Fatherless America Essay

28 he summarized much of his thesis by writing: “Today, fatherlessness is viewed as normal--regrettable, perhaps, but acceptable.”The splash has puzzled some in the field.

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His parents are still married, to each other, and reside in his hometown of Jackson, Miss., where Blankenhorn and his own 5-year-old son, Raymond, recently spent a long, lazy weekend fishing and eating good Southern food.

On his wall, Blankenhorn keeps a framed note from his father, who greeted the news that his oldest son had been accepted to Harvard by telling him, “Well, son, I’m sure we can make the necessary sacrifices to send you to that fine Yankee institution.

We are in uncharted waters.”With his book, his think tank and his powerful arsenal of facts about fatherhood, Blankenhorn has taken the helm as de facto navigator.

“No society has ever experienced what we are experiencing.

To me, they were the bad guys.”Blankenhorn inaugurated his venture three years later, working from a single desk in the greeting card company that his wife, Raina Sacks Blankenhorn, was in the process of selling to Dutch entrepreneurs.

The gap between “the pretension of the name” and the actual operation was laughable, Blankenhorn said.“The most important issues had to do with raising children, with finding a way for men and women to live together and raise their children.”Half-facetiously, Blankenhorn recalled how at 29, he decided that “what the world needed was another think tank"--a research group devoted exclusively to family issues.Hovering around “the left of the political structure” in that heyday of the Reagan Revolution, Blankenhorn said he was troubled by the rise of “the very conservative think tanks, the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute. “Fatherless America” has instantly become a catch phrase. Far from promising a trouble-free voyage, he has begun by making giant waves.Nobody knows if you mean abortion or Woody Allen.” He has also strived, right from the beginning, to avoid “sanctimonious finger-pointing” in any political direction.“I don’t like hearing people say, ‘We’re in a pickle, and it’s all because of this group or that group,’ ” Blankenhorn said.Levine, director of the Fatherhood Project at New York’s Families and Work Institute, characterized “Fatherless America” as “an easily graspable and emotionally powerful” image.“It’s a great book title,” Levine said, “but it’s a sloppy analysis of what’s really going on in America, an analysis that actually limits Blankenhorn’s ability to make useful recommendations for the key issue: Given that fathers are important, how can we go about connecting them to their children, supporting their many roles in the family?”Along with the mandatory component, perhaps, of carping, Blankenhorn’s meteoric rise on the fatherhood front has earned him a small measure of mythology. His name seems to be popping up everywhere, most recently on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, where on Feb. Blankenhorn, board chairman of the National Fatherhood Initiative, is using that group’s nationwide tour as a vehicle to promote the ideas in his book.


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