Fatherless and Flunking

I want to publish more posts about well-being, and a suitable topic with which to begin is fatherhood. Most of us have anecdotal information regarding the lack of male presence in many families. There are pronounced, typical stories of a guy fleeting after he impregnates his girlfriend or a couple getting divorced in a child’s early years. I suppose we all know that not having a father in one’s life is, at least, disadvantageous. However, I researched about more precise and tangible effects of a fatherless childhood, and, on the fatherhood.org website (here), Melissa Steward notes some distressing statistics regarding this predicament. I must remark that the data provided give a snapshot of the crisis, but they do not encompass the full extent of the problem and do not show causation between fatherlessness and these unfortunate situations. It would be smart to assume that there are only correlations between the data and the outcomes.

“According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24 million children, one out of three, live without their biological dad in the home.” This is the first statistics added to the page – it is not the most useful information, however, because a male presence is not solely required to be the presence of the biological father – a strong male presence can be a foster father or a step-father.

Steward provides 10 central research points that mark the outcomes of fatherless childhoods.

  1. Children in father-absent homes are almost four times more likely to be poor.
  2. Children of single mothers show higher levels of aggressive behavior than children born to married mothers.
  3. Infant mortality rates are nearly two times higher for infants of unmarried mothers than for married mothers.
  4. One in five prison inmates had a father in prison.
  5. Studies of juvenile offenders indicated that family structure significantly predicts delinquency.
  6. Teens without fathers are twice as likely to be involved in early sexual activity and seven times more likely to get pregnant as an adolescent.
  7. Compared to children living with married biological parents, those whose single parent had a live-in partner had more than 8 times the rate of maltreatment overall, over 10 times the rate of abuse, and more than 6 times the rate of neglect.
  8. Youth are more at risk of first substance use without a highly involved father. Adolescents whose fathers were drug abusers revealed that paternal smoking and drug use lead to strained father-child relationships. This weakened relationship led to greater adolescent maladjustment with family and friends and a higher risk for adolescent drug use and smoking. Fathers who smoke cigarettes were less likely to enforce anti-smoking rules of their children and had weaker bonds in terms of adolescent admiration and emulation.
  9. Obese children are more likely to live in father-absent homes than are non-obese children.
  10. Students living in father-absent homes are twice as likely to repeat a grade in school. Father involvement in schools is associated with the higher likelihood of their children getting mostly A’s. In the typical elementary school classroom of 20 students, 7 of them — over 33 percent — are growing up without their biological father in the home.

To comment, the statistics derive from reliable sources such as the U.S. Department of Education and the Child Development Journal, and, therefore, are unlikely to be incorrect. However, I must remind you that these statistics show correlation, not causation. There are other factors that, when combined with fatherlessness, create these outcomes.

With this in mind, it’s very clear that 1) the US has a problem with the absence of father figures in families 2) the absence of father figures in families can contribute to unfavorable outcomes for children. I do not know the path in which the trend is going but I know that this problem has become worse since the mid-1900s.

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