Warren Thomas Farrell is 77. He is an American educator, activist, and author of seven books on men's and women's issues.
All of his books are related to men's and women's studies, including his March 2018 publication “The Boy Crisis”. Farrell initially came to prominence in the 1970s as a supporter of second-wave feminism; he served on the New York City Board of the National Organization for Women (NOW).
Although today he is generally considered "the father of the men's movement" he advocates for neither a men’s nor a women’s movement but a gender liberation movement. Warren chairs the Coalition to Create a White House Council on Boys and Men amongst other things to influence change.
In the session, Warren opens up about his own family setup and his experiences and challenges as a step-dad of 2 girls. His one daughter was adopted by his wife before they got together and the other daughter is a biological child from his wife and her previous partner.
Warren also shares amazing insights and learnings from a few decades of research. We talk about adoption, mom-style parenting, and dad-style parenting and the effects, father involvement - or the lack thereof - and the consequences. For instance: Warren told me the single biggest predictor of suicide for boys is a lack of father involvement.
Another topic he elaborates on is how much can be gained simply by making sure dad and mom are both aware and honour the contribution dads make by means of their intuitive actions.
The most powerful takeaways for me as a dad were:
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WF: Yeah. The best advice I could give myself as a dad is doing family dinner nights and structuring them so that everybody at the table has a chance to listen, to talk without being interrupted and to listen fully before they do their own speaking. So that, that, so that everybody at the table has a chance to know that their feelings will be heard, and their fears will be heard.
And that they will not be lectured to. Although the other people at the table will give their perspective once they're completely heard.
PH: Awesome. Thank you, sir. Thank you. Okay, Warren. So, what I'm going to take this off. I'm going to say, Hey, actually, we can just start working. I'm so happy that we are finally sitting together and [00:08:00] taking your time.
Thank you so much. I read your book, the boy crisis, and it really impacted me for me. It was a. It was a, I should say very emotional, very, I learned a lot. I knew I had to speak to you. I already spoke to
[00:08:19] very interesting, very interesting to have you on the show. Can you give listeners a quick intro? You're safe, you're safe. And then really, we would love to hear laughter from Warren, the dad from Warren, the dad.
[00:08:32] WF: [00:08:32] Yeah, I guess I started in the male female area back when I was doing my doctorate at New York university and the women's move in surfaced and I persuaded by dissertation committee to let me do my dissertation on the politics of the women's movement.
[00:08:49] And they said, Oh, the women's move is just going to be a fad. And my response was no, actually I don't think it will be because. We have evolved past a point where survival is [00:09:00] no longer the dominant forest and people now can begin to have freedom. And the first people who will have that freedom will be women.
[00:09:07] And they say, what do you mean? The first people they'll have the freedom will be women. Men, men already have that freedom. I said, actually, actually they don't. Oh, they have the freedom to be to earn money that somebody else spends while they die sooner. And that is a type of freedom, but it's not a choice of say being a full-time dad or being a full-time worker, they're expected to be a full-time worker at one sort or the other.
[00:09:29] And they said, well interesting, but you know, I think it's still a fad and we disagreed, but I was also the assistant to the president of NYU. And so, I had a little bit of weight in these issues. And so, they let me do my dissertation on this issue and that got me deeply into the women's movement.
[00:09:47] And then during the, and so I was, I suppose, probably the, the world's leading male spokesperson for feminism for a number of years. And then things began to them, the seventies, the number of divorces [00:10:00] that were in the 1970s led me to do some research on the impact of divorces. And I started to see that the children that didn't have a lot of father involvement after divorces were actually doing much, much worse than the children that had a lot of father involvement after divorces.
[00:10:15] So I brought this up with the national organization for women in New York city, which is where I was on the board of. Now at that time. And they said, well, you know we want women to have the option to be able to, they know, what's, you know, they've been involved with the children. They know what's right.
[00:10:30] If the father, you know, if the father should be involved, they'll keep the father involved. If the father shouldn't be involved and they want to go on and find a new man and move to a new area, they should be free to do that and leave the first mistake they made in their life behind. And I said, well, that's very good if you put the emphasis on women's freedom, but yeah.
[00:10:49] And I'm a hundred percent in favor of women having the free choice to be able to have children or not have children, but once a woman makes a free choice to have children, she makes her [00:11:00] free choice to put the children's needs above her needs. And that's the free choice she's made.
[00:11:07] And they looked at me like, well, are you saying that we should, you know that fathers should have as many rights to, you know, the children as mothers do. And I said it looks like the research is telling us that that would be the best for the children. And it was like, I was, you know, the hero that was being looked at as well.
[00:11:25] Why don't you do more research with the research? And see if that turns out to be true after a number of years of having larger numbers of children or not. And I knew that, you know, the tone of the voice, et cetera, made it really clear to me that if my research continued to find that children need both parents after divorce that I was no longer going to be the darling of the feminist movement.
[00:11:46] And that is what I did find. And but yeah, then the question was, do I keep my mouth shut or do I speak up? And I decided that. I would speak up even though the price of speaking up was probably somewhere between 20 and $30 million from the best I can. [00:12:00] I can guess I went from doing about 50 speaking engagements a year that were largely sponsored by the feminist community down to zero speaking engagements at universities per year.
[00:12:12] Wow, that was step one. And then let's see the next you know, the next step is after many years, I met the woman who has now been twenty-five years ago. I met the woman who was to become my wife and she had two children. And they were six and seven. And we got involved with each other.
[00:12:30] And so I, you know, played a very significant role in helping to raise the children. And that role though was in many respects. I could never get beyond being an advisor that is. You know, at night we would speak very extensively about what was going on with the children during the day. And, you know, but ultimately, she would make more protective oriented decisions that, you know, she would want the children to be taken to school, which was only two blocks away.
[00:12:59] And you know, [00:13:00] is very easy to get to when they are six and seven, I would want the children to be able to walk by themselves. And, you know, I said, well, we can stand outside the door and we can see from the door to the school. But she was afraid that something would happen between the door and the school.
[00:13:15] And I would rough house with the kids and she would say, well, we know we really need to, you know, take that rough housing outside where the kids don't have a possibility of hitting their head. On the, you know, on a piece of furniture or something else along those lines, doing it inside. And so, or the children would have difficulties with the teacher.
[00:13:34] And I would say that, you know, that, you know, having difficulties with people in life is a part of life. And let's talk with the kids about the difficulties they're having and not try to change the teacher. And so, there was always this tension between my wife's, the woman who would become my wife's desire to protect the children and my desire to sort of like letting the children make judgments by themselves to a certain degree.
[00:13:59] And [00:14:00] obviously after a point they need protection. And, but the, but I was more in the direction of having a different type of orientation of, of, of giving the children freer reign. And so, but at that time, I didn't know, you know, what, you know, what the research told us about that. And so about 14 years ago, I started the research for the boy crisis book and was really quite astonished to see that things like rough housing.
[00:14:25] We’re at the rough housing when children rough house with their parents which they do almost exclusively with their male parents. But they could do with their female parents. So, none of this is none of this that I'll be saying are things that a mom can't do. It's just that these are things that.
[00:14:43] Dads are more prone to doing. So, dads are more prone to rough housing, and I was astonished to see that rough housing with children leads to the children being more empathetic. Like I never would have connected empathy with rough housing. And I didn't, you know, so I started [00:15:00] to investigate, well, why does that, why does that outcome come from something like rough housing?
[00:15:04] And then I started to see that the rough housing would also lead to children, being able to make distinctions between. I'm being assertive versus aggressive. And it also, usually the fathers that rough house knew how to set boundaries and that that boundary enforcement forced the children to make a distinction between to postpone gratification.
[00:15:25] That is that they couldn't stick their elbow in their sister is a face. In order to win in the rough housing. And so therefore and if they did do that the father would say usually you can't do that. And if you do that anymore there'll be no more rough housing. And so, I started investigating what are the dynamics that are leading to the outcomes of empathy, the distinctions between assertiveness and aggressiveness and postpone gratification, all coming from just something as simple as rough housing and rough housing.
[00:15:57] And one of about nine different nine male [00:16:00] female differences or what I call differences in dad's style versus mom's style. And that, that led to children having very much more positive outcomes when they had significant amounts of both the dad's style and the male males and the mom's style.
[00:16:14] And so. I started to look in both my me and my own life with the children. And, and so, so for example, with rough housing dads are much more likely, and I would be much more likely to say, you know, if let's say there were three children, rather than the two that we had. You have to throw both three, all three children on the couch and just say, okay, now the game here is, you know, I'm going to get 'em on my hands and knees and I'm going to be a horsey and you jump on me and you see if you can pin me down before I pin you down.
[00:16:44] Okay. I love it. And you know, the kids. The kids all jumped by me; you know. And they try to pin me down, but in the process, of course, and, and the mom is looking on and she's going, Oh God, you know, this is like, I feel, I feel like, you know, the dad is just [00:17:00] one more child. They have to monitor here. Now I got four children, nothing.
[00:17:03] Three. And so, it's sort of like and, but she's saying to herself in the back of her mind, you know, well, I don't want to be controlling and I don't want to, you know, the kids seem to be laughing and having fun, but I just know in my intuitive heart that that sooner related somebody is going to get hurt.
[00:17:19] Somebody's going to cry and she's only about 99% likely to be, right. So sooner or later, you know, sooner or later somebody does stick their elbow into their sister's eyes, let's say. And you know, I, or another dad will say, you know, okay, you know, you can, we can, you could try as hard as you want to win, but you can't do that.
[00:17:41] Sticking of the elbow in your sister's eye. Okay, dad. Okay, dad. We got it. We got it. And we go back to the rough housing again, and then sooner or later we're experiencing what psychologists call emotional intelligence under fire and the emotional intelligence under fire means that the, that the children are now trying to be good, [00:18:00] like their dad said, but you know, the.
[00:18:02] In the excitement, they can't remember the excitement of winning overcomes the, the dis the discipline of just feeling of the, the discipline of having to stop doing what comes naturally. And so, this, this, as this is happening, the father goes, okay. You know, you, you, you just tuck your elbow in your sister's eye again.
[00:18:24] So that's the end of the recognizing, Oh dad. Oh dad, you know, we will do it again. That's fine. But then the dad, you know, or I would say Nope, I'm sorry. We'll do rough housing tomorrow night again. But you know, not tonight. And so, mom is again, looking on like what you just, you know, the children are crying, and you're now say, you know somebody has gotten hurt you.
[00:18:47] Haven't learned your lesson. You're now scheduling rough housing for tomorrow night again, but dads don't know enough to explain that tomorrow night is when. W is when it really works because the next night, when [00:19:00] he, when the dad says you can't do that sticking of the elbow and your sister's face, the children are know that if they do, they're going to lose what they really want the rough housing, because last night when they did, they lost.
[00:19:13] And so. That's when they begin to learn to think of someone else besides themselves, their sister's needs, let's say or they begin, and they begin to learn to make distinctions between being assertive versus aggressive and the children that learn distinctions between being assertive versus aggressive and learn to think of other people.
[00:19:33] Those children have more friends and therefore they have better social skills. And therefore, they're less likely to be depressed and less likely to withdraw into video games or porn or other forms of distraction and withdrawal. And they have the single biggest predictor of success, which is postpone gratification.
[00:19:52] And so and because they've learned that they can't. That they can't have exactly what they want, any method of [00:20:00] pushing their sister or brother out of the way in order to win. They have to postpone the gratification of, of, of, of pushing their sister or brother out of the way in order to get what they want to have, which is the rough housing and postpone gratification.
[00:20:15] As I said, is the single biggest one. Predictor of success or failure. The children that don't have that are unable to complete their homework, or if they have a gift say in basketball, they don't have the discipline to do the drills without being distracted by a text or whatever. And in boy, girl time, they don't have the discipline to know how to do social skills with girls that are much more slow, much slower than video game victories.
[00:20:39] And so they and so the lack of postpone gratification, both socially. And academically sports wise, achievement wise again is so important, but dad's, I don't know a single dad, including myself at that point in time when the girls were five and six that I didn't know, a single dad that, you know, that would make those connections so that moms [00:21:00] couldn't hear them and moms can hear what dads don't say.
[00:21:04] And so it's so what I. Came to learn in my relationship with the children and my wife is you know, first of all, that the role of stepdad was very challenging. Because you know, if I, if I didn't empathize with the girls and give them what they wanted in the back of mom's mind would be well, yeah.
[00:21:21] You know, he's not the biological dad. He really doesn't love them as much as I do. Therefore, he's not going to be as protective and so on. And so that's a, especially with girls and the man being the, the father that is I found to be one of the most challenging integrations parenting possible.
[00:21:37] PH: [00:21:37] Were you able to develop strategies for that being the step
[00:21:43] to contact it, to contact that. Did you talk about it much? Or did you, did you realize that your time to develop strategies for that?
[00:21:53] WF: [00:21:53] Yes and no. Meaning that we definitely developed strategies and we did have wonderful family dinner nights and a great [00:22:00] talks and, and Liz, my wife was much more comfortable with.
[00:22:04] We have, we had one daughter who was an adopted daughter. Liz had adopted the daughter in a former marriage and right after she adopted the daughter, she found out she was pregnant. So, was it similar to what you experienced? Yes, exactly. And so, And the adopted daughter was absolutely brilliant. And so, we were able to have these wonderful family dinner conversations, but the adopted daughter was also extremely, you know, radical in her perspectives.
[00:22:32] And so it was a wonderful scenario for being able to make sure that the. The adopted daughter who was extremely articulate didn't dominate the conversations, but yet she didn't have her perspectives condemned just because they were outside of the mainstream. And so, and whereas the biological daughter of my wife was much more conservative and traditional, my wife, Israeli was fairly conservative and traditional and had a background and instincts.
[00:22:58] And so, and I'm more sort [00:23:00] of I was, I would put myself probably more in the liberal and. I would think, I think about things without too much of a boundary on them. And so, it was those experiences where the children didn't happen, a chance of being rejected and whereas protecting the children from I was protecting the scene so that everybody felt heard and understood those.
[00:23:22] Those were those family dinner nights that worked really, really well.
[00:23:25]PH: [00:23:25] I left that experience shape because you really didn't know this from the research we hadn't spoken before. You are really one of the patchworks for me today because the father, the father adopted father daughter. Was obviously not part of family at the time you took over the role of you know, your wife adopted before you went to the doctor, is that
[00:23:55] WF: [00:23:55] correct? Yes, absolutely.
[00:23:57] PH: [00:23:57] And that is super
[00:23:58] WF: [00:23:58] interesting. Did the daughter, [00:24:00] when she, right after she was born the day after she was born. And so, she was already six years old or seven years old when I, when I met the children.
[00:24:08] PH: [00:24:08] Wow. Yeah. And did you guys have an open adoption? Does your daughter know? Does your adoptive daughter? No. My parents don't
[00:24:23] WF: [00:24:23] mind though. Yes. She, my wife or at that time, my wife to be, told the Bible, the adopted daughter that she was adopted when she was a few years old and it didn't have a great effect on her, but you know, it wouldn't have had a great effect on her at any time.
[00:24:41] She heard that the, you know, the, the, the challenge of, for adopted children, which I now know a lot more about than I did then is really extraordinary. I think the best way to understand it was we had somebody from New Zealand came over, who was a rancher after I did a book tour in New Zealand and the and we had dinner together and the adopted daughter [00:25:00] came with us her name's Erin and the rancher was I said to the, to the rancher, you know, tell me about a day on the ranch that you, you know, give us, give us a picture of that, doing that mostly for my adopted daughter's benefit.
[00:25:13] And he said you know, well the, I think one of the things that happened recently that was really touching was we had about 12 ducklings. Those born in the mom and dad, ducklings were killed. And I was really worried about it. But to my amazement at the female chicken in the barn took over the parenting of the 12 children ducklings.
[00:25:37] And so one day the duckling sort of. Wobbles are old enough to wobble out of the barn and down this big Hill that we have to, to the Lake. And when the ducklings get to the Lake, the ducklings all just jump into the Lake and start swimming. And the, and the mom chicken goes, wow, mine have just absolutely been going Bismarck at the fact that the, you know, the duck things from her perspective are going to drown [00:26:00] in the pool.
[00:26:01] And, and our adopted daughter interrupts us and says, that's what I feel like every day. I feel like. Duckling being raised by a chicken, sort of like, and I, I think that that, you know, that is the power of adoption is no matter how wonderful, loving, and caring the adoptive parents are. There's something that the child senses about itself that is different from those adoptive parents and whether the child knows it's adopted or not there's a different type of trauma.
[00:26:36] PH: [00:26:36] Yeah. So, we've been trying to tell our quick track kids from the beginning, obviously adults obviously they are black and white, but since they were like a year, I don't know, we've been starting to tell them we've been starting similar stories. I don't know.
[00:27:02] [00:27:00] Concept of adoption. Now I speak to them about it on how beautiful her eyes are. Beautiful father is so funny and cheeky, like they are trying to be very, very open, very, very open.
[00:27:23] Or we try to do that.
[00:27:29] Are often unsure or not often, you know, how they can address the topic or is it something that you can talk about or not or shouldn't you. And so, I just really wanted to be uncomfortable because of the fact of them being adopted as one way of families coming together, being formed together.
[00:27:48] WF: [00:27:48] Yes. Absolutely. And there has to be so much empathy for the adopted child and there there's such a need inside of us to sort of have a sense of who we are at the [00:28:00] core.
[00:28:00] And even when we have bylaw you know, parents that are very loving to not be connected to that seems to be more traumatizing than. Then would rationally be able to be understood and, you know, there are some people that have, you know, written about this better than I have. And about saying that there's probably something that we will eventually find instead of an epigenetic content concept where the child is really in, in the womb is picking up the hormones and the vibrations and the energy of the biological mother.
[00:28:33] And when. The child is born and then given to a different biological mother or father that, that, you know, that that is a real traumatic experience and feel. There's a feeling of abandonment, even if the child is unconscious of it. And so, you know, it's certainly been a very powerful experience, especially as our daughter has grown up and in many ways is a lot more like the biological mother than the biological than the adoptive than my wife.
[00:28:59] [00:29:00] And, and yet, Often, and yet there's the biological mom of hers who has had other children that haven't done nearly as well as our daughter has. And she feels guilty. Our daughter feels guilty about the fact that, you know, that she got adopted to, you know, good parents. Whereas the other children did not and why her and so it's, you know, it's just, the complexities are, are just enormous.
[00:29:26] PH: [00:29:26] I was going to say how amazing the staff that we come up with as humans, and then we make our lives difficult. Talk a bit about in a practical sense dad's involvement. I know in your book; you say you talked about it earlier. Now we've talked about it and do more dads that are involved or dads a better. In your book [00:30:00] for sands daughters is just the same.
[00:30:03] Just a lot of dads do work full-time and then 24 hours a day. Are there strategies on how you cut your strategies on how you, what you deem? What being involved, being the dads who are strapped for time strapped for time, what can they do practically,
[00:30:21]WF: [00:30:21] Moms and dads need to sort of address the dynamic between them and the F.
[00:30:26] So. If a father is sensing that the way that he will get his love and approval and respect from his wife is the way is by going out and making good money and letting mom be the primary you know, caretaker or the full-time caretaker and make the decisions most dads will do what they feel will make their wife happy.
[00:30:47] There’s a sort of unconsciousness. Feeling that has now been proven to be true that by John Gottman that, you know, happy wife, happy life and, you know, as sort of a phrase, which is actually quite accurate in [00:31:00] reality the, the, the, and so the mother and father really have to sort of talk about can I value you as a dad, as opposed to just as a breadwinner and valuing dad as a dad.
[00:31:13] It means two things. Dads have to study up on what their contributions are. I was mentioning, you know, the, the, the triple contribution of the, of the rough housing, for example. And I don't, before I wrote the boy crisis book, I don't know of a single dad. That that has ever said to, to the mom you know, rough house, it helps the children to develop empathy.
[00:31:35] It helps the children distinguish between being assertive and aggressive and shops. It helps the children have postponed gratification and moms, you know, sort of just think it's a, it's another child that they have to monitor as I've mentioned before. And so, you know, the first responsibility is dad's understanding.
[00:31:50] The nature, how they, what they do intuitively, how much that develops the child's skill sets and many ways. So, for example a child might come [00:32:00] to a dad and say, you know you know, I'm going to climb the tree in the backyard. Okay. And dad will go okay. Yeah. Yes. You can do that, but be careful, sweetie.
[00:32:09] Cause you're, you know, you're pretty young. And then if mom finds out that he said, yes, A mom is more likely to go, excuse me, what are you doing? Child couldn't fall out of the tree or hurt himself or herself, hit his head, hit their head, get a concussion, or even be killed. And you just sort of say, yes, be careful like, you know, that's not going to happen.
[00:32:30] You got to and so the dad and mom then get into an argument, which if they don't understand right. That the tension between what's happening here between the dad and the mom is actually a healthy tension that we'll probably end up if it's a good discussion and up with a compromise that will benefit the child and both, both in terms of having safety and also in terms of having the experience.
[00:32:50] So the, the, the, the, the, a good dialogue might include, you know, well, you know, if you, if you want the child to climb the tree the child's got to not go, you [00:33:00] know you know, Aaron or Alex is not, has got to not go above this level and not these branches look how thin those branches are and you got to be under the tree and by the way, give me your cell phone.
[00:33:11] Okay. And so, and so, and so, you know, don't get distracted and so, okay. The father and the mother ultimately come to a sort of a, an understanding and the father goes out, the child climbs the tree. So now the child is climbing the tree in that limited way, but the child is getting to develop his or her IQ in ways that would not be developed before.
[00:33:34] That is, you know, the psychos of motor functioning of deciding what branches are too risky, what branches and what could break, what can, how do I go from one branch to the other. How do I climb the tree? How do I use my strength in the right way? All of those things develop synopsis that increase the child's intelligence and, and flexibility.
[00:33:57] And, but you know, again, dads don't go, I [00:34:00] really want the child to climb the tree. So, we'll develop psychosocial, motor functioning and increase their IQ and increase their ability to adapt. And yeah. Make quick judgments. And so, it's and so these are the types of what I call checks and balance parenting, where the dad is coming in with his perspective as to why the risk taking would be good.
[00:34:20] Mom is saying protection is also important. And occasionally the moms and dads are exactly the opposite. The mom is more. Okay. With the risk taking the data's more protective, but this is just the general rule. And so, but
[00:34:32] PH: [00:34:32] that would be in the writing room, daughters, having a boyfriend, I suppose, with the mother says it's okay with the father.
[00:34:41] So what you are saying is if I understand you correctly, one thing is obviously the conversation between mom’s and dad’s needs, needs to happen. And can you value
[00:34:56] fathers, which I find really powerful. You find, by the [00:35:00] way, how men, you said. Men can contribute so much. by eating properly exercising, can't get stronger. And this really contributes to the development of the child. And I think often men aren't really aware of those things. I certainly wasn't trying to get pregnant.
[00:35:29] And just that awareness, just knowing that you are actually able to contribute in many different ways. Like you said, if I let her try to climb the tree
[00:35:49] as a father, and that obviously comes back to the marriage and to go through the partnership where we are now more equal. We are parents. And before Eric was, I could feel better about [00:36:00] myself as a dad and the whole family certificate.
[00:36:05] WF: [00:36:05] Absolutely. We have to understand. Oh, first of all, the, the number of things I learned in doing the research for the book are just overwhelming.
[00:36:11] Like I had no idea that, that the, that you can, that dads actually have a whole series, a nest of neurons that are inactive until a child is born. When the child is born. If the father immerses himself in the child's development. And the intimacy with the child, that those, that nest of neurons all becomes activated and connects.
[00:36:37] And the, and the FA the father develops a fatherhood instinct that is quite parallel to, but different from the mother instinct. Whereas the father responds to the child's birth by feeling okay. Now I have to go out. And earn more money in order to be able to, you know, compensate for the lack of money that the mom has now used to be earning versus is earning now and then also for [00:37:00] the additional possible emergencies and expenses of a child.
[00:37:03] And so if the father interprets the child's birth, as a mandate to be a success object, so to speak then he's not going to develop this nest of neurons and what I call the dad brain. But if he immerses himself in that child's development and intimacy, he develops that dad brain and that, and that dad brain is very crucial to that child having a lot of increasing father involvement and father involvement.
[00:37:29] Another example of something I didn't know, before I did the research for the boy crisis was it was about telomere development. Telomeres are the part of your cells that contain all the genetic material that allows you to either say die sooner or live longer without getting cancer or be vulnerable to a heart disease and so on.
[00:37:51] So children by the age of nine who have a significant amount of father involvement already have telomeres that are 14% [00:38:00] longer that is, and the telomeres that are longer. Are the single biggest predictor of a longer life expectancy telomeres that are shorter, obviously the reverse and both boys and girls have an average of 14% longer telomeres when they have father involvement shorter when they don't.
[00:38:17] But. In relation to each other, boys’ telomeres are then again, 40% shorter than girls when they, when they are dead deprived. So, what I saw was that it was both sciences, but also a perfect metaphor for the differences in dad deprivation with daughters and sons. I went through the boy crisis and the boy crisis.
[00:38:41] I was able to outline 50 ways more than 50 ways that children. Or significantly harmed from depression to suicide, et cetera. When they don't have a significant amount of father involvement, but what, what was it that impacted me a lot? Was that even though [00:39:00] lack of father involvement hurt both girls and boys, it hurt boys significantly more than it hurt girls because boys didn't have it.
[00:39:08] Boys did not have their same sex role model. And boys were also not when, when things were bothering boys, we tend to stuff it in, and it comes out in volcano forum after being stuffed in for a long time. And maybe we act out or, you know, drive quickly or, you know you know, try to drive around a curve quickly and challenge somebody else just to get out of the adrenaline and the angst.
[00:39:30] That, that comes when we, when we're feeling depressed.
[00:39:34] PH: [00:39:34] Yeah. Yeah, I can imagine it, but this was my question. Is, are women, women less
[00:39:43] from, from this situation where fathers,
[00:39:47] WF: [00:39:47] they are impacted on 50 different levels, more than 50 different levels as boys are just that the degree and, you know, sort of the telomere example, as we know the one was. You know, on average they're in the [00:40:00] telomeres are impacted about 14%, which means the life expectancy will be about 14% shorter.
[00:40:05] However, boys' telomeres are, yet again, 40% more impacted even shorter than the girls. And so. And that that's, that, you know, that that's sort of a scientific example of something that is really, that is also true. Much more a level of other measurements like the boys and girls are equally likely to commit suicide when they're at the age of nine and they don't do it very often.
[00:40:31] And between the ages of 10 and 14 boys are twice as likely to commit suicide as girls are between the ages of 15 and 19. Boys are four times as likely to commit suicide as girls are. And B between the age of 20 and 24 boys are almost five times as likely to commit suicide as girls are. And so, and the single biggest predictor of suicide is lack of father involvement.
[00:40:56] But we can see that that's especially true for boys.
[00:41:00] [00:41:00] PH: [00:41:00] And is it, I know you talk about it in the book, but just for our listeners, what's the situation around stepfather's Dr. Fathers when there's not the biological father around, can he truly take the role of the father when you talk about father involvement?
[00:41:17] If so, what are the strategies that men can apply?
[00:41:24] WF: [00:41:24] The FA the, the stepfather, it, when I did the research for the boy crisis, I was sort of expecting that, you know, all right. You know, I'm a stepdad. And so there, and I can, I'm really, I think, a good, involved dad and be just as good as the biological father.
[00:41:40] But when the biological father, when I, when I finished the research, I found that. You know, I, I could not prove that, that in fact the opposite was true. The logical father really is more important. Now it doesn't mean that I couldn't add a lot, but when I sent the manuscript of the book to the biological father of the girls that, well, this is the [00:42:00] first book I wrote on this issue called father and child reunion.
[00:42:02] The, the father, the biological father of one of the daughters that wasn't adopted was so impacted by it, that he moved 500 miles back. Into the house of where my future wife was living and spent a couple of years with the, with the girls there, which were very positive developmental years for the girls because he saw that the, the impact that a father could have on them, on the raising of the children and the bud.
[00:42:30] My role is a stepdad I was mentioning before. I always fought to make it be a role that was better than an advisor, but I didn't understand at that time 25 years ago, how important I was and could be. And so, the stepfather. The dynamic between the stepfather and the mother is one where the mother is usually likely to say, to do as what I was saying before, which was, you know, sort of feeling that when the father wants [00:43:00] to take more risks and so on that they.
[00:43:02] That the father, the stepfather not being as naturally protective or wanting the child to have more boundaries or wanting the child to have more discipline. The biological mother often feels that that comes out of a lack of love for the, for the children that the stepfather has.
[00:43:20] And so. The father and mother really have to work on that issue that there is a difference between dad style parenting and mom's style parenting. And it's so important whether the parents are stepparents or, or biological parents that the dad style be integrated. And with equal amounts of power, not just advice, power that you take it when you want it and don't take it.
[00:43:47] But it's really important for the mom and dad to talk through all those different styles and to understand the dad's style versus mom's style and to understand what the dad's style contributes and what the mom's style contributes. You know, [00:44:00] in, in the United States, we have a program called no child left behind, right.
[00:44:04] Well, the program hasn't worked because in the process of having no child left behind, we've been leaving fathers behind more and more. And we're now seeing that those children will be left behind. If one of the parents is left behind the best way of having no child left behind is to have no parent left behind.
[00:44:26] PH: [00:44:26] Yeah. Yeah. If there's no foundation, there's no foundation, whatever sense. I mean, I'm not saying never people can never break up if there's no foundation
[00:44:41] WF: [00:44:41] Absolutely.
[00:44:42] PH: [00:44:42] Can you talk about, sorry, go ahead. Sorry,
[00:44:47] WF: [00:44:47] I'm working with the white house now. Very, very actively. And it's either in the state of the union message or sometime later this year president, Trump's going to be bringing up an executive order. To [00:45:00] get the, to make the boy crisis an issue and not my book per se, but the F the challenges that boys are having in these more than 50, 50 areas that I've mentioned.
[00:45:10] And you know, one of the things that we'll be talking about is, you know, one of the things I'm discussing with the white house is that you know, wall. It's very important that children have an equal amount of father and mother-in-law after divorce. If you, so in, in the boy crisis book, I have this, these four must do’s of divorce.
[00:45:30] So if you are eliciting your divorce from your parents, one of what I found is that there's four things that absolutely must happen if you want your children to have the best way. The best life possible and almost as good an experience as being in an intact family. Number one is that there's an equal amount of time with mother and father that the children have after divorce.
[00:45:50] Number two is that the father and mother live within about 20 minutes’ drive time from each other so that the children don't resent going to the other parent's house because, and having to give [00:46:00] up a soccer game or having to give up a birthday party at their best friend's house. Number three, that the child is not able to detect any bad mouthing from father to mother or from mother to father.
[00:46:12] And number four is that the parents do consistent communication counseling or relationship counseling at least once a month. In non-emergency situations so that they're able to understand each other's best intent with the children and communicate their different styles of parenting and, and, and come to some constructive balance between the two styles of parenting.
[00:46:35] And so that's really you know, so if, if you are. In a divorce situation and you care more about your children than you do about your own rights and freedoms. Those are the things that you can do to increase the odds that your children are going to have a good, productive, happy life despite your being divorced.
[00:46:55] However, all that said, what's even more important [00:47:00] is that there is that, that your children don't have to choose between living in a home where there is a, a divorce. Or a B not a legal divorce, but a psychological divorce or where the children experience seeing you in a, what I would call a minimum-security prison marriage.
[00:47:19] And a lot of parents are living in minimum security, prison marriages. And so, and so the solution to that is I don't know, Phil, if you know that I do couples communication counseling all around the country and workshops and, and the reason that one of the reasons I started those is because I started seeing that the Achilles heel of all human beings is our inability to handle personal criticism without becoming defensive and.
[00:47:46] I was able after a number of years to develop a workaround, to allow people to meditate into an altered state before they heard criticism from their partners. So, I have a couple set aside just [00:48:00] two hours a week where there's a time period during those two hours, which in addition to appreciating each other during part of that time period, they share their one most important concern.
[00:48:11] But before their partner listens to that concern, they alternate, they alter their biologically natural state of becoming defensive and they, and I train them how to open into a non-defensive state that only will last about 30, 35 minutes. But during that period of time, they can really hear their partners, perspectives and concerns without internally developing a defensive dialogue that prevents them from really hearing their partner fully.
[00:48:40] PH: [00:48:40] you just, can you share how this is how you can alter that? I mean, I know you do
[00:48:49] WF: [00:48:49] yes, I can't do it in less than 10 hours. I'll give you one clue. So, one of the things that I ask in the workshop is to have each person write in a piece of [00:49:00] paper. Whether if their partner's life were in jeopardy, they would take and they knew that they could save their partner's life, but they had a 50% risk, the chance of, of dying themselves.
[00:49:10] Would they do that? And about 98% of men say they would do that even though about the third of the men in the workshop are there with a woman that they are thinking about divorcing or not, or breaking up with? Conversely about 85% of the women. Say they would do that for the men. And so, the first meditation that I asked the men and women to do, and then if they wouldn't die for their partner, who asked what would you be willing to lose an arm or a leg for your partner, or do something a little bit less damaging than that?
[00:49:42] And since almost all the people in the workshop are willing to make some significant sacrifice for their partner. The first meditation of the six meditations is to say, if, you know, if I'm willing to die for my partner, May it maybe. He'll be even easier to just listen to my partner for 30 minutes.
[00:50:05] PH: [00:50:05] I want to just being mindful of time. I know you're on the schedule. You have five more minutes to wrap it up. Can you speak about; can you stare at different on how you experienced and from your research treat their daughters and their daughters and their sons.
[00:50:30] WF: [00:50:30] Not should. Well, I mean, yes, should, but not, not very much meaning that it's really an example. I do a lot of expert witness work and I'm over at one of the father's houses that I observed before I talk about him in court.
[00:50:45] And, you know, the father has, has, has his daughters. He only sees his daughter about once every two weeks, and he wants the daughter to feel really special. So, he has the entire room set up with, you know, with her, her princess room. And, you know, I talked to the dad [00:51:00] about, you know, do you know that. Part of what you're having a problem with is that the woman you just divorced feels like she has the right to be the only parent with the children.
[00:51:11] And she's very much liked a princess. You often complain about your wife, your ex-wife being a princess, but now you're training your daughter to be a princess. Does, does that make a lot of sense to you and like gives him on the one hand he's treating his daughter is such yeah. Preciousness. And we understand that that many dads have you know, my, my assistant often talks about how the father her husband who's the FA father will often be much more lenient to the daughter then to the sons.
[00:51:42] And I confront dads on that issue, and I say, you know, dads, if you really respect women, you don't you don't protect them. You don't protect people. You respect, you protect people that you want to have remain a child and keep in child mode. And part of respecting women is expecting from them. As much as you respect, from the boy now, there's, you know, there's little places where I could argue with that argument, but as a general rule, the thing that I think that could lead dads and moms.
[00:52:16] In the most positive direction for raising our, their, our daughters as effectively as possible to have as many options as possible is to expect as much of them as we do of our sons.
[00:52:28] PH: [00:52:28] Yeah with this Warren, I think we should drive it up. We're almost at an hour. I know you have to go. Thank you. So, so, so, so much amazing wisdom and knowledge as, as a father and as a specialist, and I wish you all the luck with your work.
[00:52:46] This will be the fruits that you are hoping for and the fruits that you are. Hopefully we talk again soon. Hopefully we talk again soon.
[00:52:52] WF: [00:52:52] Well, thank you. I hope the book will be published in South African. I'll be able to meet you and spend some time with you and meet your family as well.
[00:52:59] PH: I would really like that. Please hit me up.
WF: [00:53:03] I certainly will. It was great, really wonderful talking with you. You have such warmth and empathy and curiosity and intellectual openness. It's a really wonderful combination.
[00:53:14] PH: Thank you Warren. Thank you. That's really kind of you. Thank you. That's really kind of here, Warren. I'm going to cut here really, really good.
Warren Thomas Farrell is an American educator, activist, and author of seven books on men's and women's issues.
All of his books are related to men's and women's studies, including his March 2018 publication “The Boy Crisis”. Farrell initially came to prominence in the 1970s as a supporter of second wave feminism; he served on the New York City Board of the National Organization for Women (NOW).
Although today he is generally considered "the father of the men's movement" he advocates for neither a men’s nor a women’s movement but a gender liberation movement. Warren chairs the Coalition to Create a White House Council on Boys and Men amongst other things to influence change.