‘Tonight, about 40 percent of children in the western world will go to sleep in homes in which their fathers do not live.
Before they reach the age of eighteen, more than half of our nation’s children are likely to spend at least a significant portion of their childhoods living apart from their fathers.
Never before in this country have so many children been voluntarily abandoned by their fathers.
Never before have so many children grown up without knowing what it means to have a father.
Fatherlessness is the most harmful demographic trend of this generation. It is the leading cause of declining child and adult wellbeing in our society. It is also the engine driving our most urgent social problems…. If this trend continues, fatherlessness is likely to change the shape of our society.’
These comments by David Blankenhorn highlight the terrible impact that father absence has on both individuals and society as a whole.
Since the end of Second World War there has been increasing interest by governments and social commentators in the effects of the absent father on the development of those within the remaining family unit.
As a result thousands of studies have since been conducted. These studies have repeatedly uncovered a staggering array of issues inflicted particularly on the children of father absent households.
Interestingly it has been shown that the affects of emotionally unavailable fathers were almost identical to those where the father was physically absent.
The affects covered everything from physical differences (i.e. the quickened development into and through puberty of children raised with no father present) through to many and varied social and physiological issues.
The summary of issues listed below, in no way covers every aspect of father absence however it is still a powerful indictment to the current social epidemic.
In reference to the general population individuals raised in a father absent environment demonstrate;
1. 5 times the average suicide rate:
2. Dramatically increased rates of depression and anxiety:
3. 32 time the average rate of incarceration:
4. Decreased education levels and increased drop-out rates:
5. Consistently lower average income levels:
6. Lower job security:
7. Increased rates of divorce and relationship issues:
8. Substantially increased rates of substance abuse: and
9. Increases in social and mental behavioural issues:
Whilst the list above outlines the devastating foundation that father absence sets it does not begin to address the subtle aspect of father absence.
How do you measure a sense of abandonment and betrayal, how do you measure the feeling of not fitting in and of being different.
Father absence in many ways steals our birthright; it takes from us our inherent and natural internal structures. These are the frameworks that we rely on every day in every aspect of our lives, whether it be in our relationships, our level of happiness, our health, our behaviour, our prosperity or level of success.
If these inherent frameworks are missing or not allowed to fully develop we really never have a chance to realise our full potential.
How an Absent Father Affects Boys and Girls Differently
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the share of children living in mother-only households has risen from 8 percent in 1960 to 23 percent in 2010. Freakonomics has a long-standing interest in the role parents play in the lives of their children, and while we usually find no merit in helicopter parenting, a basic level of involvement is obviously important. Past research has shown that a father’s involvement with his children is linked to all kinds of beneficial outcomes, from higher academic achievement, improved social and emotional well-being, to lower incidences of delinquency, risk taking, and other problem behaviors.
A new working paper from authors Deborah A. Cobb-Clark and Erdal Tekin examines the relationship between juvenile delinquency and the role of a father in the household, particularly in terms of the different effects an absent father has on boys and girls. They discovered, among other things, that sons benefit far more from a father (or father-figure) than daughters do. From the abstract:
…we find that adolescent boys engage in more delinquent behavior if there is no father figure in their lives. However, adolescent girls’ behavior is largely independent of the presence (or absence) of their fathers.
Though a non-residential father isn’t ideal, a father-like replacement does have positive effects on boys. A stepfather tends to reduce delinquent behavior, and having a father figure who puts in a significant quantity of time around a child is important.
Adolescent boys who have a father figure in their lives are significantly less likely to engage in subsequent delinquent behavior than are their peers with no father in their lives. For example, the incidence of any form of delinquent behavior is 7.6 percentage points lower among boys living with their biological fathers and is 8.5 percentage points lower among boys who live with stepfathers and have no relationship with their biological fathers.
While daughters generally require a level of quality interaction with a father figure, sons benefit from sheer quantity of time, and respond simply to having a father or father figure around the house. Most interestingly, however, is the finding that daughters appear to be adversely affected by contact with their non-residential biological father.
It is also important to note that growing up with only a non-residential, biological father who spent time talking with his adolescent daughter appears to be associated with slight increases in her delinquent behavior as measured by any type of crime, violent crime, and selling drugs once she reaches adulthood. This surprising result may be due to the possibility that these verbal interactions between the non-residential father and the adolescent is an indication of a problematic relationship between the two, which might have manifested itself as delinquent behavior later in life.
For both young men and women, delinquent behavior decreased if their mothers simply spent time “doing things” with them during their adolescence. Mothers also do significantly more “talking” with their daughters than with their sons, a potential contributor for why sons are more affected by the absence of a father than daughters are. However, the authors note that:
Mothers also do not appear to compensate for the complete absence of a father figure by increasing their involvement with their children. In fact, it is those children without a father figure in their lives who engage in fewer activities and talk about fewer issues with their mothers.
I know from having experience with my first daughters dad not being around will definitely have an impact on a child’s life. I don’t think the absent parent really understands fully what they do to that child mentally. What I don’t understand is how a parent can go on living their lives like the child doesn’t exist. Wether it’s drugs, mentally, or physically stopping them from being in that child’s life none of that matters. How can someone be so selfish?? These children didn’t ask to be brought into this world. They never asked for any of it. Then to have a parent that’s suppose to do right by that child and protect and teach the child, just bail. That’s wrong!! So for all those children out there who have an absent parent, just know that you are amazing and that you did nothing wrong. Keep working toward your life goals and stay strong because only you can make your life’s dreams come true. Life is what you make of it and it’s yours to live…..