With Father's Day right around the corner, it's nice to hear stories about fathers who are making a difference in their children's lives. But did you know that just having a father in your life makes a difference? It's true. There is a host of research showing the benefits fathers have on their children compared to children in father-absent homes. Unfortunately, having absent fathers is becoming a bigger and bigger trend in America. It's a trend that people are calling "Fatherless America."
Fatherless America: The Numbers
If you haven't heard the term "Fatherless America," you might be in for a shock. Here's why: According to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2010 data, approximately 1/3 of children in the U.S. live in father-absent homes. And that number may be growing. In the same report, it shows that nearly half of all children born in 2010 are born to single mothers.
The Downsides of Fatherless America
Some people wonder if it's such a bad thing to have so many single mothers. After all, single mothers are capable and strong and have shown that they can raise children on their own just fine. But while single mothers truly are remarkable, capable and strong figures, the truth is that fathers have a positive effect on children that mothers just can't replace. In fact, children in father-absent homes are more at risk for certain things than children in father-present homes.
For example, in the book, "Why Fathers Count" by Sean Brotherson and Joseph White, the authors detail research that shows children from father-absent homes are much more likely to be living in poverty and also reliant on some form of public assistance. These children are also more likely to have lower educational attainment, practice unsafe sexual practices, be more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol and also have poorer health outcomes such as obesity. Children who were born in homes without fathers were also more at risk for child abuse and incarceration.
The Benefit of Fathers
However, children with active fathers in their lives were shown to have many positive outcomes. Children with active fathers present have fewer incidences of depression, are at less risk for eating disorders, have better social skills, higher educational attainment and higher scores on measures of self-esteem. These children with active fathers were also shown to score higher on certain developmental milestones. Lastly, children who grew up with active fathers in their home were shown to have stronger gender identity than their counterparts with absent or less active fathers.
So this Father's Day, be sure to thank your father for the many good things he gave you. And just having him around is reason enough to give him thanks. After all, there are a lot of children out there who don't have one.
Aaron Anderson is a therapist and Director of The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. He is a writer, speaker and relationship expert. Checkout his blog for expert information on how to improve your relationship.