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June 28, 1996     The Message
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June 28, 1996

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l'He Message -- for Catltcs of Southwestern Indiana Fatherlessnesscalled great cultural shift in A00brican s By MARK PATTISON Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The lack of paternal responsibility is the greatest cultural shift in American society over the past 35 years, according to academi- cians and cultural critics speak- ing June 21 at a Washington conference. "The more we drift into single parenthood, the greater the risk we run," said Rutgers Universi- ty sociology professor David Popenoe, author of"Life With- out Father." He spoke at a forum during the conference, .sponsored by the American Pub- lic Philosophy Institute. "It's not the physical presence of the father so much as the psy- chological presence of the father," said Popenoe, who noted that children whose fathers have died do only slightly worse than those whose fathers are persistently absent. Popenoe pointed to several statistical trends to back his contention, including a statistic that boys from "nonintact" fam- ilies turn to delinquency two or three times more often than boys from intact families. Also, juvenile crime has increased six- fold in the past 35 years. Another statistic he cited was the high percentage of mothers working outside the home. The slippage in men's earnings in real dollars is a contributing fac- tor to that, he said, but he noted that in 1960 only 19 percent of women with children were in the labor force, compared to 55 percent today.- "What lurks behind this change?" Popenoe asked. "Mar- riage has weakened, obviously. Young people delay it, older peo- ple get out of it, and more and more people skip it altogether." He looked for some "glim- mers" of hope in other data, but cautioned that the trend could continue. One change is a leveling offin the divorce rate. On the other hand, Popenoe said, more peo- ple are living in "nonmarital cohabitational relationships." Another is the baby-boom generation reaching middle age. "As people grow older, their lifestyles and values become more familistic," Popenoe said. Still, he added, the boomers could become "greedy geezers," aping the materialism of their youth. David Blankenhorn, presi- dent of the Institute for Ameri- can Values and author of "Fatherless America," said at the same forum that "father- lessness is running side by side with fatherhood as the defining cultural experience of our gen- eration. We're sailing in uncharted waters." Blankenhorn called it "the most harmful social trend of our generation.., the ripping apart of the nucleus of the nuclear family." By age 18, he said, more than 50 percent of American children will have spent a significant amount of time away from their fathers. It hurts both boys and girls, Blankenhorn said. For boys, "not even the best mother in the world can teach her boy what it's like to be a man," he said. Fatherless girls, meanwhile, "didn't see the first man in her life love her mother" and likely go on a "desperate search for approval," the results of which too often become being pregnant by older men, he said. "This is one of those civiliza- tion questions: the_estrange- ment of the American male from his offspring and from the moth- er of his offspring," Blankenhorn said. "What is at stake here is: the success and survival of" the American experiment itself." New York Post movie critic Michael Medved blamed televi- sion for becoming the substitute parent in the household. "It's not the content of TV. It is the medium itself." In 1960, when TV was show- ing such blandly inoffensive but family-friendly fare as "Ozzie and Harriet," "Leave It to Beaver" and "Father Knows Best," baby boomers were reach- ing adolescence. By the time they reach age 75, they will have spent 13 years in front of the TV set, Medved said. He compared TV to heroin. "The bad heroin will kill you," Medved said. "But the good heroin is also addictive and will destroy you." TV is far from the myth of the "electronic hearth" bringing families together, Medved said. Fifty-eight percent of American families allow children to have TVs in their own bedrooms. TV has resulted in "the atom- ization of the American family," he said. "It isolates families from each other because every- one wants to be watching some- thing separately." Medved brought to his lun- cheon speech his three children, who have been raised in an envi- ronment without television. "I invite you to inspect them," he said. "They do not have hair on the palms of their hands. They do not have hOrns heads. The) TV-free household, "t  ; ;' ': : they are better for ], ' He said his wife, Diane,:a ical psychologist, with couples in riages. Knowing munication is troubled marriages, he first question to them have a TV in their If so, Medved tells them, Stewardship by the Both the first reading and the Gospel Our ministers speak of hospitality and welcome. hospitality are a most visible example of 1 one's time and talents to welcome the pE God. But the Gospel assures us that all even just "a cup of cold water" to one of His est ones will be rewarded. :: First Communicants at St. Raphael St. Raphael Church, Dubois, celebrated First Communion on April 28. ed, front row, Amanda Hopster, Ben Rasche, Hillarie Fischer, Amy Neukam," Krystal Knebel, Carrie Hynes, Whitney Hall, Nicole Schepers, Nathan Meyer, Adam Schroering, Jarett Freyberger, Andrew Merkel, Nicholas Ferguson, Brooke Reuber, Adeline Mathies, class Joan Schroeder, class assistant, Sam Schroeder, Quintin Merkel, Spaulding, pastor, Adam Scherle, server, Stacy Sherman and Kathleen % T Golden Jubilarians Damian "Pete" and Delores (Cook) Brothers of Evansville will celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary with a din- ner party for family and friends at the Petroleum Club on July 6. The couple was married July 8, 1946, at St. Joseph Church. They are the parents of Jerry Brothers of Spring, Tex., Ron Brothers of Plainfield, Ind., and Nancy Claspell of Evansville. They have eight grandchildren. Mr. Brothers retired from D-Patrick Ford in 1979 after 18 years of ser- vice. Mrs. Brothers is active in their business, Evana Automation. First Communicants at Sacred Heart Twenty-two students at Sacred Heart Church, Schnellville, made on May 19. They are, front row, left, Jennifer Lueken, Adam King, man, Jessica Chapman, Danielle Blume, Michelle Loechte, Stepl Bromm, Jacob Hazelip, Shayna Schnell, second row, Jared Atkins, Lee, Matthew Kern, Davin Spayd, Adam Huff, Richard Jacezsko, Andrea Stetter, Bradely Welp, Steffi Mehringer, son Kaiser, catechist, Nancy Rohl, catechist, Father Firmus Dick, er, server. i,L  ?:i