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  • 7/13/2008

The Importance of father



The father is an integral part of the family. Traditional family values have always maintained this and few would doubt that a father figure is a positive thing for children.

Experts say that within the next decade, the number of unconventional families will outnumber "traditional" ones. More and more, research shows that we may be heading in a bad direction.


Children growing up without the stability of a two-parent home are much more at risk than their peers. Needless to say, there are always exceptions, but certainly life without Daddy stacks the odds against the kids. Drug abuse, emotional and health problems, academic troubles and anger - children growing up without their father are increasingly susceptible to all these and more.


Following are research results pointing out the pitfalls of households with inattentive or absent fathers:


1. Drug And Alcohol Abuse

2. Poverty

3. Health Problems

4. Extra-Marital Sex

5. Suicide

6. Emotional And Behavioral Problems

7. Not Making The Grade

8. Crime

9. Where"s  Daddy?


1. Drug And Alcohol Abuse:

The absence of the father from the home affects significantly the behavior of adolescents and results in greater use of alcohol and marijuana.

Source: Deane Scott Berman, "Risk Factors Leading to Adolescent Substance Abuse," Adolescence 30 (1995): 201-206

Teenagers living in single-parent households are more likely to abuse alcohol and at an earlier age compared to children reared in two-parent households

 Source: Terry E. Duncan, Susan C. Duncan and Hyman Hops,


"The Effects of Family Cohesiveness and Peer Encouragement on the Development of Adolescent Alcohol Use: A Cohort-Sequential Approach to the Analysis of Longitudinal Data," Journal of Studies on Alcohol 55 (1994).


Fatherless children are at a dramatically greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, suicide, poor educational performance, teen pregnancy and criminality.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Center for Health Statistics, Survey on Child Health, Washington, DC, 1993.


2. Poverty


Fatherless children are five times more likely to live in poverty, compared to children living with both parents.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Center for Health Statistics, Survey on Child Health, Washington, DC, 1993.

Families headed by single mothers not only have lower incomes, they have seen no income growth since the early 1970s.

Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Money Income 1991, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, May 1991.


Women who gave birth as teenagers were also more likely to have total family incomes below 50 percent of the poverty line. Over half of women who gave birth as teenagers had total family incomes below 50 percent of the poverty line in 1992.

Source: U.S. General Accounting Office, Families on Welfare: Teenage Mothers Least Likely to Become Self-Sufficient, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, May 1994.

father and son relationship

Households with a father present have seen a steady rise in income from 1960 to 1990; however, households without a father have seen a decline in income from 1980 to 1990.

Source: Victor Fuchs and Diane M. Reklis, "America"s Children: Economic Perspectives and Policy Options," Science 255 (1992).


3. Health Problems


Unmarried mothers are less likely to obtain prenatal care and more likely to have a low-birth-weight baby. Researchers find that these negative effects persist even when they take into account factors, such as parental education, that often distinguish single-parent from two-parent families.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, Report to Congress on Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing, Hyattsville, MD, 1995.


4. Extra-Marital Sex


In a study of 700 adolescents, researchers found that "compared to families with two natural parents living in the home, adolescents from single-parent families have been found to engage in greater and earlier sexual activity."

Source: Carol W. Metzler, et al. "The Social Context for Risky Sexual Behavior Among Adolescents," Journal of Behavioral Medicine 17 (1994).

father and daughter
A study of 156 victims of child sexual abuse found that the majority of the children came from disrupted or single-parent homes; only 31 percent of the children lived with both biological parents. Although stepfamilies make up only about 10 percent of all families, 27 percent of the abused children lived with either a stepfather or the mother"s boyfriend.

Source: Beverly Gomes-Schwartz, Jonathan Horowitz, and Albert P. Cardarelli, "Child Sexual Abuse Victims and Their Treatment," U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.


5. Suicide

Fatherless children are at dramatically greater risk of suicide.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Center for Health Statistics, Survey on Child Health, Washington, DC, 1993.


In a study of 146 adolescent friends of 26 adolescent suicide victims, teens living in single-parent families were found not only more likely to commit suicide but also more likely to suffer from psychological disorders when compared to teens living in intact families.

Source: David A. Brent, et al. "Post-traumatic Stress Disorder in Peers of Adolescent Suicide Victims: Predisposing Factors and Phenomenology." Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 34, 1995.


6. Emotional And Behavioral Problems


In 1988, a study of preschool children admitted to New Orleans hospitals as psychiatric patients over a 34-month period found that nearly 80 percent came from fatherless homes.

Source: Jack Block, et al. "Parental Functioning and the Home Environment in Families of Divorce," Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 27 (1988)


Even controlling for variations across groups in parent education, race and other child and family factors, 18- to 22-year-olds from disrupted families were twice as likely to have poor relationships with their mothers and fathers, to show high levels of emotional distress or problem behavior [and] to have received psychological help.

Source: Nicholas Zill, Donna Morrison, and Mary Jo Coiro, "Long Term Effects of Parental Divorce on Parent-Child Relationships, Adjustment and Achievement in Young Adulthood." Journal of Family Psychology 7 (1993).

mother and daughter

Compared to peers living with both biological parents, sons and daughters of divorced or separated parents exhibited significantly more conduct problems. Daughters of divorced or separated mothers evidenced significantly higher rates of internalizing problems, such as anxiety or depression.

Source: Denise B. Kandel, Emily Rosenbaum and Kevin Chen, "Impact of Maternal Drug Use and Life Experiences on Preadolescent Children Born to Teenage Mothers," Journal of Marriage and the Family56 (1994).


"Father hunger" often afflicts boys age one and two whose fathers are suddenly and permanently absent. Sleep disturbances, such as trouble falling asleep, nightmares and night terrors frequently begin within one to three months after the father leaves home.

Source: Alfred A. Messer, "Boys" Father Hunger: The Missing Father Syndrome," Medical Aspects of Human Sexuality, January 1989.


In a longitudinal study of 1,197 fourth-grade students, researchers observed "greater levels of aggression in boys from mother-only households than from boys in mother-father households."

Source: N. Vaden-Kierman, N. Ialongo, J. Pearson, and S. Kellam, "Household Family Structure and Children"s Aggressive Behavior: A Longitudinal Study of Urban Elementary School Children," Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 23, no. 5 (1995).


Kids who exhibited violent behavior at school were 11 times as likely not to live with their fathers and six times as likely to have parents who were not married. Boys from families with absent fathers are at higher risk for violent behavior than boys from intact families.

Source: J.L. Sheline (et al.), "Risk Factors...," American Journal of Public Health, No. 84. 1994.


7. Not Making The Grade


Kids who live with both biological parents at age 14 are significantly more likely to graduate from high school than those kids who live with a single parent, a parent and step-parent, or neither parent.

Source: G.D. Sandefur (et al.), "The Effects of Parental Marital Status..." Social Forces, September 1992.


Children from disrupted families are 20 percent more unlikely to attend college than kids from intact, two-parent families.

Source: J. Wallerstein, Family Law Quarterly, 20. (Summer 1986)


Fatherless children - kids living in homes without a stepfather or without contact with their biological father - are twice as likely to drop out of school.

Source: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Survey on Child Health. (1993)


Children from low-income, two-parent families outperform students from high-income, single-parent homes. Almost twice as many high achievers come from two-parent homes as one-parent homes.

Source: "One-Parent Families and Their Children;" Charles F. Kettering Foundation (1990).

father and son growing

Among black children between the ages of 6 to 9 years old, black children in mother-only households scored significantly lower on tests of intellectual ability than black children living with two parents.

Source: Luster and McAdoo, Child Development 65. 1994.


After taking into account race, socioeconomic status, sex, age and ability, high school students from single-parent households were 1.7 times more likely to drop out than were their corresponding counterparts living with both biological parents.

Source: Ralph McNeal, Sociology of Education 88. 1995.


8. Crime


43 percent of prison inmates grew up in a single-parent household - 39 percent with their mothers, 4 percent with their fathers - and an additional 14 percent lived in households without either biological parent. Another 14 percent had spent at last part of their childhood in a foster home, agency or other juvenile institution.

Source: US Bureau of Justice Statistics, Survey of State Prison Inmates. 1991


72 percent of adolescent murderers grew up without fathers. 60 percent of America"s rapists grew up the same way.

Source: D. Cornell (et al.), Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 5. 1987. And N. Davidson, "Life Without Father," Policy Review. 1990.


Only 13 percent of juvenile delinquents come from families in which the biological mother and father are married to each other. By contrast, 33 percent have parents who are either divorced or separated and 44 percent have parents who were never married.

Source: Wisconsin Dept. of Health and Social Services, April 1994.


Compared to boys from intact, two-parent families, teenage boys from disrupted families are not only more likely to be incarcerated for delinquent offenses, but also to manifest worse conduct while incarcerated.

Source: M Eileen Matlock et al., "Family Correlates of Social Skills..." Adolescence 29. 1994.


70 percent of juveniles in state reform institutions grew up in single- or no-parent situations.

Source: Alan Beck et al., Survey of Youth in Custody, 1987, US Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1988.


9. Where"s Daddy?


Fathers who cared for their children"s intellectual development and their adolescent"s social development were more likely to advance in their careers compared to men who weren"t involved in such activities.

Source: J. Snarey, How Fathers Care for the Next Generation. Harvard Univ. Press.


In 1991, about 20 percent of preschool children were cared for by their fathers - both married and single. In 1988, the number was 15 percent.

Source: M. O"Connell, "Where"s Papa? Father"s Role in Child Care," Population Reference Bureau. 1993.


Among fathers who maintain contact with their children after a divorce, the pattern of the relationship between father and child changes. They begin to behave more like relatives than like parents. Instead of helping with homework, nonresident dads are more likely to take the kids shopping, to the movies or out to dinner. Instead of providing steady advice and guidance, divorced fathers become "treat dads."

Source: F. Furstenberg, A. Cherlin, Divided Families. Harvard Univ. Press. 1991.

While 57 percent of unwed dads with kids no older than 2 visit their children more than once a week, by the time the kid"s 7½, only 23 percent are in frequent contact with their children.

Source: R. Lerman and Theodora Ooms, Young Unwed Fathers. 1993.


About 40 percent of the kids living in fatherless homes haven"t seen their dads in a year or more. Of the rest, only one in five sleeps even one night a month at the father"s home. And only one in six sees their father once or more per week.

Source: F. Furstenberg, A. Cherlin, Divided Families. Harvard Univ. Press. 1991.


According to a 1992 Gallup poll, more than 50 percent of all adults agreed that fathers today spend less time with their kids than their fathers did with them.

Source: Gallup national random sample conducted for the National Center for Fathering, April 1992.


Overall, more than 75 percent of American children are at risk because of paternal deprivation. Even in two-parent homes, fewer than 25 percent of young boys and girls experience an average of at least one hour a day of relatively individualized contact with their fathers.

Source: Henry Biller, "The Father Factor..." a paper based on presentations during meetings with William Galston, Deputy Director, Domestic Policy, Clinton White House, December 1993 and April 1994.


Of children age 5 to 14, 1.6 million return home to houses where there is no adult present.

Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, "Who"s Minding the Kids?" Statistical Brief. April 1994.


Almost 20 percent of sixth- through twelfth-graders have not had a good conversation lasting for at least 10 minutes with at least one of their parents in more than a month.

Source: Peter Benson, "The Troubled Journey." Search Institute. 1993.


A 1990 L.A. Times poll found that 57 percent of all fathers and 55 percent of all mothers feel guilty about not spending enough time with their children.


Source: Lynn Smith and Bob Sipchen, "Two Career Family Dilemma," Los Angeles Times, Aug. 12, 1990.

In 1965, parents on average spent approximately 30 hours a week with their kids. By 1985, the amount of time had fallen to 17 hours.

Source: William Mattox, "The Parent Trap." Policy Review. Winter, 1991.

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