Mark W. Hendrickson

This isn’t going to be one of those sentimental Father’s Day articles, even though that is what I would prefer. This article will have a bit of an edge to it. Please excuse my bluntness, but fatherhood is serious business, and for me to sugarcoat or evade the truth about it would benefit nobody.

Here goes: What does my peculiar title mean? Aren’t all fathers men? No, they are not. All fathers are male, but not all fathers are men. Maleness is a biological identity, a physical reality, a matter of hormones and organs. Manliness, on the other hand, is a matter of character, an intangible quality, a demonstrated achievement of maturity that not all adult males attain.

Several years ago, I wrote about an appalling situation in our country—the fact that the second leading cause of death of pregnant women in the U.S. is homicide, usually perpetrated by the father of the unborn child. Some males are so selfish and antisocial that they reduce their lover to an object that they will destroy rather than allow her to give birth to the precious life that they have conceived together.

It is a socioeconomic fact that one of the two leading causes of long-term poverty in America is for women to bear children out of wedlock. (The other leading cause is failing to complete high school.) For a male to use a lover for a few moments of pleasure and then abandon her to a lifetime of poverty because he doesn’t want the responsibilities of fatherhood is cruelly selfish. Don’t do it, fellows.

Fatherhood is one of life’s most momentous choices. Males can become men by accepting the responsibilities of fatherhood, by marrying and committing themselves to full-time partnership in raising, teaching, and financially supporting their offspring. Alternatively, males can opt for bachelorhood, “freedom” (from responsibility) and let their lover bear the psychological and financial cost of intimacy.


Mark W. Hendrickson

Dr. Mark W. Hendrickson is an adjunct faculty member, economist, and fellow for economic and social policy with The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College.