What We’re Following Today August 26, 2020
Let’s look at the role of the father these days. In much of the media you may hear about the desire to break the traditional nuclear family makeup which can often mean that the role of the father gets overlooked, questioned and often ignored. I was raised by a single mom for a good portion of my childhood and I frankly don’t know how she did it, but she did amazing. She kept my brother and I focused (for the most part) while having to work to support us financially and emotionally. While my brother and I were likely better off outside of an environment of conflict (I was too young when my parents split to know the whole story), my brother an I likely lost out on some things not having our dad present. Our dad was a good guy, but as a career military man, he was oft transferred into different parts of the country and we all just didn’t see each other frequently.
My mom remarried and while my stepfather and I butted heads when I was younger, as I aged I could see past our differences and see the value in the man who was there. He’s really a great guy with a big heart and he gave me an example of what a male energy in the home can be - the importance of having a guy around. In the moment as a kid I may not have seen it, but today as a father I can. Men play a vital role as fathers and husbands and when we are around, active and positive, our kids have a much better chance of success and stability later in life. The key though is finding ways to calm our negative qualities and build up our positive ones. Example: we are inherently more aggressive, and while that can be great in some things, it can also lead to anger issues and some serious patience issues.
But while today we hear a lot about the negative energy we bring to a family unit, it’s often unpopular to call out how important having a strong father figure is in the life of our country’s children. Men have the capacity to ruin a child but have an even greater capacity to build a child up with higher self esteem. Here are some links to some articles that talk through some links to positive outcomes when fathers are present and active in the lives of their children. (Note: multiple variables contribute to the success of a child - not just ONE like fathers, but when you see solid stats over multiple studies and generations, it is important to note where positive relationships between factors exist - rather than question whether or not other elements have a greater impact (i.e., wealth, geography or education) we should look at data like this and ask “why” it is so important and then figure out methods to help men become the fathers they should be (i.e., seek positive counsel in places like churches, getting involved in community, volunteering, etc.)).
Involved Dads Have Positive Impacts on Children
This piece from the University of Texas calls out some of the stats cited in different research studies. Some examples they find - children of involved dads are 2 times as likely to go to college or find steady employment after high school, 75% LESS likely to have a teen birth, 80% LESS likely to spend time in jail, 39% more likely to earn A’s (infographic: https://childandfamilyresearch.utexas.edu/sites/default/files/TXFS17_Poster1.pdf).
Fathers have nearly tripled the amount of time they are spending with their kids since the 1960’s. Even those fathers who are in co-parenting situations and not living together or in romantic relationships show positive outcomes when they are more involved in their kids lives. But being an involved dad is not necessarily genetic as many behaviors can be learned or trained. So this begs the question - when does the training need to start? Children with fathers in the home / involved fathers get that training all the time, but how about the young men without a father present? And also, how about those men who consistently fail to live up to the standard we need from today’s fathers. Good news is that many states are coming up with programming to help train tomorrow’s fathers.
For more info on some of the things the University of Texas called out on 5 things you should know about the importance of fathers, click this link: https://childandfamilyresearch.utexas.edu/5-things-you-should-know-about-importance-fathers
A Couple of Books
Parents Magazine had a nice article about two books underscoring the importance of fathers in the development of their children. Essentially they call out that fathers who spend time with their daughters are helping to make sure they grow up confident and strong, AND how fathers and mothers need to work together and support each other’s differences in how they handle kids.
The Man Who Would Be Dad, Hogan Hilling
Dads and Daughters, Joe Kelly
AVVO’s List of 10 Surprising Stats on Importance of Fathers
Here’s a couple of stats from their blog post:
85% of youths sitting in jail grew up in a home without a father.
Children without fathers are four times more likely to have emotional or behavioral problems that require assistance.
Approximately 75% of teenage suicides occur in a home where one parent is absent.
Here’s a link to a document that the AVVO post references: https://thefatherlessgeneration.wordpress.com/statistics/
Here’s a link to some stats on parentspluskids.com: https://parentspluskids.com/blog/fatherhood-statistics-trends-and-analysis
Example of one of their stats: In 1960 only 9.1% of children were living with a single parent; by 2012 the number had risen to 20.7% of all children (source).