Sadly, too many Americans are growing up without the presence of a father. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24 million children live in biological-absent father homes.
The positive impacts of having dad around are numerous such as better social-emotional and academic functioning and fewer behavioral problems. Children in father-absent homes are almost four times more likely to be poor. In 2011, 12 percent of children in married-couple families were living in poverty, compared to 44 percent of children in mother-only families.*
Youths in father-absent households had significantly higher odds of incarceration than those in mother-father families. Youths who never had a father in the household experienced the highest odds.
A study, using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, revealed that in many cases the absence of a biological father contributes to increased risk of child maltreatment. The results suggest that Child Protective Services agencies have some justification in viewing the presence of a social father as increasing children’s risk of abuse and neglect. It is believed that in families with a non-biological father figure, there is a higher risk of abuse and neglect to children, despite the social father living in the household or only dating mother.
Other problems such as drug and alcohol abuse, childhood obesity and struggling with education are also associated statistically with children who live in father-absent homes.
Obviously there are cases where children have done very well. Statistically it has not been the norm.
I’m glad mom and dad didn’t abort me and I’m glad they stayed together. Looking back I know it took both of them working very hard to raise five children. My dad was not perfect but there are many good things I can say about him. I wish he were still alive so I could say, “Happy Father’s Day.”
I have had a lot of good mentors over the years. Mentors can do and be a lot. However, it’s tough to replace a father.
One of my sons has been with me the last few days. We’ve been on the basketball court a few times. We’ve sat on the back porch and chatted late at night. As always we have shared a lot of meals and spent time hanging out. On Father’s Day he will head out to his next military assignment. We will stand in the airport and hug farewell. I will tell him I am so proud of him and love him. I will wave goodbye until he disappears on the other side of the security gate. I will then call my other military son to tell him essentially the same thing.
Be quick on the visits and the telephone this Father’s Day. Regardless if you are the child or parent, the present is what we have and absence must be a thing of the past.
*The National Fatherhood Initiative provided statistics and data shared in this article; CPS Involvement in Families with Social Fathers; Fragile Families Research Brief No.46. Princeton, NJ and New York, NY; Bendheim-Thomas Center for Research on Child Wellbeing and Social Indicators Survey Center, 2010. Glenn Mollette is an American syndicated columnist and author. This column does not necessarily reflect the view of any organization, institution or this paper or media source. Like his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/GlennMollette.