forward to all the experiences my first two yielded me. Well the bright side is my daughter hopefuly wont be working at a strip joint since I am present!
21:00 August 19, 2010 by rgill
I literally wept when I read this article. Its been two years since my bavarian partner decided to seperate. I have seen my children once. Each time I phone or write its all just ignored. Its devastating. All I have had in communicae is reminders of maintenance payments. Hopefully, this change will allow me to see my children without "begging".
17:11 September 21, 2010 by DamnImmigrant
Quit your belly aching and just accept the fact that men are only --

14:08 October 7, 2010 by delvek
warped view, my condolences to your immediate family
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