I am writing in response to David Blankenhorn's plea (Commentary, Dec. 19) for "responsible fathers" instead of orphanages or prisons. I agree that a healthy family structure may depend on "recovering the fatherhood idea." However, while the term fatherhood, along with motherhood, conjures up images of traditional roles, I believe that "recovering fatherhood" does not go far enough in defining needs related to 20th-Century reality.
Consider the linguistic similarity, but the differing connotation of the words fathering and mothering: to father suggests the mere act of siring a child, whereas to mother is laden with images of care and nurturance. The time has come when societal support must enable fathers not only to assume financial responsibility for the children they sire, but to become comfortable giving themselves to their offspring. When this happens, to father a child will have a new, more potent meaning, and fatherhood will have acquired the power to change individual lives as well as communities.