The typical father of earlier generations was seen as the breadwinner and the disciplinarian. He may be an absent father in the sense that he worked all day and only came home at night. This is true both in the Eastern and Western hemispheres. The traditional father figure in China, for example, is one who can be trusted to provide for the family’s needs and the new-age dad who gets involved in child-rearing is seen by older Chinese men as weak and effeminate.
But times have changed. Modern women choose to have children without marrying the fathers. The absent father is now defined as those who are not married to the mothers of their kids and those who are divorced. Divorce too is accepted and allowed in almost all countries. In other words, we are talking about fathers who are physically absent from the home on a regular basis.
While unhealthy relationships should not be continued only for the sake of the children nor should pregnancy be a reason for a couple to marry, it is also true that kids who grow up without a father around generally are more problematic than those who have a good father figure to guide them.
The Negative Effects of an Absent Father on Children
They have more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems.
They are more aggressive than children in two-parent households and are three times more likely to have problems with friendships. They are prone to exhibit more antisocial behavior.
Boys are more hostile towards adults and other children and destructive of property.
They are at higher risk for depression and low self-esteem, and are more irresponsible.
They do not do as well in school as children who are living with both parents.
Children who grow up without a father figure fare worse in tests on reading, mathematics and thinking skills. They have difficulty with teacher-student relationships and get poorer grades. But children living with biological fathers, stepfathers and single fathers do better in academics than fatherless kids.
They have an increased risk for getting involved in crimes and getting themselves in jail.
A study of juvenile offenders showed that most of them live in mother-only households. Teenagers also have a 25% higher chance of committing offenses.
They are more likely to become parents themselves at an early age and have higher chances for divorce.
Girls who grow up without a father figure have a higher chance of teen pregnancy and early marriage while boys become fathers by the age of 22.
They are more likely to start smoking and drinking alcohol earlier than children in two-parent households. They are also more likely to do drugs.
Children who grow up without their fathers start smoking at 15 and 16 years old, drinking alcoholic beverages at 16 and 18 years old, and twice as likely to have tried drugs at 15 years of age.
They have more health problems.
Children from one-parent homes suffer more from obesity, asthma, headaches, gastrointestinal problems and have lower immune systems than their peers living with both mother and father.
They are more likely to be poorer in their adult lives.
Children without fathers are poorer as adults. They have less employment opportunities because of lower educational achievements and poorer psychosocial skills.
How to Solve the Father Absence Issue
Unless legal issues are involved, the solution to father absence is easier. Fathers who are not living with the mothers of their children because they are not married or are divorced from their wives should reach out and develop a good relationship with the mothers so that they are allowed more involvement in raising their child. In divorce cases, shared parenting should be the goal and the child’s needs should be the priority so that parent absence is minimized as much as possible and children grow up in homes that mimic a two-parent arrangement.