Nevertheless, trends that diminish the importance of fathers from the family unit cannot — or should not — be celebrated. Contrary to the Hollywood version of single motherhood, single mothers are more likely to be younger, black or Hispanic and less educated, according to Pew, and they have a median family income of $23,000. In those families where married women earn more than their husbands, the woman is more often white, older and college educated and the median household income is $80,000.
In discussions of Pew's findings, conversations the past few days have veered toward practical questions of men's value. During a recent segment on MSNBC's “Morning Joe,” guests — all women — visited the familiar question: Why do women even need men?
The ladies worked earnestly to find positive roles for their hirsute colleagues, noting that men can be useful in family planning, child care sharing, working as part of a team. Although a man's presence was implicit in the hypothetical household, I waited futilely for emphasis to shift to the importance of fathers to their children's well-being.
Women, indeed, may not need men, though they seem to want them — at least until the estrogen ebbs. Women have become more self-sufficient (a good thing) and, given that they still do the lion's share of housework and child rearing, why, really, should they invite a man to the clutter?
Because, simply, children need a father. That not all get a good one is no argument against what is true and irrevocable and everlasting. Deep in the marrow of every human child burbles a question far more profound than those currently occupying coffee klatches: Who is my daddy?
And sadly these days, where is he?
WASHINGTON POST WRITERS GROUP