So where is dad on this Father’s Day, and does he still matter? According to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 12 million single parent families in America, 80% of which are headed by single moms. Other data from the Child Trends Data Bank shows that 4 out of 10 children are born to single moms.
Although these moms do the very best they can to raise children who are healthy both in body and spirit, statistics for children growing up in father-absent homes are sobering. Here are just a few, as researched and compiled by the National Fatherhood Initiative®:
A child growing up without a dad is:
- Four times more likely to live in poverty.
- More likely to suffer behavioral problems.
- More likely to go to prison.
- More likely to become pregnant as a teen.
- Two times more likely to drop out of high school.
Dad does matter, and Fathers Day is a great time to remember just how important a good one is in the life of his child, whether he is still with the mother or not. Fathers Day is a time for giving gifts to dad, but an involved dad who is an influence for good is really the one giving gifts to his child, every day and all year long. Here are 3 that we think are critical.
Emotional SecurityEven from birth, children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident to explore their surroundings, and, as they grow older, have better social connections. Having an involved dad gives a child confidence, and playing with their dad (in the fun-and-tumble way only a father can play with a child) helps a small child learn how to regulate their own feelings and behavior (Oliker). Common sense tells us that it warms a child to know their dad cares for them and wants to be in their life.
Better Physical Health
Psychologists have noted that kids with a dad in their lives are much less likely to complain of largely psychosomatic health symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, and miscellaneous aches and pains (Kruk). This leads to less absenteeism from school and the prospects for a better future. In addition, when a child knows who their father is, they also know their family health history and what types of illnesses they may be susceptible to. A child with an involved father is less likely to be obese or get involved with drugs and alcohol (National Fatherhood Initiative).
A Complete Sense of Self
We all need a ‘tribe,’ whether it be coworkers, friends, family, or all of the above. As human beings, we want to be around and belong to a group that we can identify with. Family is a child’s first tribe. According to The Father Code, a support website for dads, father absence in many ways steals our birthright; it takes from us our inherent and natural internal structures. In other words, not having a dad present in the life of a child deprives the child of 50% of their first tribe . . . aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents from their father’s side of the family.
The Bottom Line
As a top Paternity Test lab performing thousands of DNA tests a month, we hear stories from our customers every day. They want to find out who the biological father of a child is-not just for legal reasons such as custody-but because at a deep-down, visceral level most of us understand how important that paternal connection is and how it affects the life of a child now and for the rest of their life.
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“Births to Unmarried Women.” Child Trends. Child Trends, 14 Dec. 2015. Web. 01 June 2016. <http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=births-to-unmarried-women>.
“Families and Living Arrangements.” Family Groups (FG Table Series). U.S. Census Bureau, 2015. Web. 01 June 2016. <http://www.census.gov/hhes/families/data/cps2014FG.html>.
Kruk, Edward, Ph.D. “Father Absence, Father Deficit, Father Hunger.”Psychology Today. Psychology Today, 23 May 2012. Web. 01 June 2016. <http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/co-parenting-after-divorce/201205/father-absence-father-deficit-father-hunger>.
Oliker, Ditta M., Ph.D. “The Importance of Fathers.” Psychology Today. Psychology Today, 23 June 2011. Web. 01 June 2016. <http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-long-reach-childhood/201106/the-importance-fathers>.
Sanders, Ryan. “The Father Absence Crisis in America [Infographic].” The Father Absence Crisis in America [Infographic]. National Fatherhood Initiative, 12 Nov. 2013. Web. 01 June 2016. <http://www.fatherhood.org/The-Father-Absence-Crisis-in-America>.
Thurston, Robert.”The 9 Devastating Effects Of The Absent Father.” The Father Code. Martin Marketing, 24 June 2015. Web. 01 June 2016. <http://thefathercode.com/the-9-devastating-effects-of-the-absent-father/>.