Fathers are needed. It is obvious to even the most casual observer that a good father figure is needed in a child’s life. There are clubs and organizations that provide youth with men to assist in guiding them. If you boil it down, that is what the largest youth organization, the Boy Scouts (which spans 216 countries) provides. Yes, there are always two sides to the coin, let’s look at both so we can see the effects a father has on a family.
First, the negative so we can end on the positive.
Blue Ridge Counseling reported in 2020 that:
- 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (US Dept. Of Health/Census) – 5 times the average.
- 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes – 32 times the average.
- 85% of all children who show behavior disorders come from fatherless homes – 20 times the average. (Center for Disease Control)
- 80% of rapists with anger problems come from fatherless homes –14 times the average. (Justice & Behavior, Vol 14, p. 403-26)
- 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes – 9 times the average. (National Principals Association Report)
One additional point I found interesting, researchers and psychologists are studying mass shootings, “By Spring of 2022 there had been 250 mass shootings which had killed more than 256 people and injured 1,010 through the end of May. Many of the young male perpetrators had problems going on at home. Whether the father was physically or mentally absent the shooters were lacking a father. Mass shooters have been known to have a mental illness, delinquent behavior, and violent tendencies. They also frequently do not attend school, hate it, or are failing out. These are all problems shown to be caused by an absent father.” The Long-term Consequences of Growing Up Without a Father (urbanlight.org)
A Longer List of Positives
I’m not big on guilt and I don’t want you men to feel that you are the cause of all the world’s problems. I want you to see how wonderful you are. Here’s a longer list of positives, the good things that are seen from having a father in the home.
This list is from The National Fatherhood Initiative released in 2015: Father Absence Statistics (fatherhood.org)
- Better able to control their emotions – these children were less likely to have emotional or behavioral problems and four times less likely to have a mood disorder.
- Better physical health – children with involved fathers were less likely to be overweight and 2 times less likely to die as infants.
- Healthier relationships – a good, involved father’s views affect what his daughter looks for in a boyfriend or husband. His views affect what kind of dad or husband his son will become.
- Feel safe and confident – children are safer when their dad lives with them. Children that grow up without a father are at a greater risk of child abuse.
- Less likely to use drugs and alcohol – children who abuse drugs and alcohol do so because they lack the love and connection a father and other family members provide.
- Perform better in school – when a father is present children are more likely to get A’s, 2 times less likely to repeat a grade and less likely to have behavioral problems in school.
- Less likely to be poor – when a father is present children are 4 times less likely to live in poverty.
- More likely to stay out of trouble – fathers play an important role in keeping children from taking harmful risks and committing crimes.
You Don’t Need to be Perfect, Just Present
I want you to realize that a father doesn’t have to be perfect, the studies are based on whether or not a dad is present, a part of the family, involved in raising the kids. It isn’t something that even takes a lot of effort.
Ask children, talk to adults, what is a favorite memory of spending time with their dad as a kid. You will quite often learn that it is sitting and watching tv with him. Today’s kids may bring up playing a computer game. This is something you want to do anyway! It doesn’t even have to be cartoons. Yes, my dad was a good sport, he watched Winnie the Pooh with me, but we also watched a lot of John Wayne. In fact, enough that I can still quote many of the lines, and it was all from watching them as a child with my dad.
Easy Ways to be a Better Dad
Here’s a quick list of 10 ways to be a better dad from the National Father Initiative 10 Ways To Be a Better Dad (fatherhood.org)
- Respect your children’s mother. When children see their parents respecting each other, they are more likely to feel they are also accepted and respected.
- Spend time with your children. Children spell “love”: T-I-M-E.
- Listen first, talk second. Take time and listen to your children’s ideas and problems. Listening helps them feel respected and understood.
- Discipline with love. Fathers who discipline in a calm and fair manner show love to their children.
- Be a role model. Fathers can teach sons what is important in life by demonstrating honesty, humility, and responsibility.
- Be a teacher. Involved fathers use everyday examples to help their children learn the basic lessons of life.
- Eat together as a family. It is also a good time for fathers to listen.
- Read to your children. Instilling your children with a love for reading is one of the best ways to ensure they will have a lifetime of growth. (Personal note, if you can’t read or have difficulties reading, learn with your child! My grandfather was unable to finish school and had a rough time reading. As a child, we studied reading together and helped each other work our way through learning to read books. It’s one of my favorite memories.)
- Show affection. Showing affection every day is the best way to let your children know that you love them.
- Realize a father’s job is never done. Fathers continue to play an essential part in the lives of their children as they grow and, perhaps, marry and build their own families.
Simply Do What You Enjoy with Them!
As you can see, it’s really not hard. Watch some tv, play some computer games, read a book, eat some food, kiss their mom; these are all things you probably want to do anyway. You are wonderful because you are there in their lives, you can be awesome by actively participating!