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Absent, Part 3 – Children Having Children

April 23, 2017
Controversial billboard campaign to reduce teen pregnancies (Image Courtesy of Chicago Daily Mail 5/16/13)

Controversial billboard campaign to reduce teen pregnancies (Photo courtesy of Daily Mail 5/15/13; Content copyright Human Resources Administration/Flickr)

  • “Black Man Fathers 34 Children With 17 Different Women”
  • “Man who fathered THIRTY kids with 11 different women says he needs a break from child support”
  • “Man who fathered 23 children with 14 women sent to prison after missing more than $500,000 in child support payments”

Tragically, these headlines are not fictional [1][2][3].  The problem of absent fathers is caused not only by the sexual mores now prevalent and the vanishing nuclear family, but by children having children.

Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart” (Col. 3: 21).


The availability of contraception increased the number of teenage girls having sex, and pushed back the age at which girls became sexually active.

Lack of information about sex and birth control became less an issue, as high schools worked the subjects into their curriculum.  Unfortunately, that did not address the real obstacle.

Condoms are readily available for purchase.  But girls can be dissuaded from insisting they be used.  The next girl will not be so difficult, they are told by their partners.  In a world where sexting is a casual pastime, that argument carries some weight.

Needless to say, inner city high schools now come equipped with nurseries, while not books.


If nothing else, the AIDS epidemic should have frightened men into using condoms.  Instead, in the inner city they began having sex with girls as young as 9 or 10 years of age.  Since these girls were virgins (unlikely to be infected by HIV), the dilemma was neatly, if callously, resolved.

The well-being of the young girls in question did not enter the picture.  Their desire to be loved actually set the trap into which they fell.

Statutory Rape

Impoverished, overlooked, and neglected, these girls suddenly basked in the attention of men anywhere from 5 to 20 years their senior.  Willing victims of statutory rape join their numbers everyday.

Unprotected sex is the passport to gifts and status.  Pregnancy is an achievement.  A baby will provide unconditional love.  So these children think, assuming they think at all.

Their naïve hopes are soon enough dashed.  Rarely does the “honeymoon” period last beyond the pregnancy.  Babies cry.  They have to be fed, have to be changed.  And diapers cost money.  So do cribs, strollers, car seats, safety gates, and the rest.

Abortion is often used as a belated form of birth control, when romance sours.  Grandmothers (when they are available) can wind up raising these babies [4].

Serial Exclusivity

Meanwhile, “fathers” who may be 15 y.o., themselves, move on to the next girl.  She has to promise to be exclusive, at least while he remains interested – the inner city version of faithful.  That he might be faithful does not even cross his mind.

The babies that result may never know all their siblings.  The girls left behind retain the honorific of “baby mama”.

Baby Daddy

And the baby daddies?  A surprising 2015 study found that disadvantaged fathers who do not pay child support may still contribute as much as $60 per month to a child’s upkeep via food, clothing, baby supplies, and school expenses [5].

Men prefer buying tangible things for their children.  Such provision strengthens the bond between father and child.

According to sociologist Kathryn Edin, who has done extensive research on deadbeat dads:  “We need to respect what these guys are doing, linking love and provision in a way that’s meaningful to the child [6].”

A Legacy of Slavery?  Not Likely

The impact of slavery on the black family has been hotly disputed over the years.

Some have argued that slavery gave rise to a matriarchal family structure, with feckless males on the periphery.  This view has been challenged, both as racist and unfounded [7][8].

After the Civil War, the legal right to marry was among the rights granted to (and cherished by) former slaves [9].  A variety of laws were passed during Reconstruction legitimizing slave marriages, and the children born to enslaved parents.

Unknown numbers of newly freed slaves sought to locate the family members sold away from them during decades of bondage.  Some trekked the backroads, in their effort to do this.  Others ran newspaper “Information Wanted” ads.

A trove of such ads has recently been discovered in the archives of Philadelphia’s historic Bethel AME Church, testament to the strength of family bonds, despite the ravages of slavery [10].

When these efforts failed, freed slaves established kinship bonds where no blood relationships existed.  Children were passed from household to household of an extended family, as economic pressures dictated.


Self-centered as the men fathering children without means of support may seem, these men desperately want to leave evidence of their existence.

They want to be more than a stain on the sidewalk after a shooting, but see no other way of making their mark.  No other way of giving purpose to their lives.

That desire is as much the force driving them as self-indulgence.

[1]  Downtrend, “Black Man Fathers 34 Children With 17 Different Women” by Brian Anderson, 9/6/14,

[2]  Daily Mail, “Man who fathered THIRTY kids with 11 different women says he needs a break from child support”, 5/18/12,–child-support.html.

[3]  Michigan News (MLive), “Man who fathered 23 children with 14 women sent to prison after missing more than $500,000 in child support payments” by Barton Deiters, 9/24/10,

[4]  National Center for Biotechnology Information, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, “ ‘Children’ Having Children” by Stefanie Mollborn,

[5]  Wiley Online LibraryJournal of  Marriage and Family, “How Much In-Kind Support Do Low-Income Nonresident Fathers Provide?  A Mixed Method Analysis” by Jennifer Kane, Timothy Nelson, and Kathryn Edin, 2/28/15,

[6]  Time, “How Deadbeat are Deadbeat Dads, Really?” by Belinda Luscombe, 6/15/15,

[7]   New York Times, “The Black Family in Slavery And Freedom, 1750‐1925; Were black families split and demoralized by slavery? No, says a new and crucial study” by Richard Sennett, 10/17/76,

[8]  Kansas University ScholarWorks, Mid-American Review of Sociology, Vol. VIII, No. 2: 23-41, “The Myth of the Black Matriarchy Under Slavery” by Mike Meacham (1983),;jsessionid=6FCCA302BEF039077B310DDEA0B00A7A?sequence=1.

[9]   Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities, “Becoming a Citizen:  Reconstruction Era Regulation of African American Marriages” by Katherine Franke (Summer 1999).

[10]  CBS News, “ ‘Information Wanted’:  Freed slaves’ heartbreaking ads tell personal stories of slavery” by Vladimir Duthiers, 4/18/17,

This series will conclude next week with Absent, Part 4 – “Gangsta” Culture

READERS CAN FIND MY VIEWS ON ABUSE AND ABUSE-RELATED ISSUES AT ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse  http://www.avoicereclaimed

  1. Very interesting views Anna, however I am concerned that the topic starts out with general statements then shifts to black families, especially in the inner-city. Will you be writing about white men, or other races? I’m wondering what the differences. I hope I don’t offend you but it seems you point out a number of times only one race.

    • Though the rate of teen pregnancy has decreased over the past 20 years, black and Hispanic girls are still more than twice as likely to become pregnant as whites. I should have clarified that. These are, also, the girls with whom I had most contact while working in the inner city.

      You can find more information on teen pregnancy at Pew Charitable Trusts, “Racial and Ethnic Disparities Persist in Teen Pregnancy Rates” by Teresa Wiltz, 3/3/15,

      The complex problem of absent fathers is not limited to a single race or ethnicity. Nor is it for whites — Christian or otherwise — to “fix” black families. I have attempted in this series to explore possible causes of the problem. But not all causes apply equally to all races or ethnicities.

      If I have missed the mark, then I am truly sorry.



      • Anytime someone attempts to address this issue it is a positive. If you had said in your post what you have said here, it would come through much differently. I apologize if I have offended you.

        Being married to an African American I often live in both worlds, and see both sides of a discussion.
        An example would be the Black Lives Matter movement. This was a firestorm for many people. Of course all lives matter, but too often African Americans are frequently not treated right, and many whites do not care.

        Again I apologize if I have offended you in any way.

      • You certainly don’t need to apologize, Nicodemas. I have an African American foster daughter. Actually, we met in a mentorship program, 15 years ago. We’ve been through countless trials together. She’s made these issues highly personal for me, too.

        Most suburbanites have no idea the conditions children face in the inner city, or the forces to which they are subjected. It is a daily tragedy.

      • Thank you Anna for your strong sense of compassion. I think this makes your blog stand out. It is a tragedy what people go through. This is one important concept of that much of the church is sadly missing -compassion. It is also very important to people that are not part of the church, to see compassion. It is why Pope Francis is one of my favorite leaders. I think super-conservatives have very little to say to the world because they lack the love we all need. Anyway, just some thoughts. Thanks again, and I really appreciate your blog.

      • You are very kind, Nicodemas. I am sorry if this post caused you any distress. I really appreciate your blog Ancient Skies, as well. It is like a breath of fresh air.

      • Thanks for your kind words

  2. You did not miss the mark Anna, facts are facts,truth is truth. You did a thorough job of detailing them in your post. We don’t have to like them, and yes they make us uncomfortable at times, but let’s not fall into the trap of creating our own facts for the sake of those who insist upon equality of misery. There is more than enough of that in the world today.

    The only way we will ever conquer problems of the magnitude you described is to address the facts head on. Anything less serves only to perpetuate the problem(s). After all, facts are color blind, as is truth, even in this day of political correctness.

    • Thank you, as always, for your stalwart support, Ron. It is a great comfort to me. These are sensitive topics. While I have opinions on them, I am aware others may differ. The key thing, from my perspective, is that the multi-faceted problem of absent fathers be addressed. Thank you again, my friend.

  3. Reblogged this on Dr. Lloyd Stebbins and commented:
    Anna Waldherr demonstrates inescapably that there is no substitute for the traditional God-created monogamous family headed by ’til-death-do-us-part parents.

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