Here’s to fathers

Here’s to fathers. Grandfathers and godfathers, too. Natural and adopted alike.

Father’s Day weekend honors the institution of fatherhood. And it continues to play an important role in society today. Hopefully, it will continue to do so for years to come.

The responsibility of child rearing is why fatherhood matters. George Danby | BDN

One of the greatest predictors of a child’s future economic prosperity is whether he or she grows up in a community of two-parent households. Even if a child only lives with a single parent, the impact of stable families around them seems to have a halo effect. Other research suggests that growing up with two married parents provides an economic springboard for future success.

As always, the “why?” question is harder to answer, but it likely isn’t magic. Rather, it’s that when a couple intends to start a family, they are likely emotionally and financially prepared for the challenge. They are probably a little bit older, with a more stable job, and more secure housing.

And there is probably something to the old saying that “many hands make light work.” Child care is incredibly expensive. When a household has two parents, they have a chance to divvy up the duties. Maybe both adults work and earn enough to afford daycare. Maybe one parent chooses to stay home.

The responsibility of child rearing is why fatherhood matters. Kids do not spring forth from the ground. A man, at some point, was part of the equation. Shouldering the foreseeable result for that decision is the essence of fatherhood. And it gives their children the opportunity to do better.

That is why, despite countless good intentions and creative ideas, building shared prosperity cannot simply be done through laws in Augusta or spending in Washington.  

The math bares this out. Using a calculator featured in the Bangor Daily News in 2015 and updated for today, a single adult with a single child at home needs to earn $4,731 per month — almost $57,000 annually — to live “comfortably” in the Bangor area.  At 40 hours per week, that is a job paying $27.30 an hour.

Now, let’s assume there are two adults working to provide for their only daughter. The family needs $5,717 a month to be comfortable. If both parents work 40 hours a week, they would need jobs that pay on average $16.50 an hour.   

Yet, while the economics show that having two adults in a household provides a reasonable opportunity for comfortable lifestyle for a young family, the importance of fatherhood is something more than mere math.

“Manhood” gets a bad wrap nowadays. Some of it is deserved. The accusations against Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, and Bill Cosby reflect an entitlement based on fame and sex that is simply wrong.  

But others — our fathers and grandfathers — show us the good side of masculinity. Their presence in our lives gives us something to aspire to, to model, to emulate. I see it in my grandfather, who recently shared his memories of D-Day. The example of men going into harms way — that others might be free — is but one lesson we can learn from our fathers.  

Fatherhood is important because it shows the next generation of boys what it means to be a father. It gives children a chance at prosperity. And, ideally, it shows them how to become men.

So Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there doing things right. Good kids, doing good things, is one of the best legacies anyone can leave.  And fathers can be a big part of it.

Michael Cianchette

About Michael Cianchette

Michael Cianchette was the chief counsel to Gov. Paul LePage from 2012-2013 and deputy counsel from 2011-2012. A Navy reservist, he was deployed to Afghanistan from 2013-2014 as a trainer and adviser to the Afghan National Police. He is an alumnus of the Leadership Maine program and holds a BA in economics and political science from Boston College along with a JD and an MBA from Suffolk University. He works as in-house counsel and financial manager for a number of affiliated companies in southern Maine.