Friday, October 7, 2011

The power of fatherhood in film

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The power of fatherhood in film
By Jeffery M. Leving

Hollywood doesn’t make a lot of movies about fatherhood, but they love to make movies about divorce, conflict and tragedy.

Yet the image of fathers that most people have is one that has been defined by the movies and television shows that we view. It’s a skewed perception that is often inaccurate.

Many fathers believe that their rights are automatically lost in a divorce, but that is not true, of course. Oftentimes, fathers have powerful rights over property and their children that are too often forfeited or lost for the wrong reasons.

Recently, though, Hollywood has produced one movie about the importance of fatherhood called “Courageous.”

The film was produced by Michael Catt, a Baptist minister from Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia. Although many may view the film as a religious-themed production intended to push audiences to embrace Christianity, the film speaks to truisms in our society about fatherhood, although in a very dramatic manner.

As we all know, drama in Hollywood and on television have become the most effective tools for educating many Americans. We learn about everything from the fundamentals of the Middle East conflict to our rights in the judicial system by watching television or going to the big screen.

That’s why I support the religious ministry that is the foundation of the new film “Courageous”. Behind the plot are fundamental truisms about fatherhood and the role of father’s in family structures.

The plot of the movie is simple: Four police officers and fathers face personal tragedy and conflict in the film and they are forced to choose between becoming strong fathers or losing control of their families and their sons.

What does it take to be a real father? It takes someone willing to stand up as much for their own rights as it does standing up for the rights of your family and especially your children.

Fathers do not fight for their rights because it gives them power. They do so because it sets an example for their children. The cause of fatherhood is one that allows fathers to fight for what is right and to fight for their rights.

I counsel many fathers who find themselves in the middle of divorce. It is not easy. But I always try to remind them what they are fighting for. Sometimes they feel it is easy to walk away from a fight, believing the fight – which can be a strong word – can also be destructive or a bad influence on their children. In reality, standing up for your rights is the example that fathers must set for their children.

Defending what is right may take “courage”, as detailed in the movie, but it also takes conviction, the responsibility to do what’s right.

I wish Hollywood would make movies about progressive paternal involvement and portray fathers accurately as the caring and responsible people that the majority are. But that’s not the case. So anytime a movie comes to the big screen that tells a fundamental story of fatherly courage and responsibility, I am supportive.

Sometimes, you can’t save a family as a whole. But, you can take steps to save its important components, beginning with yourself and your children.

Finding the courage to make the right decisions and follow the right course of action can seem daunting. But in the end, the people that benefit the most are the ones closest to your heart, your children.

(Named one of “America’s Best Lawyers” by Forbes Radio, Jeffery Leving is the author of two ground-breaking books, Fathers’ Rights and Divorce Wars. He can be reached at For more information on the film Courageous, visit

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