‘About one in four American children now live without a father in the home.’
Jonathan Clark writing for City Journal, June 19:
The crisis of absent fathers is complex, but the tragic yield of that crisis is simple: about one in four American children now live without a father in the home. . . .
The decline in the culture of work has contributed greatly to the growing, comprehensive incapacity of men. Last year, over the holidays, I watched It’s a Wonderful Life with my young children, and they were puzzled by the scene in which George Bailey prevents Mr. Gower—the town pharmacist whose son was killed in the war—from accidentally poisoning a child through improperly mixed medicine. They understood Mr. Gower’s grief, but why was George, who appeared to be no more than 12, working in a pharmacy?
I don’t lament the loss of young children from the labor force, but it’s by no means unusual today for a man to graduate from college with no substantial work experience. The kind of entry-level jobs once performed by teenagers are now jealously guarded by adults with their own families. An affluent or well-connected young person might have internships, but while some involve substantial duties, they’re still a kind of playacting rather than work. For upper-middle-class professionals, real work may not begin until the mid-twenties. This phenomenon has bent the arc of maturation for men in ways that we’re just beginning to recognize.
This piece originally appeared at The Wall Street Journal (paywall)
Jonathan Clarke is a lawyer, essayist, and critic living in New York.
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