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Even the best mother cannot be a father

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It may be a lifelong dream for a woman to have a child, but it is definitely not a dream for a child to grow up without a father. (iStock photo)

Fox television has plans to unveil a new reality show called "Labor Of Love." It follows professional women in their 30s and 40s who put off children to focus on a career and have thus decided to have a baby on their own whether they can hurry up and find a husband or not.

What's shocking about this isn't just the existence of the program but the fact that the folks behind it see nothing wrong with the decision to purposefully create a fatherless child. "It's a show about empowering a woman who can pursue a decision to have a child to help complete a lifelong dream," says executive producer Desiree Gruber.

It may be a lifelong dream for a woman to have a child, but it is definitely not a dream for a child to grow up without a father.

Fatherlessness is hugely under-reported in this country, and a reality show that glorifies it will only make the matter worse. Fatherlessness is the cause of almost every social ill our country faces: poverty, dropouts, pregnancy and suicide, just to name a few. And children from the upper end of the social strata are not exempt from the fallout. Even if they avoid the above pitfalls, they will not avoid the lifelong emotional problems that ensue from growing up without a father.

Lest people get all partisan on me and call me out of touch for not understanding that families come in all shapes and sizes, allow me to remind you it was President Barack Obama who said this in 2008:

Children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and twenty times more likely to end up in prison. They are more likely to have behavioral problems, or run away from home, or become teenage parents themselves. And the foundations of our community are weaker because of it.

Fathers are critical to the well-being of children. Critical. Their existence creates kids with fewer emotional and behavioral problems and better academic and long-term success. Girls exhibit less psychological distress, and boys' unbridled aggression becomes channeled in a meaningful and productive way. It's a win-win.

"The notion of absent fathers is not a new reality," writes Anthony Craig in The Eclipse of Fatherhood and the Way Forward.

Whether due to sickness or casualties of war or the shameful flight from responsibility, there have always been fatherless homes. What's new in our culture is the shift in the understanding of the meaning of fatherhood [emphasis added]. In the past, an absent father was looked upon as a tragedy. Today it's a lifestyle choice that may even have imagined advantages. If it's just a choice, then what is one choosing?

Simple: One is choosing to purposefully and irrevocably harm a child for life. Growing up without a father does serious and lasting damage to both boys and girls. It's time to stop exalting the idea that it is somehow normal, right, or even good for a woman to choose to have a child on her own.

Because no matter how great a mother she is, she can never be a father.

Suzanne Venker (@SuzanneVenker) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. She is an author, Fox News contributor, and trustee of Leading Women for Shared Parenting. Her fifth book, The Alpha Female's Guide to Men & Marriage: How Love Works, was published in February.

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