At the pregnancy center where I volunteer, I recently sat down with a twenty-three-year-old woman who had come in for a pregnancy test. Aside from the biological questions we ask (symptoms, last period, etc.), we also ask something about her relationship with the possible father. In this particular case, our dialogue went something like this:
Me: How old is your boyfriend?
Me: How long have you known him?
Client: Well, I’ve known him since grade school, but we’ve only been together for about six months.
Me: How long have you been sexually active with him?
Client: About the same time.
Me: Are you living together?
Me: If you’re pregnant, will this be your first child?
Me: Does he have other children from past relationships?
Client: Yes, he has three.
Me: Three different women?
Client: No, two.
Me: Does he see the children often? Does he provide for them?
Client: Yes, he’s a good father.
Good father? Good grief! Here’s a twenty-five-year-old boy (I can’t use the word man) who has impregnated two different women with three children, and his latest girlfriend considers him a “good father” because, according to her, he sees them often and provides for them. But I wonder what “often” means? Is it every day? A few days a week? Once a week? Only every other weekend?
And what does “provide” mean? Twenty dollars a week for each child? Fifty? What about Christmas and birthday gifts? How about medical needs? Does he take them to the movies, to restaurants, to sporting events, to museums? Aside from things that cost money, does he provide other vital services? For example, does he read books to them? Does he go to church with them, pray with them, and instruct them in living holy lives? Does he play with them? If his children are old enough to attend school, has he attended any parent/teacher conferences? Does he know the names of their teachers? Has he helped them with their homework? Does he have any idea which subjects are being grasped and which ones are not? Has he done anything to stimulate their minds? Has he held them when they’ve been afraid? Has he comforted them and dried their tears when they’ve been sad?
My anecdotal evidence from fifteen years of experience tells me that he probably has done very little of the above. If he is typical of the males in the neighborhood we serve, there’s a good chance he has not finished high school. If he has, it is very unlikely that he has a college degree. My client said he had a job, but, again, odds are that whatever he earns cannot begin to meet the financial needs of three children and his current girlfriend.
But I think I can say with some certainty that he has taught his children something. He’s taught them that numerous sexual partners are preferred and expected; that women are objects to be used, perhaps impregnated, and then abandoned; that children are, for the most part, unfortunate byproducts of sexual license.
As disturbing as this situation is, this is not the first time one of our clients has described a boyfriend as being a “good father,” even though he has had one or more children with numerous women. In fact, we hear it far too often. But what does this say about the wisdom and self-worth of a woman who cannot distinguish between a responsible man looking for commitment and a despicable womanizer? At the very least, it says that she is another victim of a culture that is hellbent on self-destruction.
Oh, in case you’re wondering. My client is pregnant. The little boy she is living with will be a daddy for the fourth time. God help his children.