By Julie Garrison
Special to DadsDivorce.com
“Fatherhood turns out to be a complex and unique phenomenon with huge consequences for the emotional and intellectual growth of children.”
There is a large body of evidence pointing to the importance of a father in a child’s life. Children with two married parents or those whose parents share parenting in two homes, often fare better in life than those who are raised by their mothers alone.
Children who live with just their mother often live at the poverty level. When a dad lives with the mother or if the dad pays regular support for his children, they are lifted out of the high risk associated with a poverty upbringing.
But that’s not all that fathers do. They bring much more to their children than just monetary support.
Children Living Without Their Dad
Children with absentee fathers tend to have more behavioral problems and emotional difficulties. Absentee fathers refer to fathers who are completely out of the picture.
These children are more likely to be physically abused, smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol and engage in drug use.
Studies indicate that children without dads are often more violent and aggressive, become involved in more delinquent and criminal behavior, and perform more poorly in school. Some of these children are expelled from school or drop out of school altogether.
One school of thought indicates that a father’s love for his children is the key to their development.
Research Professor Ronald Rohner of the University of Connecticut says the following:
“In the US, Great Britain and Europe, we have assumed for the past 300 years that all children need for normal healthy development is a loving relationship with their mother and that dads are there as support for the mother and to support the family financially but are not required for the healthy development of the children.
But that belief is fundamentally wrong. We have to start getting away from that idea and realize the dad’s influence is as great, and sometimes greater, than the mother’s.”
Rejection in Childhood
When a dad exits a child’s life or just drifts away through inertia, a child will feel rejected. Unlike physical pain, a child will experience this pain over and over again during his childhood.
Even if a child is too young to remember his father leaving, he will likely experience a form of rejection. As he grows up without a dad, he will often see himself as “less than” many of his peers.
“Children and adults everywhere – regardless of race, culture, and gender – tend to respond in exactly the same way when they perceive themselves to be rejected,” according to Prof. Rohner.
They may be anxious and insecure, which leads to neediness. Anger and bitterness may cause them to become emotionally closed off from forming important relationships in an attempt to protect themselves from further pain. Self-esteem can plummet, and they may find stressful situations too overwhelming to handle effectively.
Facts About Children Raised Without Fathers
Courtesy of MensRights.com, children who are raised in fatherless homes account for the following:
1. 63% of youth suicides. (Source: US Dept. of Health & Human Services, Bureau of the Census).
2. 71% of pregnant teenagers. (Source: US Dept. of Health & Human Services)
3. 90% of all homeless and runaway children.
4. 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes. (Source: U.S. Dept. of Justice)
5. 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders. (Source: Centre for Disease Control)
6. 80% of rapists motivated with displaced anger. (Source: Criminal Justice & Behavior)
7. 71% of all high school dropouts. (Source: National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools)
8. 75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers. (Source: Rainbows for all Gods’ Children)
9. 85% of all youths sitting in prisons. (Source: Fulton Co. Georgia jail populations, Texas Dept. of Corrections)
Julie Garrison has been writing articles and short stories for the past 10 years and has appeared in several magazines and e-zines.