Divorce is horribly painful for boys

About a month ago, one of my friends ECM committed suicide. He used to send me a lot of stories for this blog. Whenever we talked about his background, he would always point to his parents’ divorce as something that really hurt him badly, and caused him to abandon the faith of his childhood for drinking and promiscuity in college. I found an editorial on Fox News that talks about some of the things that he told me he had experienced.

Suzanne Venker writes:

Broken homes, or homes without a physically and emotionally present mother and father, are the cause of most of society’s ills. “Unstable homes produce unstable children,” writes Peter Hasson at The Federalist.

He adds, “On CNN’s list of the “27 Deadliest Mass Shootings In U.S. History,” seven of those shootings were committed by young males since 2005. Of the seven, only one—Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho—was raised by his biological father throughout childhood.”

Life for Nikolas Cruz was no different. His adoptive father died when Cruz was very young, and his adoptive mother had a difficult time raising him.

America’s boys are in serious trouble. As Warren Farrell’s new book, The Boy Crisis, explains, boys are experiencing a crisis of education, a crisis of mental health (as in the case of Nikolas Cruz), a crisis of purpose. And at the root of it all is fatherlessness.

Indeed, there is a direct correlation between boys who grow up with absent fathers and boys who drop out of school, who drink, who do drugs, who become delinquent and who wind up in prison.

And who kill their classmates.

The reason why so many people on the left want to ban guns as the solution to violent crime they don’t like is because they don’t want to address the root cause of the problem: fatherlessness. And why don’t they want to address it? In a second editorial, Suzanne Venker explains why not.


To point out that boys need their fathers is to shine a spotlight on divorce and single mothers; and that is, admittedly, uncomfortable. But there’s no way to address fatherlessness comfortably.

The fact is, divorce and family breakdown—which, to answer my emailer’s question, is the root of fatherlessness—is catastrophic for children. There’s more than one reason why, but an obvious one is that in the majority of cases, divorce separates children from their fathers.

This is destructive to both boys and girls, but each sex suffers differently. Girls who grow up deprived of their father are more likely to become depressed, more likely to self-harm, and more likely to be promiscuous. But they still have their mothers, with whom they clearly identify. Boys do not have a comparable identification and thus suffer more from father absence. They also tend to act out in a manner that’s harmful to others, which girls typically do not.

[…]More often than not, children lose contact with their fathers—for two reasons. One, mothers remain the default custodial parent in the average American divorce and thus retain most of the control. Second, it is usually women who consider themselves the aggrieved party, as evidenced by the fact that wives initiate 70 percent of divorces.

The unfortunate result is that some divorced mothers use any opportunity to undermine their children’s relationship with their father or, if not that, dismiss the significance of a father’s role.

[…]And the saddest part is most absent fathers aren’t absent by choice. The “deadbeat dad” exists, but not in spades. In many instances, women are divorcing perfectly good husbands in their search for what they believe will be a better match—which is a natural outgrowth of no-fault divorce. Certainly, women who are married to abusive or dangerous men must file for divorce. But such husbands and fathers cannot account for the 70 percent female-led divorce rate.

Seventy percent of divorces are initiated by women, and most of those are for flimsy reasons like unhappiness. As if marriage is about feeling good, and it’s the other person’s job to make you feel good. And if they don’t make you feel good, then you can nuke the relationship. It can be very difficult for men to make women feel anything. Most men do the normal male roles in marriage: protect, provide, lead on moral and spiritual issues. But it’s becoming very common for women today to not be “happy” with the normal male roles.

Differing attitudes on divorce
Differing attitudes on divorce

Personally, I think it’s because of the pattern of hedonism that they build up with alcohol and promiscuity in college. The more men that women have sex with before marrying, the higher their likelihood of dissolving their marriage.

Even one non-husband premarital sex partner raises risk of divorce
Even one non-husband premarital sex partner raises risk of divorce

Previously, I blogged about a Swiss study that showed that children tend to rebel against the religion of their parents if the father is not actively promoting it to them. Studies of prominent atheists find that their fathers are defective in some way – absent, immoral, unfaithful, weak, etc. It’s not use crying about crime later if we as a society have decided to stay silent when women choose men poorly, and choose the timing of sex in relationships poorly. If women chase bad boys and make babies with bad boys, then we should be asking them why. This is a community, and poor decisions about who to make babies with costs us all in the long run.

14 thoughts on “Divorce is horribly painful for boys”

  1. Personally, I think it’s because of the pattern of hedonism that they build up with alcohol and promiscuity in college. The more men that women have sex with before marrying, the higher their likelihood of dissolving their marriage.

    Which likely stems from the removal of the biblical authority of a father over his daughter once she turns 18, and even before then! For her whole life society and her family will encourage a young girl to shun getting married young and to instead pursue a college degree and a long career. Her father will have no say in the matter, as the women in her life tell her that he couldn’t possibly know what’s right for her since he’s a man and can’t relate. She will attend public school and find a “boyfriend” of whom her parents may never even know of, or cycle through a number of boyfriends. She may even become sexually active and her parents would never know since she is out of the house 6+ hours a day and she only needs to go to school authorities for birth control, no questions asked. The school will even teach her how to have sex while reducing the risk of getting an STD or pregnancy.

    By the time she is out of high school she’s been passed around or passed herself around before even going to college where she has ZERO moral authority over her and is free to do what she wants, when she wants with whoever she wants. Colleges are no longer institutions of higher learning and are instead “experiences” of unfettered sex, alcohol and drug use.

    By the time she is old enough to feel like she wants to settle down she is damaged goods, no doubt used and abused by guys throughout her time in school, so she finds a guy with a good job and a “good personality”, but ends up hating him after a few years. She stays together for the sake of the kids, but with prodding from her friends and encouragement from media she finally pulls the trigger and divorces, taking the kids and most of her husbands stuff with her.

    Unable to find sufficient work to support her lifestyle and unable to squeeze anything else from her ex-husband she hates men with one exception. She dotes on her son and pretty much treats him like a boyfriend/girlfriend. She craves male attention and can only get it from him in some demented mother/son = girlfriend/boyfriend relationship (I’ve seen it before, its gross), while at the same time she doesn’t want her son to grow up to be “one of those guys” so she tries to raise him as a girl.

    In the meantime the son knows his mom hates his dad, doesn’t get to see him much, learns to hate him too since his mom pumps his head full of her side of the story, which is likely HEAVILY edited to make his dad look like a tool. He has no one to help shape his budding masculinity so it just rages out of control. At the same time his mom is telling him not to act on his instincts and babies him so his mind becomes conflicted and fractured because he is trying hard, at his mothers behest, to quash his natural desire to fight, to run, to lift, to be free.

    At some point he cannot take it anymore and he breaks. He either eschews masculinity altogether and becomes some flaming homosexual or his rage boils over and he does something awful as he lets it all out like shoot up a school. If he is lucky he finds some other outlet with strong men who can help guide him, but that becomes increasing difficult as, since divorce is so prevalent and no-father homes are so normal, the other men around him are just like him.

    If only there were a strong hand to have guided the young girl to begin with, someone she recognized as the defacto authority until she was married to a man who would then become her defacto authority. Not to crush her but to guide and protect her.

    Instead fathers are derided as idiots and husbands are portrayed as slave masters.

    There is a reason God said He hates divorce. We should to, as much as any other destructive institution in this world, be it murder or abortion. Sad to say its almost completely ignored in modern society, even after seeing its profoundly destructive effects.

    For the record I do not come from a divorced home, nor am I divorced, but I have had plenty of friends and still have plenty of friends who are products of the divorce machine. Yes they are frustrated people and yes the divorce of their parents STILL have a profound affect on their lives, decades after they have left home. Sad. Very sad.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I can’t tell you how many men from broken families that I met in college who said to me, “I can’t see myself getting married / I don’t want to get married. My parents went through a really messy divorce.” It was a lot of men — very eye-opening. They obviously went through a lot of pain and even at 18 or 19, they weren’t always able to articulate the deep pain caused by their parents’ divorce.

    Granted, I didn’t attend a Christian college and I was blessed with two non-Christian parents who refused to talk about divorce and they’re closing in on their 50th wedding anniversary.

    Unless provided a different or better model, most people learn a lot about conflict from their parents and immediate family. (Which does mean that a healthy church and good Christians can model good relationships for each other.)

    I sometimes feel that the role and the need for the father is minimized or denigrated. Women can have a child without a husband, even with a sperm donor. Even single women may adopt a child (13000 of them in 2011: source: https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/single_parent.pdf )

    My father-in-law abandoned my wife’s family when she was in her pre-teens and has habits of um, not being a one-woman kind of man. Fortunately for my wife, she became a Christian in her late teens and Christian families modeled what good relationships look like, and all of her female Christian friends married strong Christian men. Even observing from the outside, my wife did suffer and continues to suffer from self-confidence issues around her social skills and professional ambitions.

    Beating a drum that Wintery sometimes beats, I wonder if Christian women do think about whether a potential partner would be a good father? Not just being rich and able to provide materially. (I know some do. I wish more would consider that.)

    One things that I really like about the Westminster-Gordon-Conwell emphasis on covenantal theology is that they observe that marriage is a covenant. So what is a covenant?

    One of the best writers (Gordon P. Hugenberger, “Marriage as Covenant,” following M. G. Kline Sr.) has argued that covenant as “an (1) elective, as opposed to natural, (2) [family-like] relationship of (3) obligation (4) established under divine sanction.” So what’s going on with marriage? The two parties (1) chose to enter into a covenant relationship, which now (2) creates a new family (or family-like) relationship, and there are (3) obligations, and (4) it is overseen by God.

    People chose to enter into a marriage who weren’t from the same family.

    And it creates a new family.

    There are obligations to each other (both parties said vows).

    Ultimately, it is not up to each side to police each other (e.g., there is no “if you don’t hold up your end of the bargain, I won’t hold up mine” or “if you go 55% first, I’ll go 55%.”) It is up to God — but each party is accountable or answerable to God. Both parties vowed something like, “for richer or for poorer, whether in sickness or in health” …

    If you’re a Christian, and you got married anywhere, you are answerable to God. That should be very sobering for some people to think about. There shouldn’t be any frivolous reasons like “irreconcilable differences” or put conversely, God only makes one explicit allowance for divorce (unfaithfulness/adultery) and arguably some might say abandonment …

    Hedonism basically says “I’m the boss (I cater to my pleasures), God is not the boss.” Functionally, that’s atheism or agnosticism — which is why it’s important to be REALLY DISCERNING when dating. You want to get a sense of what motivates a person.

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  3. i am very sorry to hear about your friend.

    i am continuously disheartened when women discount the effects of divorce, especially when they discount the effects of divorce on boys and men. i have a friend who recently divorced her husband. they have one teenage son. my heart breaks. i did share with her what i believed long before she made the final decision, but she went with the divorce. she even said to me she knew i did not agree. she’s already with someone else and has mentioned her son is having difficulty. and my heart weeps.


  4. I’m very sorry to hear about your friend, and am glad you have God to help you through the loss.

    As to the comments—reading this today is somewhat interesting timing. For whatever reason, this morning I was pondering the fact that parents–but especially, it seems, fathers—do not or do not think they’re allowed to tell their daughters they’re not allowed to date or marry specific men, when in the past this was hardly unheard of (and often enforced—well, forcefully).

    In my experience, men are less likely to worry about their daughter’s perceived “happiness” and are more concerned with the long-term ramifications of her actions and relationships, whereas contemporary mothers are very concerned with what is “fair” and makes their daughters happy, without considering the potential for future harm (or good, for that matter—it’s as if they themselves are dating all over again or something). I know of at least two cases where fathers had serious and well-considered reservations about men their daughters were dating, but they were shut down in favour of what made the daughters ‘happy’. Two divorced mothers with young sons were the result. Both mothers pretend they had nothing to do with this.

    Thus the cycle continues.


    1. Yes. But the thing that has changed is that wives seem to be more confident about overruling the leadership of fathers.

      Consider this scenario:

      That’s my absolute nightmare. Men see how judges and lawyers step in to overrule them and control their families (e.g. – divorce courts) and they don’t marry.
      Men understand that it is a nightmare to be forced to provide for a family, and not given the respect as the leader. No man wants to work hard and pay the bills, and then be ruled by others.
      That lawyer and judge were being paid out of his taxes! Imagine that.


      1. That’s awful! What business do the courts have stepping into a parental discipline issue? Argh…

        Just another symptom of not only our fallenness and rebellion against God and a just order. You’re right, it is nightmarish. Women are supposed to submit to their husbands and trust God with all. Feelings are given far, far too much weight these days.

        That case truly is outrageous.


  5. As I begin a series of blog posts related to the recent school shooting in Florida, I’ve been considering how to incorporate character issues into my ideas about prevention, and this notion of fatherless boys is an important one.

    My father died when I was nine and my mother didn’t re-marry until I was in my early twenties (if I recall properly). I feel that all those years being raised without the direct influence of a father affected me negatively, though my rebellious youth wasn’t close to a worst example of such. There was always a void left unfilled, and “how to be a man” was a lesson not adequately learned through mothering. Sure. She taught much that Dad would have taught (though without the smacking around), but it’s not the same…not by a long shot, bless her soul for trying. Now, as I’m near retirement age, I still have to consciously assume the “how to be a man” code and it’s a struggle sometimes as it isn’t as ingrained as I think it would be had Dad not passed so soon.

    But to have one’s father leave, or to be taken from him by an unhappy mother…that has to add a mean twist to the whole thing. One can be angry at the world in either case, but separation from a father who lives and should be there surely adds another layer of grief. It’s abandonment, and if it’s due to the mother, one is actually living with the one who did the abandoning…a cruel irony.

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  6. I do believe that under God a woman and a man can be a strength in the family which is another thing against gay marriage since you don’t have the natural male / female view in situations.

    But a man will often follow rules more strongly believing in disciple to teach consequences. A woman on private out of view of the kids may at times keep men from being too harsh in all cases and we get a better balance. Once in a while some grace can be given in situations and a woman is more likely to give it.

    But without the balance and unified front you get the generation of kids that don’t believe in consequences because they often talk their way out of it, and their mom believes that that this time the twentieth time they have done the same thing they really understand they have learned their lesson.

    Many women also seem to feel like they need to overcompensate in material items or their time to make up for a lack of father. So the giving when they can’t afford makes them believe you get everything you want and the kids aren’t thankful for all the parents gave up to buy them material possessions of the personal time they never had as a personal taxi service

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Boys raised by single mothers often become feminized and shielded from anything remotely “dangerous” like playing cops and robbers, toy guns, cowboy movies etc… Now, they knit sweaters with mommy and absorb her feminist ways. She is resentful over losing her husband and decides to hate on men and the son picks up on that. The whole societal lie that single parents can do a two parent job is utterly false. A child needs both genders to get a balanced view of the world. One parent cannot be there half the time two can as one is always away somewhere and can’t be with their kids and at work at the same time! These feminized boys with no father figures grow up to be feminized men and think divorce and single parent homes are the norm, which sadly now they are. They grow to be weak spineless men under the thumb of radical liberal wives and girlfriends. When will society stop this delusion of divorce is normal and “any family is a real family” and go back to accountability, responsibility and commitment to a real family. Mom and Dad.


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