April 27, 2009
How a Father Figure Shapes a Child’s Life
Father’s, or some form of a father figure, play important roles in shaping a child’s life; there are many things that a child learns from their fathers at different stages in their life, fathers teach their children certain things that a mother cannot. It is extremely important that a child have a father, or some form of a father figure in their life; if a child is left without a father figure the odds will be stacked against them and make simple things in life difficult and things that would be hard by normal standards seem impossible.
The effects of not having a father or father figure can be noticed almost immediately for a child. Small children learn how to solve problems from their father, as well as how to get along with others. (Civitas) In fact, most of the things that we learn when we are little come from our fathers, not our mothers. If we never learn how to share or how to solve a simple problem when we are younger what will we do when we get older and are out of adolescence into adulthood? Fathers teach specific characteristics to their children and without these simple things a child’s life can truly be turned upside down by the time they reach adulthood. “It really is fathers who can have a major influence on helping their children build strong social relationships during childhood and later in life” (Civitas). A fatherless child automatically has the odds stacked against them for a much harder life. There was a study done that “found that primary school children scored higher on tests of empathy-the ability to see a situation from another person's viewpoint-if they had secure attachments to their fathers during infancy. These children were able to recognize how other children felt and took steps to make them feel better” (Civitas). Fathers are the ones that teach these traits to their children, if a child doesn’t learn how to solve a simple problem this could cause a huge problem later in life for the child as a teen or even into adulthood.
If a child continues on to their teen years without a father figure the effects of being fatherless will get more detrimental: “not having a father figure makes teens more vulnerable to mental or emotional problems, teen pregnancy, criminal behavior, and drug abuse” (Magellan Health Services). These are not all of the effects that growing up fatherless can cause but they are the most common and most easy to recognize among the different side effects. Of course there are differences if the father is present part time or completely absent or even if he is there physically but does not know how to emotionally be there for his child or children. There is also a difference of how it will affect the child depending on race, and even on how the family is economically. There are facts such as “: fatherless children are up to 10 times more likely to be economically disadvantaged, twice as likely to drop out of school, more likely to commit crimes or to behave antisocially, and 2 to 3 times more likely to have emotional problems.” As well as, “According to one study, 80 percent of imprisoned criminals come from fatherless homes as do 82 percent of pregnant teens. Fatherless children are also at a significantly increased risk for drug abuse as teenagers. For example, girls without fathers are 40 percent more likely to abuse drugs” (Magellan Health Services). Children that come from fatherless homes are more likely to go down the wrong path as they enter their teen years. The percentage of a child coming out of a fatherless home unscathed is slim to none; although it is not impossible.
Magellan Health Services also mentions that amount and level of involvement in a teen’s upbringing can affect the teen's mental well-being, perceptual abilities, and social skills. An adult in today’s society without any social skills will sink rapidly in today’s workforce. Having social skills is imperative for success in any work force; from waiting tables, to secretary, to being the CEO of a fortune five hundred company, social skills are one of the most important characteristics one needs to be successful and also one of the many things that a child learns from their father. In “The Role of the Father in the Family” the author states that having a good father child relationship can positively affect the child and how they do in school, and that it could also have a negative effect on the child as well. “School achievements in children
may be negatively effected in the absence of a good father-child relationship. Father influence can affect the choice of occupations, preferred school subjects, and role development of their children” (The Role of the Father in the Family). This shows that a father figure determines and influences the rest of that child’s life, fathers influence what a child will one day grow up to become.
I realize that not all children that come from fatherless homes or grow up with no father figure present in their lives’ will drop out of school, have teenage pregnancies, be incarcerated, abuse drugs and/or alcohol, abuse their children one day, grow up and be in poverty for the rest of their life, or have mental or emotional problems but the likely hood of this occurring is much higher. The percentage of incarcerated adults that come from fatherless homes is extremely high at 80 percent as well as teenage pregnancy at 82 percent: which shows that a large percentage of children and teens growing up fatherless are affected by it (Magellan Health Services).
All of the different effects that growing up without a father figure truly shocked me when I started to look further into the research, but what shocked me the most were the percentages of the effects of growing up fatherless and how much it could actually change your life from infancy even to teenage years for a child and lead them into adulthood heading in the wrong direction. The one fact that stuck out the most for me or that was most shocking to me was, “Of the 228 students studied, those from single-parent families reported higher rates of drinking and smoking as well as higher scores on delinquency and aggression tests when compared to boys from two-parent households” (National Fatherhood Initiative) I didn’t really think that only having one parent present in the home, not regarding if it were the mother of father, would have that much of an impact on a child’s life as then went into adult hood.
There are facts such as a child in a fatherless home are five times more likely to be poor when they grow up, mortality rates for women that are unwed are almost 2 times higher for infants, they have significantly higher odds of being incarcerated, and that there is a significantly higher rate of drug use in children without a father figure (National Fatherhood Initiative). Having a father figure is imperative to a child having any kind of success in their adulthood, whether it is in the work force, college, or even as they try to start a family and raise a child of their very own. Whether or not they had their father to guide them through life will influence a great deal of their decisions from their career path all the way to how they treat and raise their children.
It was also present that those teens with more active fathers are more compassionate later in life. A child having someone to look up to as their father is crucial to their upbringing in today’s society; the odds of a child coming from a fatherless background and having little to no affect is very unlikely, but not completely impossible either. The amount of interaction between the father and the child is just as important as having a father figure around.
In conclusion I believe that having a father figure is very important in the development of a child. A father figure will set the stage of child’s future as an adult and even affect how they will raise their family. One child having a father figure will influence the lives of their children and their grand children. Granted that not all children that grow up fatherless are going to suffer from all of the possible side effects but a great deal of the children that grow up without a father figure in their life are affected. Father’s play a huge role in what their child can and will do in their lifetime.
Civitas, "How Do Fathers Fit In?." Civitas: the Institute for the Study of Civil Society 22 Mar 2009
Magellan Health Services, "The Importance of Father Figures in a teen's life." 2009. Magellan Health Services, Inc. 22 Mar 2009
National Fatherhood Initiative, "The Father Factor: Facts of Fatherhood." National Fatherhood Initiative. 1994. National Fatherhood Initiative™. 22 Mar 2009
"The Role of the Father in the Family." 22 Mar 2009