Whenever most people think of family, the image that comes to mind is a household consisting of mom, dad, brothers, sisters, etc. Unfortunately, there are many people that imagine a household that consists of one parent, usually a mother. Or in some cases, a grandparent that has taken on the responsibility of raising two generations on their own.
According to the U.S Census Bureau, 1 in 4 American children live without a father in the home. The support system that we’re biologically designed to have during childhood is being stolen from so many children because some men are abandoning their responsibilities as a father, or a judge is determining which parent is more well-equip to raise children on their own.
Why Are So Many Fathers Leaving?
When a father leaves his children, it is not a momentary decision. It is often a long-term pattern of thinking that is motivated by how the father defines himself, and his abilities to succeed as a husband and father.
So what’s causing these long-term patterns of thinking? Is it income? Education? Culture? The list might as well be infinite to any father that believes any reason is a valid excuse to abandon their family.
Fathers are leaving their families behind because that is simply the standards they’re willing to live up to. Circumstances make life challenging for everyone, but more every man that has failed as a father by leaving when things got tough, there’s a man that has done whatever took to be present in their child’s life under the same or similar circumstances.
The Impacts During Adolescence
Without a father, it’s up to the mother to be the financial provider, caretaker, decision maker, and to take on so many other key roles of the household without help. This includes taking kids to school, cooking dinner, working full-time, cleaning the house, grocery shopping, paying the bills… the list does not stop!
Single moms are superheroes for taking on a role that is virtually impossible to tackle, but they do it anyways because they love their children beyond measure. But one person can only do so much!
When a child grows up without a father, research has found that:
- They will struggle with regulating emotions such as depression, anxiety, anger, and sadness.
- They will miss out on the education of seeing what it takes to maintain a successful marriage.
- Sons may struggle with gender role and identity confusion.
- Daughters may engage in sexual activity at an earlier age.
- Children will grow up only understanding a single-income household, likely resulting in a low-income mindset.
The negative effects vary depending on the sex of the child, as boys and girls think differently and have different needs through adolescence.
The Impacts During Adulthood
For some people, the damaging impact of having an absent father isn’t even realized until adulthood. Once that child comes to a moment in life when it’s time to evolve into an independent adult, they realize they’re missing something, but they don’t really know what that “something” is…
That “something” that’s missing could be any of the following, just to name a few:
- Emotional security
- Gender identity
- Relationship skills
- Financial knowledge
- The ability to communicate
So many skills adults need to function well in society are left to the individual to first, realize they’re missing these essential skills, and then acquire them on their own.
What Needs To Change?
What needs to happen, is public school systems across the country need to incorporate parenting and relationship skills into their academic standards. We see so many people leaving 12 years of schooling with no knowledge of how to raise a child, how to manage emotions, or how to contribute to a relationship or marriage.
In the perfect world, these lessons should be the responsibility of child’s parents…but we don’t live in the perfect world. If we continue to rely on the household to teach these essential skills, we’ll never break the generational pattern of the absent father. We need to teach the children that have no father, how to be a present mother or father, because without a father, they’ll likely never learn.