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THE NEXT LOS ANGELES / TURNING IDEAS INTO ACTION : Values : How do you teach your child values when it's on the list with 'find another job,' 'get some sleep' and 'do the laundry?' : Solutions : Keeping Dad at Home

July 17, 1994|Wade F. Horn

FROM: Wade F. Horn, 39, director of the new National Fatherhood Initiative, based in Lancaster, Pa.

Horn believes that most social problems--crime, drugs, violence, welfare dependency, teen-age pregnancy, educational failure--are linked to the absence of fathers. He believes that the best way to increase support for parents and achieve cultural change is to change attitudes.

Horn wants men to understand that their place is in the home, both physically and emotionally. He is working on a media campaign and producing public service announcements and a catalogue of educational materials to underscore two points: Fathers provide something unique and irreplaceable, and men are much more likely to be responsible fathers in the context of legal and committed marriages.

Horn says employers need to support fathers by giving them time off to be involved at school or take care of ill children.

Horn's initiative parallels government experiments in several cities, including Los Angeles, to reduce welfare costs by identifying fathers of newborns in the hospital and encouraging them to take more active roles in the lives of their children.

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REALITY CHECK:

Horn's ideas are in short supply in many families and may be difficult to implement on a large scale. Some feminists contend that encouraging men to return to the home will only make conditions worse for women and children.

With a first-year budget of $400,000 provided by private foundations, Horn has enough money to fund a national summit on fatherhood planned in Dallas in the fall and to put out a catalogue of materials on fatherhood.

The initiative has hired a community organizer to build a coalition of local community groups, starting this summer in Los Angeles.

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"If a man chooses to father children, to me it means three things. He needs to spend time with his children. Not quality time. Quantity time. He needs to be committed to his children and committed to his children's mother. And he needs to feel responsible for the child's well-being and socialization. That's what being a real man is to me."

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