A Dad: the tenth most popular gift requested by children at Christmas

Dina sent me this sad article from the UK Telegraph.


A study of 2,000 British parents found most children will put a new baby brother or sister at the top of their Christmas list, closely followed by a request for a real-life reindeer.

A “pet horse” was the third most popular choice, with a “car” making a bizarre entry at number four.

Despite their material requests, the tenth most popular Christmas wish on the list was a “Dad”.

[…]A request for a “mum” reached number 23 on the list.

It’s sad. I think that there is a perception among many young women today that it is OK to have recreational premarital sex that may lead to having a child out of wedlock. Many unmarried women have an intuition (not supported by data) that a child will turn out fine without a father in the home. Some think (against the data) that fathers can be substituted with a government welfare check and that children won’t notice the difference. But the research shows that this is a false belief.


Census data and the Fragile Families survey show that marriage can be extremely effective in reducing child poverty. But the positive effects of married fathers are not limited to income alone. Children raised by married parents have substantially better life outcomes compared to similar children raised in single-parent homes.

When compared to children in intact married homes, children raised by single parents are more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems; be physically abused; smoke, drink, and use drugs; be aggressive; engage in violent, delinquent, and criminal behavior; have poor school performance; be expelled from school; and drop out of high school.[19] Many of these negative outcomes are associated with the higher poverty rates of single mothers. In many cases, however, the improvements in child well-being that are associated with marriage persist even after adjusting for differences in family income. This indicates that the father brings more to his home than just a paycheck.

The effect of married fathers on child outcomes can be quite pronounced. For example, examination of families with the same race and same parental education shows that, when compared to intact married families, children from single-parent homes are:

  • More than twice as likely to be arrested for a juvenile crime;[20]
  • Twice as likely to be treated for emotional and behavioral problems;[21]
  • Roughly twice as likely to be suspended or expelled from school;[22] and
  • A third more likely to drop out before completing high school.[23]

The effects of being raised in a single-parent home continue into adulthood. Comparing families of the same race and similar incomes, children from broken and single-parent homes are three times more likely to end up in jail by the time they reach age 30 than are children raised in intact married families.[24] Compared to girls raised in similar married families, girls from single-parent homes are more than twice as likely to have a child without being married, thereby repeating the negative cycle for another generation.[25]

Finally, the decline of marriage generates poverty in future generations. Children living in single-parent homes are 50 percent more likely to experience poverty as adults when compared to children from intact married homes. This intergenerational poverty effect persists even after adjusting for the original differences in family income and poverty during childhood.[26]

And here’s a bit more data showing that having government replace fathers via higher taxes and more redistribution of wealth doesn’t take away the bad effects of fatherlessness:

Children from low-income, two-parent families outperform students from high-income, single-parent homes. Almost twice as many high achievers come from two-parent homes as one-parent homes. Source: “One-Parent Families and Their Children;” Charles F. Kettering Foundation (1990).

Children reared by a divorced or never-married mother are less cooperative and score lower on tests of intelligence than children reared in intact families. Statistical analysis of the behavior and intelligence of these children revealed “significant detrimental effects” of living in a female-headed household. Growing up in a female-headed household remained a statistical predictor of behavior problems even after adjusting for differences in family income. Source: Greg L. Duncan, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn and Pamela Kato Klebanov, “Economic Deprivation and Early Childhood Development,” Child Development 65 (1994).

After taking into account race, socioeconomic status, sex, age, and ability, high school students from single-parent households were 1.7 times more likely to drop out than were their corresponding counterparts living with both biological parents. Source: McNeal, Ralph B. Jr.”Extracurricular Activities and High School Dropouts.” Sociology of Education 68(1995): 62-81.

I think that these are significant in light of the recent shooting in Connecticut:

In studies involving over 25,000 children using nationally representative data sets, children who lived with only one parent had lower grade point averages, lower college aspirations, poor attendance records, and higher drop out rates than students who lived with both parents. Source: McLanahan, Sara and Gary Sandefur. Growing up with a Single Parent: What Hurts, What Helps. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994.

A 1988 Department of Health and Human Services study found that at every income level except the very highest (over $50,000 a year), children living with never-married mothers were more likely than their counterparts in two-parent families to have been expelled or suspended from school, to display emotional problems, and to engage in antisocial behavior. Source: James Q. Wilson, “In Loco Parentis: Helping Children When Families Fail Them,” The Brookings Review, Fall 1993.

72% of adolescent murderers grew up without fathers. 60% of America’s rapists grew up the same way. Source: D. Cornell (et al.), Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 5. 1987. And N. Davidson, “Life Without Father,” Policy Review. 1990.

The likelihood that a young male will engage in criminal activity doubles if he is raised without a father and triples if he lives in a neighborhood with a high concentration of single-parent families. Source: A. Anne Hill, June O’Neill, “Underclass Behaviors in the United States,” CUNY, Baruch College. 1993.

The shooter in Connecticut hadn’t spoken to his father in two years:

Peter Lanza, the father of Sandy Hook shooter, hadn’t spoken to his son for more than two years and his father is at a loss for what drove Adam to kill 20 students and six teachers at his old elementary school.

[…]Adam, 20, had not spoken to his brother Ryan or father for upwards of two years at the time of the shooting. Adam reportedly distanced himself from his father Peter when he started to become serious with his new girlfriend, and current wife.

Peter and Adam’s mother Nancy split in 2001 but did not formally divorce until November 2008. Court records made the split appear amicable as both parties agreed to put their sons needs above any bitterness, but Adam was apparently the one to cut ties with his father in 2010.

Women need to think ahead and realize that the little children will be impacted by her choice of man, as well of her choice of whether to have recreational premarital sex with a man. If she doesn’t test him adequately and makes poor choices, then the children will be deprived of a father in the home. I don’t think that the sentiment “he makes me happy and horny and my friends approve of him” necessarily translates into “he can do the job of protecting, providing and leading on moral and spiritual issues”. Those are two different sets of criteria, and often at cross-purposes in a culture that despises traditional male roles as “sexist”.

9 thoughts on “A Dad: the tenth most popular gift requested by children at Christmas”

  1. “Despite their material requests, the tenth most popular Christmas wish on the list was a “Dad”.”

    I saw this on the Daily Mail, and wasn’t sure how to interpret it. Possibilities:

    1) Things are so bad that “I want a dad” makes the top 10
    2) Things are so good for those children of choice mommies that fatherless children rank “I want a dad” well below wanting an XBox
    3) Things are so bad that, intermixed with those 2,000 parents polled, that enough fatherless children said “I want a dad” of sufficient frequency to bump up “Dad” on the list past all those children of married parents’ requests for a pony or an XBox

    I also saw that factoid about Lanza and his alienation from dad. My sense early on has always been that the divorce impacted him more than people are willing to admit..or even ask the question.

    My mom caused my parents’ divorce…but all I knew was that my dad was leaving and we were moving into my maternal grandfather’s home. I blamed him because I didn’t know any better then. Perhaps Lanza did the same…became alienated from dad for “leaving”, and then got really POed when he found a new ladyfriend.


  2. Do you know what else to think of this? When you stigmatize single parent families you give those children every reason to perform poorly in school, to have low self esteem, to not feel a valid part of society. Stop with your antagonistic views that everyone has to have two parents, one male, one female. YOU stigmatize those children and encourage others to think of them as less than. YOU cause the real problems here. There is more than one reason that a child could be growing up in a one parent household and your petty characterizations make it bad for them no matter what the reasons are. If YOU could simply accept them as humans and treat them as humans the problem would quickly go away. YOUR ignorance exacerbates the problems and ensures they continue to the next generation.

    People with their noses so high in the air can’t tell if their shoes are tied. Quit telling other people how to live and start being a decent human yourself.


    1. Well, I presented evidence for my view that fatherlessness is child abuse and that we should communicate the facts to people so that they can guide their own decision-making around sex. I linked to over a dozen papers. Now you are saying that just calling fatherlessness good will alleviate all those problems somewhow. Do you have any evidence for your views? And why are you trying to force your views on me without evidence, anyway?

      In my mind, calling evil good just means that you normalize evil, and that just means more child abuse. I think my view is that we should go where the evidence leads and encourage people not to abuse their children. I guess your view (on atheism) is that we should call child abuse good, and call my opposition to child abuse evil. And that’s why theists think that atheists struggle with morality. Child abuse seems like a no brainer to us theists – we look at evidence and we say “adults need to care more about the needs of children”. You look at the evidence and you say “adults need to do whatever they want and we should call it good and let the children suffer, they are weak and we are strong”.

      By the way, did you know that fatherlessness is an aggravating factor for atheism?

      By the way, how do you feel about the murder of 1 million unborn children every year? Most atheists I know are pro-abortion. Are you in favor of child abuse there as well? That would be consistent with your other views.


      1. When a father comes home from the war in a casket, his children now live in a single parent home. Stigmatizing single parent homes hurts all the members of that family. When you label it as child abuse you are using a narrow definition to define an entire swath of the community. That’s obtuse and not going to help many people if any at all. You’ve also termed it as ‘evil’ but demonizing society that does not agree with your particular deity does not help anyone either.

        Trust me on this, atheism is not caused by how many parents you have living with you. The number one cause is the bible. The number two cause is Christians themselves. As for theists caring about child abuse – tell me why you are not out campaigning to have the pope put in jail and all his minions on trial for the real child abuse they have committed. Seriously, I mean that. Why aren’t you?

        Define the word child. When does the lump of cells in a woman’s body become a person? If you’re going to use the idea of a soul you’ll have to prove that we have one to make a valid point of it. What about all those ‘children’ that your god kills every year? He lets one starve about every 18 seconds. He let several children starve to death while you were reading this comment. Though the facts are not well reported, it is thought that as many as 30% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage – or what to you is the death of a child. http://miscarriage.about.com/od/pregnancyafterloss/qt/miscarriage-rates.htm

        Your arguments are weak. Neither of us has suggested a robust all-encompassing program to end inequality. I’m merely trying to point out where your ideas cause more harm than good. The term bastard is an ages old religious stigma attached to children with no known father. Like your Jesus. It has been used to demonize and stigmatize and oppress people for a very long time. Your idea to continue doing this is, if I may say so, evil in itself. Where is all that Christian compassion? Where’s the love? hmmm


        1. I can understand why WInteryKnight wouldn’t want to let my first response to this post be seen (multiple exclamation marks are a sign of an unbalanced mind). I think I should try again:

          Firstly, this is so obvious that only people who lack a better counter-argument than what you gave could ignore it: WinteryKnight is stigmatizing the parents who choose to raise their children by themselves. (Please repeat that to yourself for the next few minutes, before you continue reading.) Otherwise, he is not stigmatizing anybody. Why do you insist on using straw-men? Answer: Because that is the only thing you have to throw, to overturn the data.

          Secondly, suppose that we were talking about the evils of the atheist regimes of the world. Under your logic, the government would be justified in waving away these complaints as demonizing them for “theistic reasons”. The argument that WK is presenting has nothing to do with whether God exists, which should be self-evident.

          Thirdly, why should we trust you? You did something only desperate liars would do: assert that WinteryKnight was ignorant, despite the irrefutable fact that he did his homework.
          Seriously, can you at least give good statistics for your claims, since we’re all here? Your claims are going to be ignored for those two reasons.
          I should not waste my time on this, as this is probably what kept my first rebuttal off the page, but I will try again: the statistics between child molesting between the Catholic Clergy and the normal public are roughly equal, or else much less (it depends on the interpretation of the data). Are you suggesting we petition against the rest of the planet as well?

          Definition of the word “Child”: “A person too young to take care of him/herself.” Now, just to save any trouble that might come up, we shall define the word “Person”: “A being which is capable of cognition, can have subjective experience, and has intrinsic value.” A fetus in her mother usually meets the first and second criterion (unless they are missing their brain), as most rational people would accept as axiomatic (I will not pretend that there are no rational people who reject this premise). What of the third? You’re welcome to judge that for yourself.

          Fourthly, miscarriages and malnutrition, although important topics, have nothing to do with this discussion. Why must you try to distract people?

          Fifthly, your finishing remarks show that you don’t know anything about what you are attempting to discuss. Let us list the proofs in order:
          1. As has been said before, this is nothing to do with equality.
          2. WinteryKnight is not speaking against the children, he is speaking against the parents.
          3. WinteryKnight is not trying to keep this practice in the public domain; it proves nothing about either liberals or conservatives.
          4. Do you even know what compassion is? To be compassionate is to be aware of the suffering of another, and wishing to alleviate this suffering. Tell me: how does raising children as a single parent, when one is capable of doing otherwise, alleviate suffering? The fact that it causes so much damage proves that it doesn’t. WK is being compassionate, as he wants to fix the damage. Frankly, it seems clear that he knows how.
          5. I’m not surprised that you don’t know what Christian love is; most people in the modern church don’t seem to understand it either. Love is not “tolerance”, and it is not infatuation (which is good, as I don’t feel infatuation). To LOVE is to will the good upon the beloved. If having a father to raise a person is the best possible option for that person, the person who loved them (and knew what was best) would will that upon the other person. So if WinteryKnight’s data is correct, it follows that he is being more loving than people who have this data, but simply don’t care about what has been proven.


    2. Can I just ask a small number of stupid questions?

      SQ.1: Who says that WinteryKnight is stigmatizing children? It seems obvious that he is stigmatizing the PARENT, no?
      SQ.2: When is being antagonistic bad? Opposing bad ideas is justified, isn’t it? Surely, to say `no` is to take the doctrine of `tolerance` too far?
      SQ.3: What does this have to do with being less than human? Telling people how to raise children is not an equality issue, is it? Why am I always the last to know!
      SQ.4: So WinteryKnight should treat children like humans? Hasn’t he been doing that, whereas your ilk have failed? Who is it that kills children because they are unwanted (abortion)?
      SQ.5: So WinteryKnight is ignorant because he is the one reporting what the latest data says? May I borrow your dictionary?
      SQ.6: What would an atheist know of `decency`, when it is nothing but a cultural construct (in which case, there is nothing TO know)? Wouldn’t giving people only what they NEED be more decent than giving them only what they WANT?

      I think I have a valid rhetorical remark as well:
      The doctrine of `tolerance` takes itself too far by its very nature. It becomes its own antithesis. We should `tolerate` bad ideas, because if we didn’t, the doctrine would be inconsistent, for `tolerance` itself is a bad idea. It simply forces us to allow people to kill others (or else, we would be inconsistent).


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