In 411 BC, ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes staged Lysistrata, a story about a Athenian woman who ends the interminable Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta by convincing the women of Greece to withhold sex (and seize the treasury) from the men, who of course make all the decisions about war and money.
Powerful and possible message that women can change the world with our pussies?
Disturbing fact: the majority of fathers who are not in romantic relationships with the children’s mothers, are not actively involved with the kids. In fact, Pew found that a full 78 percent of dads who live separately from their children, see the kids less than once per week.
That means that just 22 percent of dads who do not live in the same house as their kids are actively involved.
That is bad.
It is also complicated.
One of the most posts on Wealthysinglemommy.com is ‘The real reason your ex doesn’t see the kids’ about the so-very-common and heartbreaking reality that men are systematically marginalized in family courts — and parental alienation, a form of abuse in which one parent turns a child against the other parent, is shockingly common. Read more: Parental alienation resource center.
It is bad for the kids, of course, because they miss out on a close relationship with their father.
It is bad for the moms, who do not enjoy the emotional, logistical or time-off afforded by a co-parent. This, too, hurts kids, who then are more likely to have an exhausted and stressed-out mom who is worried about the effects of an absentee dad on her children.
Absentee fatherhood is bad for the dads, too. Whatever the circumstances are, they miss out on parenting, close relationships with their children, and the pride of knowing they are upholding their parental responsibilities.
The more men do not step up and father their children, the worst it makes it for all men and fathers. This becomes the norm, a horrible norm, and men are not given the benefit of doubt in family court, in society or on the playground.
Further, the fewer active dads around, the fewer active dads our children see — and as a society we stand to have this trend perpetuated forever and ever.
Bottom line: Absentee fathers are bad for everyone, including society itself.
Listen to my Like a Mother episode about this topic:
If you read the comments in ‘The real reason your ex doesn’t see the kids,’ you will hear all kinds of stories — heart-breaking stories from guys claiming their devotion to their children, but forced alienation by unjust courts and vindictive mothers. There are also stories from moms who claim it is for the best the dad is not around, because of abuse, addiction or roller-coaster inconsistency. Incarceration is another common reason fathers are not active in their kids’ lives.
Of course, every case is different, there are plenty of grey areas, and it is true that sometimes parents are best not involved with their kids.
But this is what I will tell you, and you, woman, know to be true:
If some crazy person or circumstance stood between me seeing my kids often, I would fight like mighty hell to change that.
I would fight because I want to be an intimate part of their lives.
I would fight because that is my moral obligation as a mother.
I would fight because I would need my children to see me fight for them. Because I would worry that my not fighting would be even more painful for them than not being involved every day or every week.
I would fight because fighting for my relationship with my kids would be fighting for all parents’ relationship with their children — and against a messed-up court system, or insane and malicious parents who try to keep the other parent away must not be allowed to persist.
And so when you meet a man — a nice and hot and successful or funny and thoughtful and sexy man — and he says he has kids, and you find out he doesn’t see them so much, and he tells you all these reasons why, what do you do?
Do you excuse him? Blame the system/judge/bitch ex/his job/society for his absence?
Do you tell yourself, ‘He will be different with any kids we have together — because I will change him.’
Do you think, ‘It is just a fun fling. His personal life is his business.’
If you care about those kids he doesn’t see — care as a person, a woman, as a mother (aspiring or actual), a member of society, here is what you do:
You will not see him.
You will not respond to his texts.
You will not fuck him.
You will know that if is a bad dad to his current kids, he will be a bad dad to future kids.
You will say: “It makes me uncomfortable that you don’t see your kids.”
Or: “Frankly, I don’t like the fact your kids are not your priority.”
You will not listen to his excuses.
You will just shut that down.
And you will encourage your girlfriends to do the same. And your cousin and sister and colleagues, too.
Before long, you and me and all of the women of the world will be like Lysistrata and her fellow women, changing the world with our pussies.
And that is good.
Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post’s ‘Must Read” list.
Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.
A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.