Growing up without a father figure has a profound effect on boys that last onto manhood. Boys need a father figure to learn how to be a man. Without having this influence in their lives, boys are at risk of growing into men who have problems with behavior, emotional stability, and relationships with both significant others and their children.
According to the 2007 UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund) report the well-being of children raised without fathers in economically advanced nations ranks extremely low regarding social-emotional well-being in particular. Many theories have been explored to explain the poor state of our nation’s children. However, a factor that has been largely ignored, particularly among children is the prevalence and devastating effects of father absence in children’s lives.
Even before the child is born, their father’s attitude regarding the pregnancy, behavior during the prenatal period, and the relationship between their father and mother may indirectly influence the risk for adverse birth outcomes. In early childhood, studies show that school-aged children with good relationships with their fathers were less likely to experience depression, exhibit disruptive behavior, or lie. Overall they were far more likely to show prosocial behavior. In adolescents the effect of fatherlessness can be seen, these children can experience poverty and a lack of good discipline. Former U.S President George W. Bush addressed the issue while in office stating, “Over the past four decades, fatherlessness has emerged as one of our greatest social problems. We know that children who grow up with absent fathers can suffer lasting damage. They are more likely to end up in poverty or drop out of school, become drug addicts, have children out of wedlock, or end up in prison. Fatherlessness is not the only cause of these things, but our nation must recognize it is an important factor.”
Although the absence of a father is not an isolated risk factor, it can take a toll on the development of children and the mental health of the mother. It is then important to take note that as many would argue that one parental role is more significant than the other. That is simply not true. According to psychology today, researchers have found that the results of a father’s absence on children are nothing short of disastrous, along several dimensions:
- Low self-esteem. Psychologists say when parents are absent children may blame themselves, believing there is something wrong with them. Children also develop the belief that the absent parent is bad and so, through genetics, they must also be bad. Children of divorce, where one parent has sole custody, grow up to have significantly lower self-esteem than children of parents who have joint custody or whose parents remain married. This is specifically true in men, who learn to be men mostly through their interaction with a father figure. Without those interactions, men can grow up to be unsure of how they should behave as husbands and fathers.
- Difficulty in bonding. Men who grow up without the presence of a father will also have problems bonding with their children. Having never experienced a father-son bond, they are unsure of how to develop that relationship with their children. These men were also never taught how to have a healthy relationship with women and tend to have a higher break-up and divorce rate.
- Emotional distress. Boys who grow up without a father show higher stress levels to daily challenges. A good relationship with his father teaches a son to better solve problems, allowing him, as a man, to deal with everyday stress in more useful ways. Men who grow up without paternal influence are also more likely to experience depression and anxiety.
- Crime. Men whose fathers were not around while they were growing are more likely to indulge indelinquency and youth crime including violent crime. They are more likely to offend and go to jail as an adult.
- Behavioral Problems. Fatherless boys will have more difficulties with social adjustment and are more likely to report problems with friendships, and manifest behavior problems, man will develop a swaggering, intimidating persona in an attempt to disguise their underlying fears, resentments, anxieties, and unhappiness.
Dads make every effort to become actively involved in your child’s life- whether you live in the same home as them or not. Here at Winnie’s Pure Health, we hope that you recognize your tremendous value as a father. We believe that you can truly make a difference in the lives of your children.