Elephant in the Room

In the Absent movie, which will soon be touring Australia, 13-29 June 2013, John Eldredge, author of ‘Wild at Heart’ says,

“If you take snapshots of western culture right now the prognosis is not good”. David Blankenhorn has stated in ‘Fatherless America’ written in 1996, “Fatherlessness is the most harmful demographic trend of this generation”.

Dave Kopel, in his article called ‘Fatherlessness: The Root Cause’ says:

As Pat Moynihan wrote in 1965: “From the wild Irish slums of the nineteenth-century Eastern seaboard to the riot-torn suburbs of Los Angeles, there is one unmistakable lesson in American history: A community that allows a large number of young men to grow up in broken families, dominated by women, never acquiring a stable relationship to male authority, never acquiring any rational expectations about the future — that community asks for and gets chaos… [In such a society] crime, violence, unrest, unrestrained lashing out the whole social structure — these are not only to be expected, they are virtually inevitable.”

A Detroit study found that about 70 percent of juvenile homicide perpetrators did not live with both parents. Another study found that of girls committed to the California Youth Authority (for serious delinquents), 93 percent came from non-intact homes. Nationally, seventy percent of youths incarcerated in state reform institutions come from single-parent or no-parent homes. A survey of juvenile delinquents in state custody in Wisconsin found that fewer than 1/6 came from intact families; over two-fifths were illegitimate.

Fatherlessness and the destruction of marriage through no fault divorce and attempted marriage redefinition are two sides of the same coin. In all cases, children’s rights to their biological mother and father are trashed. The anti-male bids in both our courts and public policy formation invariably result in ever increasing levels of fatherlessness. Our children pay the price. What are we to do? Do we expose the problem or do we ignore it like the proverbial elephant in the room and hope it goes away.

This week I received an email from a concerned community leader in regards to our Absent ‘Bring Back Fatherhood’ Tour. Below I share his letter and my response. Names have been changed to preserve anonymity. Yes we have to be sensitive, but if we don’t talk about it we will never solve the problem.

Re: Absent Movie Tour
13 – 29 June 2013

Dear Warwick,

I am a leader in a church near one of the venues where the movie Absent will be screened in Australia between 13-29 June 2013 and I want to encourage the members of our congregation to go to the screening of “Absent”.

Sounds like a great thing and I am personally convinced of the broad thesis of the movie as it is presented in the advertising literature.

Only question I had was that we would potentially have a couple of single mums, who are struggling to bring up their kids with fairly absent fathers.

I have not seen the movie yet and don’t know what else might be going on around the screening seeing as how the producer/director Justin Hunt will be appearing live. I was wondering if there would be any caveats relative to single mums so that they don’t feel even more crushed by the “impossibility” of their task given the absence of fathers in their homes.

I know that while the consequences of an absent father are real, I am also aware that each time some single mums hear something like this it is like another nail has been hammered into their coffin – “my kids are doomed.”

Please don’t see this as negative, I just wanted to find out if this would be covered off in the presentation on the night for otherwise I will just prepare the single mums in advance.

Warm regards,

Bill Andrews

Reply to Bill Andrews
Dads4Kids Subscriber

Dear Bill,

Thank you for your gracious and thoughtful email (as my wife said). Running the Dads4Kids Fatherhood Foundation we come up against this sort of thing all the time. I think the promotion of the movie is self-selecting so this sort of thing tends to look after itself. My wife and I work a lot with single mums who are in 90% of cases intuitively aware of this problem anyway. They know they can’t be a good dad to their kids.

Women in general understand relationships better than most men.

Do you stop declaring marriage because there is divorce? Do you stop declaring fatherhood because there is fatherlessness? I think the answer is ‘no’. We live in a fallen world filled with broken hearted people. Most people don’t even know why their hearts are broken.

The Absent ‘Bring Back Fatherhood’ Tour of Australia from 13-29 June 2013 is an opportunity for people to begin the healing journey by realizing where the pain comes from. My own father wound inspires me in this journey. We are all wounded healers of sorts. Our mess becomes our ministry. Fatherlessness doesn’t give caveats. I can only encourage you to keep on keeping on. Justin Hunt, director of Absent, said he gets about 50% male and 50% female to all his screenings. In my experience women get this sort of stuff more than men.

I have copied in Justin Hunt, director of Absent from the USA, and Darren Lewis from Fathering Adventures who both carry the scars from their father wounds lightly. Perhaps they are wiser than me in this matter.


Warwick Marsh



Let’s begin the discussion on the effects of fatherlessness in our society and at least get the discussion into the public consciousness. Feel free to ‘Like’ our Facebook Absent Tour site and also post this 60 second Australian Absent Tour promo on your respective Facebook pages. We have to acknowledge the elephant in the room. As John Eldredge says, “We’ve gotta get fatherhood back”.

Yours for turning the tide of fatherlessness

Warwick Marsh

By |2021-05-05T17:17:51+10:00May 26th, 2013|Dads|2 Comments

About the Author:

Warwick Marsh has been married to Alison Marsh since 1975; they have five children and nine grandchildren, and he and his wife live in Wollongong in NSW, Australia. He is a family and faith advocate, social reformer, musician, TV producer, writer and public speaker.

Warwick is a leader in the Men’s and Family Movement, and he is well-known in Australia for his advocacy for children, marriage, manhood, family, fatherhood and faith. Warwick is passionate to encourage men to be great fathers and to know the greatest Father of all. The Father in Whom “there is no shadow of turning.”


  1. Bart Wassink June 2, 2013 at 5:04 pm - Reply

    Hi, I am subscribed to the Dads4Kids newsletter and saw the ABSENT tour article and announcement. What struck me is the in WA only Perth is mentioned. However due to the mining industry fatherlesness is huge.
    Can it be considered to organise screenings in Albany, Geraldton, Port Hedland, Newman, Tom Price and Karratha as well? Perhaps by actively engaging local churches from your end, rather then leaving it by chance that one of these places takes up the invite to organize something by own initiative?
    The irony is, is that I am in Liberia at the moment for work, hoping to be back 19 June, so I struggle with the Absentee Father issue a lot. And a bit miffed that I probably miss a screening.

    God Bless, I hope this movie will turn a tide!
    Kind regards

  2. Warwick Marsh July 25, 2013 at 11:10 am - Reply

    Dear Bart
    Ring or email Koorong Books in Sydney. They can organise a license to screen the movie for your local church or community club.

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