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Divorced Dads Hardcover – September 28, 1998
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From Publishers Weekly
Men who bridle at the stereotype of the "deadbeat dad" with "zipper" problems who vanishes from his children's lives will find consolation in this provocative look at fatherhood in the age of divorce. In an effort to rehabilitate the image of divorced dads and to present them as overwhelmingly responsible and caring parents, Braver, a professor of psychology at Arizona State University, explains how the negative stereotypes have taken hold. Basing his theories on a study he conducted over eight years with 1000 divorcing couples, he argues that faulty research and the need for a villain in divorce cases has fueled a "jeering chorus" of politicians, journalists and sociologists that has transformed bad fatherhood into "an obvious and defenseless scapegoat for the ills of society." Although the U.S. Census Bureau reports that only half of all women receive the child support awarded by the courts, the author contends that this figure is suspect because it doesn't distinguish between divorced fathers and those who've never been married; the latter group, he argues, is less likely to comply with child support. He also contends that many women give erroneous responses when questioned about the money they've received. Braver supports joint custody as being in the child's best interest, but his conviction that children without active fathers join gangs, commit crimes, become pregnant or fail in school?an idea that Braver traces to Patrick Moynihan's now famous 1968 treatise on broken families?is highly debatable. Braver's argument for encouraging dads to get more involved in their families is refreshingly free of chest-thumping rhetoric, but readers with more fluid, less patriarchal notions of family life will find much here to question. Editor, Irene Prokop; agent, Janet Spencer King.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
funded study showing that some divorced fathers really do care about their children. In 1985, Braver (Psychology/Arizona State Univ.) began following more than 1,000 families in Maricopa County, Ariz. (which includes Phoenix), who had filed for divorce but whose marriages were not yet dissolved. His purpose was to put some meat on the bones of the numbers that pointed to divorced dads as abandoning their children financially and emotionally, and to find out why this was happening, if it was. He and his colleagues discovered the numbers were wrong. The Census Bureau figures that had fueled tough new laws (and expensive bureaucracies) to enforce child support were based on interviews only with custodial parents (usually mothers). Then, too, census researchers combined statistics concerning families of divorce with those of never-married single parents to create what Braver calls the myth of deadbeat dads. The author's research demonstrates that the divorced father's unemployment is the most important factor in nonpayment of child support. Myths under attack: the ``disappearing dad,'' who initiates the divorce and then deserts his children; and the widely cited 73 percent drop in standard of living that divorced mothers and children suffer (an alleged error in arithmetic by Harvard researcher Lenore Weitzman). Braver's calculations indicate that post-divorce mothers and fathers share about the same standard of living, at least in the beginning. Although hes not above citing outmoded figures and attitudes himself, Braver does demonstrate that much of the negative view of divorced fathers is dated. The book concludes with suggestions for reform of custody policies and for programs, including extensive counseling and mediation, to either prevent divorce or help both parents minimize its impact on their children. Male martyrdom may be overstated here, but new material suggests that everyone, including fathers, suffers in divorce. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Top Customer Reviews
The perfect read for divorced dads and their supporters, and for anyone who wants to more fully understand how academics, the media, and the system continue to feed negative stereotypes of fathers. In the past few years I've bought a copy for myself and several more to give away.
Buy your self 3 copies now to avoid coming back for more in a few months after you've read it. Then send one to your legislators or anyone in you local media who report these myths as true.
"You know, I've heard about your (Dr. Braver's) findings. Our panel was discussing this very issue, of differences between mother's and father's answers, over lunch. And what we concluded was if the mother tells you one thing and the father tells you something else, then the father is a g--damned liar."
Dr. Braver's book should be in the hands of every legislator who purports to conduct an equitable review of the Divorce Industry.
Gerald L. Rowles, Ph.D.
I came away from a careful reading of this book convinced that approaching the problem of child support collection by increasing enforcement mechanisms and penalties is doomed to failure. These approaches seem attractive only because we have misunderstood the problem.
I believe the book will also be helpful for divorced and divorcing fathers. They will learn that they are not alone in the way they have been treated by the divorce system. *Divorced Dads* is neither a self-help book nor an advocacy book. But it will help divorced fathers understand their situation and it will certainly provide the research to ground advocacy to change our current divorce system.