Articles for Fathers

Everything listed under: absent

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    How Kids Benefit from Involved Fathers

    Ask any child: Nothing compares to a father’s love. 

    Out of 20,000 essays by school-age kids about what their father meant to them, there was a common theme. Whether their father lived in the home or not, they all wanted time with their father.

    The CDC released findings from a nationally representative sample of 3,928 fathers aged 15 to 44 about their parental involvement. It looked at four specific areas of involvement that have been linked to positive outcomes for children: eating meals with their children, bathing, diapering or dressing the children, playing with and reading to their children.

    The findings indicate that 1 in 6 fathers does not live with his children. Also, non-residential fathers are less likely to spend regular time with their children. This is disturbing when you consider that father involvement has been proven to positively affect child’s well-being in many areas, including: increasing chances of academic success and reducing chances of delinquency and substance abuse.

    Furthermore, children whose fathers assumed 40 percent or more of the family’s care tasks achieved better academically than children whose fathers were less involved.

    For children under age 5:

    • 96 percent of residential fathers ate meals with their children every day or several times a week compared to 30 percent of non-residential fathers;
    • 98 percent played with children (39 percent for fathers not living with their children);
    • 90 percent bathed, diapered or dressed their children every day or several times a week (31 percent for non-residential fathers); and
    • 60 percent read to their children often, compared to 23 percent of fathers not living in the home.

    The differences in involvement were also evident for school-age children.

    Fathers who lived with their children were twice as likely as nonresidential fathers to think they were doing a very good job in their role.

    Studies show that children can thrive without their father, BUT life is much more complicated and the chance that children will struggle is significantly greater.

    The last two decades have produced significant research indicating that fathers play a very important role in their kids' lives. Children who live apart from their biological fathers are, on average, at least two to three times more likely to:

    • Be poor,
    • Use drugs,
    • Experience educational, health, emotional and behavioral problems,
    • Be victims of child abuse, and
    • Engage in criminal behavior more than their peers who live with their married, biological (or adoptive) parents.

    Research also indicates that 90 percent of homeless and runaway children, 71 percent of high school dropouts and 63 percent of young people who commit suicide are from fatherless homes.

    Whether you live in the home with your child or not, don’t deceive yourself about your impact on their lives. The father-child relationship is a gift.

    What would happen if you intentionally tried to build this relationship? Would fewer children live in poverty? Would unwed pregnancies decrease? Might there be less involvement in gangs, criminal behavior, risky sexual behavior or drugs and alcohol?

    Your children are worth the investment of time and energy. Be more engaged with your children today.

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    What If Katy Perry is Wrong?

    In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Katy Perry discusses wanting a baby someday. She says,

    “ ...but I need to really be able to focus 100 percent of my attention on it. I don't really want to take the child on tour. Not until, like, birth through five is over."

    She then adds that it doesn’t really matter if there is a guy in the picture or not.

    “I don’t need a dude ... it’s 2014! We are living in the future; we don’t need anything … I’m not anti-men. I love men. But there is an option if someone doesn’t present himself.”

    It’s pretty clear that Perry wants to be a great mom, but she thinks that having an active father in the life of her child is optional. With reams of research indicating dads are not just an accessory, it would be interesting to talk with children with absent fathers to see if they agree with Perry.

    There is a great deal of information about what helps children thrive. Research across disciplines shows that children do better when they are raised with their mother and father.

    “Some of the toughest athletes I know lose it when you talk with them about their father,” says Carey Casey, Ambassador for Fathers at the National Center for Fathering. “There has never been a guy who said to me, 'I don’t want to see my dad; I don’t need a father.' Usually, they say, ‘I would give it all up to meet my dad for just a moment.’”

    The last two decades have produced significant research indicating that children who live absent their biological fathers are, on average:

    • at least two to three times more likely to be poor, to use drugs, to experience educational, health, emotional and behavioral problems;

    • to be victims of child abuse, and

    • to engage in criminal behavior more than their peers who live with their married, biological (or adoptive) parents.

    Additional research indicates that 90 percent of homeless and runaway children, 71 percent of high school dropouts and 63 percent of young people who commit suicide are from fatherless homes.

    While it is highly unlikely that Perry’s child would be financially poor, wealth does not replace the hole in a child’s heart from growing up fatherless. Times have changed, but the reality is, you still can’t make a baby without a man being involved. How then would society come to the conclusion that children don’t need their father?

    Does Perry’s kind of thinking perpetuate the problem?

    Men have heard women say they aren’t necessary, and media often portrays men as bumbling idiots. Perhaps they actually believe they aren’t necessary. The message is quite confusing when on the one hand society is asking men to step up and be the fathers their children need them to be, and on the other hand they are told they just create problems and make life more complicated.

    “Ultimately, a child will ask, ‘Who is my dad?’” Casey says. “It is in our DNA to want to know where we came from.”

    Who stands to lose the most when one intentionally decides to have a child with no father in the picture - the adult or the child? 

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    Being an Involved Single Father

    Jeff* celebrated his first Father’s Day when his daughter was 9-months-old, and he is thankful for that day with her. Jeff is a single father who shares custody of his daughter with his ex.

    “Our relationship ended shortly before our child was born,” says Jeff. “Things were crazy. I am an industrial engineer and teach people how to build cars for a living. I knew nothing about going to court and all that would be involved with being able to see my child.”

    Since he wanted to be an active father even before his child was born, Jeff took a class for new fathers through First Things First, along with other classes.

    “In spite of the circumstances, I did not want to be an absent father,” Jeff says. “My ex was very nervous about me taking care of our child by myself. There was a lot of tension in our relationship. Through a series of events, I ended up in the Dads Making a Difference class. That was a real game-changer.”

    In addition to learning communication and conflict management skills, Jeff found out more about the importance of a father’s involvement with his child. Plus, he learned what it meant to protect and serve both his child and her mother.

    “From the time I began the class to now, the transformation in the relationship between me and my ex has been amazing,” Jeff says. “A personality inventory we took in class helped me to understand her better, which led me to handle situations differently. The response surprised me. We have moved away from supervised visitation. In addition to getting more visitation time with my daughter, she spends every other weekend with me and that is pure joy.”

    In Jeff's opinion, being a first-time father and learning about caring for a baby has been a steep learning curve, but worth every minute.

    “I love spending time with my daughter,” Jeff says. “I want to nurture her in a way that will allow her to thrive. Being an engineer, I love math and science but I also love art and music. I sing to her a lot and enjoy playing with her, and watching her develop her motor skills. I can’t wait for her to walk.”

    Believe it or not, Jeff is an exception to the rule.

    In 2014, 17.4 million children in the U.S. were growing up in a home without their biological father. Moreover, data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing survey indicates that a third of non-residential fathers had no contact with their child five years after birth. Jeff has no intention of becoming a part of this statistic.

    Through various circumstances, including divorce and unwed births, there are many men who are missing out on the gift of a relationship with their child. While it can be complicated, unnerving and extremely challenging, don’t underestimate a child's need for a healthy father's involvement. Literally thousands of credible studies show that children need mom and dad engaged in their lives.

    So, if you're actively involved with your children, consider yourself blessed. On the flip side, if you are estranged from your children, remember that you can still make a change regarding that relationship.

    For more information on the importance of fathers, download our E-book, "Why Being a Dad is a BIG Deal." Download Here

    *Name changed.


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    Dads, Daughters and Valentine's Day

    Dad, don’t forget an important woman in your life on Valentine’s Day – your daughter.

    It’s never too early to establish a Valentine’s tradition to express your love to your daughter. A father’s love profoundly impacts a girl, and many believe that a woman takes her relationship with her father (good or bad) to the grave.

    The father/daughter relationship plays an integral role in a young girl's life. It can even give her the self-confidence to deal with challenging life issues. When fathers are not engaged, however, the opposite happens. Research shows the girls often struggle with abandonment issues, lack of self-esteem and feelings of unworthiness. They’re also especially vulnerable to predators.

    Many women who grow up without a father will float through life, looking for someone to fill that void. Girls who grow up with absent fathers are at greater risk for experiencing problems in school, abusing drugs and alcohol and participating in risky sexual behavior. In fact, adolescent girls without fathers are twice as likely to be involved in early sexual activity - and they're seven times more likely to get pregnant as a teen.

    However, having an active father reduces the risk of early puberty, risky sexual behavior and teen pregnancy. Additionally, strong father/daughter relationships impact a daughter’s ability to trust and relate to men in a healthy way. Daughters who have a healthy bond with their father tend to be more self-reliant and confident and less likely to develop eating disorders. They also tend to perform better in school.

    The father/daughter bond is even more important when the father and daughter live in different households.

    One woman recalls how special Valentine’s Day was for her as a child. She knew her father would give her a chocolate heart every year. When her father divorced her mother and left, the Valentine’s tradition ended and left her with only memories. Decades later, she still wonders why he quit giving her the Valentine heart.

    Keep in mind that little things can mean a lot to daughters. Even traditions such as weekly conversations, writing notes to each other or a daddy/daughter date can strengthen that special bond.

    It is important for girls without an active father to have a good, positive and strong male role model in their lives. Think about doing something special for these young girls. Perhaps you could include them in your own family or community activities.

    No matter what kind of father you are - traditional, long-distance, stepdad, grandfather, uncle or other father figure - your involvement impacts these young women. Reach out each Valentine’s Day and strengthen the bond you have with your girl.

    For more information on the importance of fathers, download our E-book "Why Being a dad is a BIG Deal" Download Here

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    Dealing With Anger From Having an Absent Father

    In 2014, NBA superstar LeBron James posted a picture of himself, and an open letter to his father, on Instagram:

    “Like wow dad, you know what, I don’t know you, I have no idea who you are but because of you is part of the reason who I am today. The fuel that I use — you not being there — it’s part of the reason I grew up to become who I am. It’s part of the reason why I want to be hands on with my endeavors … So me in a position allowing people around me to grow that maybe wouldn’t have happened if I had two parents, two sisters, a dog and a picket fence, you know?”

    His Instagram comment: “Because of you Pops! Thanks all along. Could have said why me with u not being there but look what I made of myself.”

    In spite of the “thanks,” reading between the lines one could hear sarcasm, pain and anger about his father’s absence.

    “I can so identify with where LeBron is coming from,” says Kenneth Braswell, executive director of Fathers Incorporated. “I am a black man whose pent-up rage for my absent father drove me to do what I believed to be the right thing, for the right reason and with the right justification. Then I found out it was all wrong.”

    Braswell believes, and research concurs, that there are hundreds of thousands of boys and men in America harboring pain and anger as a result of father absence.

    “The biggest lesson I have learned in life about my anger towards my father is: The more anger towards the past that I carry in my heart, the less capable I am of loving in the present,” says Braswell. “It is essential that fatherless sons are supported in multiple ways to address our pain and anger appropriately so we can be positive male role models for all children.”

    Braswell wants to help people deal with the pain and anger they feel. He offers these words of advice to those growing up without their father:

    • Acknowledge the anger. Many males put forth a tough exterior, but on the inside the anger is raging. Acknowledge it.
    • Embrace forgiveness. It takes a strong person to forgive someone they don’t feel deserves their forgiveness. When you don’t forgive, you allow pain to reside in your heart. Forgiveness gives the benefit of understanding and closure.
    • Embrace your heart. When you embrace your heart, you want to release anything that causes pain. The only way to do that is through love. You cannot do it through hate.
    • Communicate through transparency. You have to find a way to communicate your feelings, not just express them. A lot of what fatherless guys deal with is a result of not wanting to talk about what is happening on the inside. This really isn’t about the other person, it is about you releasing yourself in order to grow.

    “My goal is to be a positive role model for my son and other children,” Braswell says. “Every now and then, I felt like I had to tell the world I was OK.  And, that my father was insignificant in my life in order to suppress the fact that his absence was extremely significant in my life.

    “I will never be able to offer the world my best based on the hatred of another.  Especially not the hatred of my father.”

    For more information on the importance of fathers, download our E-book "Why Being a dad is a BIG Deal" Download Here