Ask any child: Nothing compares to a father’s love. Kids benefit from involved fathers.
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 a 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:
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.
*If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, there are a number of websites and organizations with excellent resources for you. HelpGuide is a great place to start, along with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention by dialing 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
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