Fathers No Longer Know Best

March 18, 1999

If you watch network television, I think you would conclude that fathers no longer know best. But TV should make more room for daddy so that millions of kids without a father might have a positive role model.

Those are some of the conclusions of a recent study commissioned by the National Fatherhood Initiative. They found that only 15 prime-time shows have fathers as regular, central characters. Wade Horn believes that this absence of TV fathers is worrisome because an estimated 25 million children are growing up without their biological father in the home. Since these children are more likely to see a father on TV than in their home, it seems important to show a proper role model.

Unfortunately the involved, caring father figures depicted by Andy Griffith and Robert Young have been replaced by uninvolved, bumbling fathers, such as Homer Simpson. One network (NBC) had only one father in all of its programs: Paul Reiser's character on "Mad About You." By contrast, the same network has 12 recurring homosexual characters on various prime-time shows.

The study found that some of the best programs were: Warner Brothers' "Seventh Heaven, CBS's "Promised Land," Warner Brothers' "Smart Guy," and ABC's "Two of a Kind." Some of the worst shows were: Warner Brothers' "Dawson's Creek," Fox's "The 70's Show," and ABC's "Brother's Keeper."

Another interesting fact was that no prime-time shows on Saturday night had a father figure, even though that was when families were likely to watch TV together.

The absence of fathers on TV should concern us. Obviously television is not going to solve the nation's ills, but it would be nice to provide a positive male role model for children growing up in homes without a father. Unfortunately, fathers are hard to find on television today, and when we find them it's hard to believe that father knows best.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.