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Focus on the Family’s Message to Divorced Dads:

July 24, 2012

By Randy Berg

Be warmed and be filled, then Go Away and let Mom raise the Kids Without You

Focus on the Family is one of the largest and most influential Christian Para church ministries in the world. Their 30-minute radio programs on family related issues are broadcasted five days a week on about 2000 stations across North and South America, and have been doing so for over 30 years.  They employ approximately 7,000 workers, and it is not a stretch to say that they are among the top 10 most influential Christian ministries in the world.

I used to listen to and contribute to them on a regular basis.  Then one day not long after my divorce, I was talking to another former dad like myself about the fact that divorced fathers are, for the most part, treated like stray dogs by America’s family courts, and during our discussion I mentioned Focus on the Family and their founder and leader Dr. James Dobson. It was then that I learned something I had no idea of: i.e. that Dr. Dobson was not at all on the side of divorced fathers, but rather had chosen to side with single moms and to teach them that dads are not really, all that, necessary.  I have to admit that I was shocked and almost in total disbelief; however, he seemed adamant about this and challenged me to check it out for myself.  So I did just that: via  the Internet and by writing to Focus on the Family on seven different occasions over a 2.5 year period: six of which I received written responses to.

To my astonishment, I discovered that my friend was right, that Focus on the Family has chosen, in effect, to throw divorced dads under the bus and to teach single moms that their children’s father’s presence or absence is really not that important, and certainly not necessary to your child’s well-being.  When I discussed this with another Father’s Right’s activist who has been involved for over 20 years, he became emotional and told me in no uncertain terms that, “Dobson has done NOTHING for fathers rights.”  In fact, to my knowledge, Focus on the Family has yet to take the time to interview three of the top experts on this very subject.  I am speaking of Dr. Sanford Braver, Dr. Warren Farrell, and Dr. Stephen Baskerville: each of whom have written books on the subject of Divorced fathers.  In fact, Dr. Braver and his team received the largest federal grant ever to study why it was that so many fathers were seemingly  (or so it was said) “abandoning” their children after divorce.  Dr. Braver and his team were the first researchers to take the time to interview BOTH the mothers and the fathers.  And he and his team did so for eight years, with hundreds of divorcing couples, taking time to interview them shortly after filing for divorce, again a year later, and then two years afterward: or three years after filing papers with the court.

What Dr. Braver and his team discovered was not what they expected, since it sharply contradicted the image that the media had been portraying about divorced fathers for many years.  In fact Dr. Braver discovered six different beliefs about divorced fathers that were widely believed, but nonetheless false.  These false beliefs are as follows:

1.  That Divorced Dads are Deadbeat Dads
2.  That Divorced Dads are Runaway Dads
3.  That Divorced Dads Impoverish their former Wives and Children
4.  That Divorce Settlements tilt unfairly in favor of Divorced Fathers
5.  That Fathers are better off emotionally than their Ex-wives and Children after a divorce
6.  That Fathers are the ones who most commonly initiate Divorce proceedings

In his ground-breaking book, Divorced Dads, Dr. Braver tells why each of the above statements are False.  For example, on page 175 of Dr. Braver’s book he states that:

The most important pathway to a father’s feeling parentally enfranchised … (i.e. that his role as a father is important) is having an ex-wife who desires …  supports and encourages his involvement(with his child and/or children), as compared to one who wants … (him) altogether out of the way.” 

On the same page, Dr. Braver also stated that:

“In a large proportion of divorces, the mother sees little value in any contact between child and father.  She doesn’t want to have to accommodate his desires or tastes as a father.  Instead, she wishes to be rid of him and his influence …”

In like manner, Focus on the Family seems to have same attitude about divorced fathers as the single mothers described above: i.e. that while they may be of help in raising the Kids, they are NOT necessary, and in fact, can easily be replaced by another man.  I say this because in one of the seven letters that I wrote them, when I asked why they have yet to take the time to interview a former dad like myself (in over 9,000 interviews on family related topics), they told me it was because their  “Broadcast division (staff) … regularly receive hundreds of compelling and significant ideas … “  but  “nonetheless, they’ll be certain to give this topic consideration …”   In another letter they told me that “there are simply no easy answers” as they wished me “all the best in the days ahead.”  including  “God’s grace, peace and blessings …”   This is like saying: “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled” to someone who is hungry and in need of shelter, while sending them on their way with nothing more than mons-bots (i.e. good words).  In I John 3:16-18 and James 2:15-16 we see what God thinks of doing nothing to fix a problem that is within your power to change: or at the very least, to alert your listening audience to the wolves that are dressing in sheep’s clothing and tearing up the sheep.  See also Malachi 4:5-6 to see what God thinks of separating fathers from their children by unethical means, such as malice and Greed, and/or for frivolous reasons: and note that doing so will bring a curse upon the whole land.

In fact, it’s because of God’s grace, blessing, and direction that I am writing this today: and because I believe He has  told me to do so.

The above assertion that Focus on the Family really doesn’t care (all that much) about divorced fathers is also seen by their “Father Substitute” policy that they have been teaching to single moms for many years. I.e. that fathers are not that difficult to replace.

In addition, I also took the time to perform various Internet searches that further confirm the above. For example, a  Google search for “James Dobson” + “todays program” + “single moms” produced 48 hits: vs. 1 for the same with “single dads”.  In like manner “Jim Daly” + “todays program” + “single moms” yielded 79 hits: vs. 0 for “single dads.”  And substituting the above “todays program” with “radio program”  produced 175 hits for “single moms” : vs. 1 for “single dads.”  Likewise if we substitute the above with “single mothers” we get 179 hits, vs. 2 for “single fathers.”

What should we expect?   In other words, before divorce, how much time does the average mother spend with her kids, vs. the average father?  The answer was not that difficult to obtain.  According to a recent Russell Sage Foundation study, in the year 2000, the average mother spent 12.9 hours a week playing with and teaching her children, vs. 6.5 hours a week for the average father.  This is about 66 percent vs. 34 percent.  However after divorce the average custodial time that the children are in a mother’s care is somewhere between 80-100 percent, while the average father’s custodial time with his children drops by whatever is left over, and in about 20 percent of cases, fathers don’t even get to “visit” their children at all: even when there was no abuse, and when such was NOT what he nor his child, or children, wanted.

For example, in my case it was because I ran out of money for an attorney, plus a private mediator — after paying them roughly $50,000 over a 5 and 1/2 year period. In fact, the time that I got to spend with my Daughter after my former spouse and I separated was exactly proportional to the amount of money I was willing to pay to the family court’s cohort of Crooks: over and above “child support.”  At one time they had me paying almost Five times more than my monthly “Child Support”: One payment to mom, and Four to the family court’s cohort of professional Liars, thieves and kidnappers.  And not long after I stopped paying them, they “terminated” my parental rights altogether and gave sole legal custody to mom.

Randy S. Berg

See also:
Deadbeats or Beatdeads?
Where Have all “D” Father’s Gone?



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4 Responses to Focus on the Family’s Message to Divorced Dads:

  1. Fred on May 20, 2022 at 11:42 AM

    Told both of my teenage sons to not get married or live with women for the reason that they are not money machines purposed with supporting a girlfriend, wife or ex wife.

    Told them to tell all their male friends too.

    • NCFM on May 20, 2022 at 4:15 PM

      Maybe they will listen too…

  2. Nikky on January 17, 2018 at 2:27 PM

    The problem with anything is there are always 3 sides yours, the other persons, and then the truth. Also statistics are not reliable at all and a lot is made up and these experts a lot of times have done this because they themselves relate in some way and so of course it will be biased and lean their way. I am a single mother now after my husband abused me for years and I did not go after him or anything, I begged to reconcile be and he did initiate as have many once you stand up to them and aren’t their little punching bag anymore who protects them, or they find a better punching bag or scape goat to have more witnesses in their favor. Look at the abuse statistics of men to women then you will know these findings can’t be true. Also I think whoever breaks the contract since we promise until death for better or worse binding covenant under God should lose everything. Maybe then divorce wouldn’t be so easy and people would think first and be held accountable. God puts the men as leaders and tells us to love no matter what. Women carry the children and we’re connected to them. Mothers are more emotional and it hurts more no matter what any man thinks and it’s not fair to remove any child from a mother. Now you have these groups and most are using these groups and playing the system cause they don’t want to take care of their own as the Bible instructs. Men do abandon all the time and cone and go as they please. Women do too yes but fsr less. Statistically mostly narcissists use custody as a weapon and do not care about the children at all and thanks to men’s rights like these who do not thoroughly screen men and help any man even abusers now we have men like my husband who use them to abuse more. He has literally thrown these groups in my face when I have proof he abused us and left and now is acting like he has a right to the kids o where I am when he changed his number and refused to help us. All we can do is pray guys because only God can help the sad state we are in. We all need rights and the situations are always more complicated than you know. Some judge or some man or doctor cannot go by what they hear or even what appears on paper.

  3. Heather Peterson on July 24, 2012 at 3:28 PM

    I did not read your entire article and do not have time to. I have listened and contributed to this ministry over the years too, but have not been able to recently. I was a single mother in need of help last year and they did not help me in the way that they had two prior times in my life – when I was looking for adoption resources for my husband and myself while undergoing fertility treatment, and then not very long after that when I was floored by that mans decision that he wanted kids, but not with me. I was very offended at the way I was treated by an obviously unqualified staffmember of theirs last year, and when I did get to the resources they gave me on another call, they were all dead ends, and I had several more after that. However, I find what I read of your statements and you “generalizations” of them to be very incorrect from what I knew of that ministry previously, and I think you should be careful whether or not you are communicating the truth. Every situation is different, and I think Dr. Dobson’s group is as aware of that as anyone else. I have yet to see justice for myself and my daughter, and it would have been nice to have the same support services from those types of groups that I’d had previously in this, the biggest challenge I’ve faced so far in my life. I did feel that I’d been abandoned, and I did feel offended and betrayed when some of these people chose to research the situation my daughter and I were in and make judgements or conclusions rather than help us appropriately as the bible instructs them to, and as some had an obligation to – when you are a member of a church or parish. All I am saying is quit slinging mud and giving people a bandwagon to jump on if it has flat tires and won’t move forward. I think you need to check your info again.

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