Dad. Pop. Old man. Whatever you call your father, remember that this week is the lead up to Father’s Day. It’s that time of year when bad ties and silly coffee cup sales skyrocket. So before it’s over I wanted to remind everyone the value of men and what they bring to parenting and building the next generation. 

Fathers have progressively been devalued in our society and it’s to our detriment. Multiple studies show that children raised without a father do worse in school, are more likely to have drug addiction issues, and have a higher rate of mental illness and suicidality. 

There are studies that show school shootings and mass casualty events have fatherlessness as a major contributing factor. It’s not a sole causation, obviously there are a multitude of factors, but it does seem to come up often. 

My parents divorced when I was 12 and my father died when I was 19. I had older brothers to be there, but they were growing into themselves in many ways. So in most ways it was just my mom and me. 

Raising children is a hard job, and it’s important to remember that as much as a woman can teach a child to be a good human, “Men teach men how to be men.” This is what I learned from the men’s group I attend. I’ve been a member for 23 years now, and in that time I’ve experienced the love and support of many different men.

They’ve been there for me at various times in my professional career as I’ve hit roadblocks, or crisis points. I’ve had different men come to my aid and comfort as I went through a brutally painful breakup. These men were there for me when my mother died. When my business died. When I wanted to run away. 

Older men have always shared with younger men their experiences. For years that was how you got a good job, you apprenticed. In professional settings there would be a mentoring program in place, and today that still holds true in the fields of law and medicine. To become a good lawyer, one usually clerks for a judge, or is the ‘bag carrier’ for an older lawyer who helps to show a youngster the ropes. In medicine young doctors go through stages of mentorship so they can develop skills and confidence in their practice.

That same relationship model – the older experienced man resource sharing with the younger enthusiastic neophyte is applicable in so many other areas. It comes so naturally to men, that it seems odd to think we should remind ourselves of its benefits. 

But that is what fathers are for. They’re there to teach boys to be men, and girls what to expect from a man.

One of the main reasons why fathers are important is they bring a playfulness and experimentation to life that opens a child’s mind and socialization. Where moms are focused on safety and protection of a child, a father brings boundary pushing, and risk taking. These are both important to the development of a full well rounded personality. 

In today’s society where the “future is female”, where gender is a social construct, where all manner of roles are being reevaluated, and considered, the role, that study after study has shown is crucial, is that of the father.

It’s convenient and easy to pick on the “doofus dad”, to make fun of the dad bod, to claim that dads can’t handle being single parents for a day, but all of that is just smoke for the marketers or those who have an agenda. 

The truth is, dads matter because kids need discipline, role models, to learn how to explore their environment, and how to be in the world. We remove them at our social peril. 

I don’t know all the answers, but I know enough to know that strong fathers help raise strong children to be strong members of our society. And we need more of that. 

Happy Father’s Day to the men who are doing the hard work of setting an example, stepping up to be pusher and enforcer of boundaries, and the protector of their children. 

David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist.  He welcomes your questions and comments.  He can be reached at dpisarra@pisarra.com or 310/664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra