Lewis Kostiner - Choosing Fatherhood
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Families come in all sizes, shapes, and traditions, each a unique variation of a universal human theme. Whether one comes from a heterosexual, single-sex, or one-parent home, stability and love are paramount. Unfortunately, in the United States, the absence of fathers from their children's lives has become a real problem. In fact, the Brookings Institute has identified absentee fathers as America's most pressing problem-greater than the economy, education, the environment, health care, infrastructure, you name it. Why? Because nearly every social ill finds an umbrella, a home if you will, in the fatherless home.
Choosing Fatherhood: America's Second Chance is meant to explore this issue as no previous book has. And it does so through the art of photography, in which Lewis Kostiner makes portraits of dads who are involved in their children's lives. The book is also accompanied by essays written by leading authorities on the subject: Juan Williams of FOX News, David Travis who was Curator of Photography at the Art Institute of Chicago for more than thirty-five years, sociologist Shipra Parikh at Loyola University in Chicago, sociologist Derrick M. Bryan at the Morehouse College, and Roland Warren, former director of the National Fatherhood Initiative, a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing fatherhood in America, who also served on President Obama's task force on fatherless homes.
Getting fathers to be more involved in their children's lives is of paramount importance, if the United States is to regain ground as an international leader. Right now, the statistics look grim: forty years ago only eleven percent of America's children lived in homes without fathers, but today more than a third do. This translates into high poverty rates, high drop-out rates in high school, high rates of incarceration, multiple behavioral problems, and the list goes on.
As President Obama has declared, fatherhood does not begin with the ecstasy of conception but with the beauty of childbirth and the responsibilities that come with creating and caring for a human life. Although changes in custody rulings and other policy remedies are possible, behavioral patterns are often outside the reach of policy.Choosing Fatherhoodoffers a hopeful direction that America does have a second chance at correcting a troubling trend, but time is slipping, and awareness of the problem is an important start.