The role of the father, a male figure in a child’s life is a very crucial role that has been diminishing over the years. An absent father can be defined in two ways; the father is physically not present, or the father is physically present, but emotionally present. To an adolescent, a father is an idolized figure, someone they look up to (Feud, 1921), thus when such a figure is an absent one, it can and will negatively affect a child’s development. Many of the problems we face in society today, such as crime and delinquency, poor academic achievement, divorce, drug use, early pregnancy and sexual activity can be attributed to fathers being absent during adolescent development (Popenoe, 1996; Whitehead, 1993). The percentage of adolescents growing up fatherless has risen from 17% to 36% in just three decades between 1960 and 1990 (Popenoe, 1996). Dr. Popenoe estimates this number will increase to approximately 50% by the turn of the century (Popenoe, 1996). The US Census Bureau reported out of population of 24 million children, 1 out 3 live in a home without a father (US Census Bureau, 2009). The role of a father is more than just another parent at home (Popenoe, 1996). Having a father, the male biological parent in a child’s life is important because it brings a different type of parenting that cannot be replicated by anyone else (Stanton, 2010). Fathers who are present and active in a child’s life provide great benefits to a developing child (Popenoe, 1996). Having a father brings a different kind of love. The love of the father is more expectant and instrumental, different from the love of a mother (Stanton, as cited in Pruett, 1987). The effect of an absent father can be quite devastating to the developing adolescent. In a longitudinal study on the impact of divorced children who did not share a close relationship with their fathers conducted by Judith Wallerstein, results showed the effect of losing a parent during the period of adolescence to be severe,...
Links: teen drug use, relationship with father”, 1999). The National Fatherhood Initiative (2004) reported “In a study of 6,500 children from the ADDHEALTH database, father closeness was negatively correlated with the number of a child’s friends who smoke, drink, and smoke marijuana. Closeness was also correlated with a child’s use of alcohol, cigarettes, and hard drugs and was connected to family structure. Intact families ranked higher on father closeness than single-parent families” (p. 20-22). Obesity in adolescents is another serious problem that results from father absence. In a survey conducted by The National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, adolescents suffering from childhood obesity are more likely to come from a home without a father. Strauss, and Knight J. reported “Children who lived with single mothers were significantly more likely to become obese by a 6-year follow-up, as were black children, children with nonworking parents, children with nonprofessional parents, and children whose mothers did not complete high school” (Strauss, Knight J.).
The presence of a father is vital to the educational development of adolescents. A survey on child health by the US Department of Health and Human Services reported that children who come from fatherless homes are twice as likely to drop out of school (“A Survey on Child Health, 1993). The involvement of a father is also very important to the success of an adolescent’s educational career and goals. A father who is present and highly involved in an adolescent’s life, whether they are biological fathers, step fathers, or a father leading a single parent household increases the likelihood of a child getting superior marks in their classes. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that children with highly involved fathers received A’s through 12th grade, while only 35.2% of children who were fatherless received A’s in their school marks (“The National Center for Education Statistics, 1999). McBride, Brent A., Sara K., Sullivan, and Ho-Ho (2005) reported about the achievement levels in a adolescent who grows up with a father, “A study of 1330 children from the PSID showed that fathers who are involved on a personal level with their child schooling increases the likelihood of their child 's achievement. When fathers assume a positive role in their child 's education, students feel a positive impact.” (p. 201-216). Children who do not grow up in a two parent homes, are more likely to fail and repeat a grade in school. It is also important to note that children who grow up in single parent families are less likely to have parents involved with the school, 62% of children with two parent homes have parents that are involved in school, while children from single parent homes have half of them involved in school (Nord, Winquist, West, 2001).
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