I wrote a brief piece in the current issue of The Atlantic with the rather provocative title, Are Fathers Necessary? that to me, at least, offered a rather prosaic conclusion: Yes, most of us consider fathers to be necessary and value them as such, but the existing research does not bear out any benefits exclusive to biological fathers. The piece also substantiated the benefits of lesbian mothers, something I explored in an earlier piece on a lesbian foster couple in The New York Times Magazine.
Predictably, and unfortunately, there was a lot of misreading (or nonreading?) of the article, reflected in many of the comments, which were too often ad hominem and erroneous (both in describing the studies I cited and in characterizing the article I wrote). But today a bright light shines at The Economist, where a post reports, accurately and fairly, on both the study and its conclusions. It’s a bit late to celebrate Father’s Day proper here, but I’m always glad to see stories that fairly represent the benefits of both fathers and lesbian mothers.
I realize it’s been an absurdly long time since I’ve posted, so I’m going to offer some explanation and try to at least begin to get caught up. The short explanation is: Three kids! I had a baby last year and between him and my other two children, I am still calibrating what full-time employment looks like. Mostly, so far, it means constantly catching up and still feeling behind. But it’s all worth it.
I’ll point to some of what I’ve been up to in the recent weeks — err, months — over the next few days (or weeks, depending). My latest is the most recent column I wrote for The New York Times Styles section. The basic idea behind the column is to highlight and briefly analyze the methodology and conclusions of a new social science study (or two or three) on topics related to everything from love to consumer behavior to marriage to social psychology, parenting, demography, and family life. My most recent column, which ran on Sunday, examines a new paper on empathy in college students.
The piece includes a link to a survey where you can check out how you fare on empathy in comparison to the surveyed students. So far, this has been my most read column in the Styles section, as far as I can tell. At least, it’s on top of the Most Emailed list, which is very exciting. Would love to hear what you think.