Interesting. I've been reading Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, an American Psychiatrist and Psychologist, about Gender Identity Confusion in boys.
It is often said that a healthy adult relationship with the opposite sex results from a healthy childhood relationship with the opposite sex parent. This is obviously true for girls (Dr. James Dobson "Bringing up girls") where self-esteem is key to coping in the adult world relating to men. Self-esteem is something on which a father's love and affection has huge effect in girls.
How is this true for boys and how does it work? Dr. Nicolosi says that it used to be thought that GID in boys was caused by an unhealthy "symbiotic" bond between mother and son. But new observations and research shows that closeness between mother and son is fine, as long as dad is in the mix and does not withdraw. It is dad who teaches the son the appropriate level of interaction with the female world at the pre-pubescent stage, and also teaches how to relate to women in a loving, protective way. So- Dad is essential to creating a healthy relationship between mum and boy, with all the life-long consequences that gives.
This has whacked me in the brain this evening. Kirsten Birkett writes in "The essence of family", that modern culture puts mum as the lynchpin of family life, but Biblical study actually shows that dad is the key family member around which all others will gather. It's the pattern of loving patriarchy, and it's healthy.
This means that the challenge for single mums and widows with young kids is a big one. In some sense, it's right to feel like "a family without an anchor". The loss for the family is huge. And the consequences for our society of "chucking dad out with the rubbish" are more serious than I first thought, for ongoing generations.