Recent interest in the subject of fatherhood notwithstanding, the problems of fathers, and in particular young fathers, have generally been overlooked in matters of public policy. In fact, the quality of political attention given young fathers has, if anything, grown somewhat negative in recent years, a trend evident in federal welfare reform legislation, which tends to cast young men as irresponsible losers or even sexual predators while resolutely demanding that they pay up. While such a negative approach might be justified in a minority of cases, in general it neither encourages healthy family formation where chances for it exist nor addresses the very real problems that many young fathers must overcome if they are to become effective parents to their children. The purpose of this report is to present young fathers in a more complete and fully human way than has generally been done in the past, to allow them to explain in their words the forces that shape and sometimes limit their potential as fathers. Our hope is that policymakers can take from the report a new appreciation of the lives of these young men, and that by doing so they will be better prepared to formulate policies helpful to all members of young families. (Author abstract)
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