Did you know that:
- 43% of U.S. children live without their father (U.S. Bureau of the Census).
- 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Bureau of the Census).
- 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes (U.S. Bureau of the Census).
- 85% of all children who show behavior disorders come from fatherless homes (Center for Disease Control).
- 80% of rapists with anger problems come from fatherless homes (Justice & Behavior, Vol 14, p. 403-26).
- 71% of pregnant teenagers lack a father (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services press release, March 26, 1999).
- 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes (National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools).
- 75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes (Rainbows for All God’s Children).
- 70% of youths in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes (U.S. Dept. of Justice, Sept. 1988).
- 85% of all youths in prison come from fatherless homes (Fulton Co. Georgia, Texas Department of Corrections, 1992).
- 61% of all child abuse is committed by biological mothers (Department of Health and Human Services Report on Nationwide Child Abuse).
More than 30 years of research continues to reveal the negative effects of divorce on children. Most of these measurable effects are calculated in increased risks. In other words, while divorce does not mean these effects will definitely occur, it does greatly increase the risks. Research comparing children of divorced parents to children with married parents shows:
· Children from divorced homes suffer academically. They experience high levels of behavioral problems. Their grades suffer, and they are less likely to graduate from high school.
· Kids whose parents divorce are substantially more likely to be incarcerated for committing a crime as a juvenile.
· Because the custodial parent’s income drops substantially after a divorce, children in divorced homes are almost five times more likely to live in poverty than are children with married parents.
· Teens from divorced homes are much more likely to engage in drug and alcohol use, as well as sexual intercourse than are those from intact families.
· Children from divorced homes experience illness more frequently and recover from sickness more slowly. They are also more likely to suffer child abuse.
· Children of divorced parents suffer more frequently from symptoms of psychological distress. And the emotional scars of divorce last into adulthood.
The scope of this last finding – children suffer emotionally from their parents’ divorce – has been largely underestimated. Obviously, not every child of divorce commits crime or drops out of school. Some do well in school and even become high achievers. However, we now know that even these children experience deep and lasting emotional trauma. For all children, their parents’ divorce colors their view of the world and relationships for the rest of their lives.
Girls that grow up with fathers tend to do better in school, have higher self-esteem and become more independent than their fatherless counterparts. The less fortunate girls who grow up without a father figure in their lives often go into the adult world with a specific set of psychological wounds that can create some serious struggles in their lives.
1. Depression: When a father leaves a daughter or becomes absent in her life, her natural reaction is often to blame herself and become fixated on her shortcomings that she believes resulted in him leaving. This can cause the daughter to have low self-esteem, which then affects many aspects of her life. This could mean lower performance in school and a general sense that she is unworthy. This negative sense of self often results in depression that may come and go throughout her life.
2. Promiscuity: Girls who did not get to fully experience the love of a father figure as a child may find themselves desperately seeking to connect with males in their teenage years to try to heal the wound. During these years and into adulthood, they may hope that physical closeness and sex can replace and satisfy the sense of connection that they seek. When they are not appreciated or valued by the males they become involved with, it can reinforce the belief that they are not worthy.
3. Failed Relationships: Fatherless girls often have a deeply ingrained fear of abandonment and rejection. To cope with these fears, they usually develop a fear of commitment as a defense mechanism. In relationships, these women often strive for emotional closeness but then run away when things are going perfectly well out of fear that they will be rejected, which would reopen the early wound of being “rejected” by her father. This can prevent them from ever having a successful permanent relationship with another male.
4. Addiction: One study showed that fatherless girls aged 12 to 17 were twice as likely to try drugs, alcohol and tobacco than their counterparts with both parents. An experience of emptiness or depression can lead these girls to “oversaturate” their experience, possibly to distract themselves from the negative feelings that are going on inside of them. Falling victim to an addiction can seriously damage her chances at education, a successful career and happiness in general.
In a study of 700 adolescents, researchers found that “compared to families with two natural parents living in the home, adolescents from single-parent families have been found to engage in greater and earlier sexual activity.”
Source: Carol W. Metzler, et al. “The Social Context for Risky Sexual Behavior Among Adolescents”, Journal of Behavioral Medicine 17 (1994).
“Fatherless children are at a dramatically greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, suicide, poor educational performance, teen pregnancy, and criminality.”
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Center for Health Statistics, Survey on Child Health, Washington, DC, 1993.
“Teenagers living in single-parent households are more likely to abuse alcohol and at an earlier age compared to children reared in two-parent households.”
Source: Terry E. Duncan, Susan C. Duncan and Hyman Hops, “The Effects of Family Cohesiveness and Peer Encouragement on the Development of Adolescent Alcohol Use: A Cohort-Sequential Approach to the Analysis of Longitudinal Data”, Journal of Studies on Alcohol 55 (1994).
“…the absence of the father in the home affects significantly the behavior of adolescents and results in the greater use of alcohol and marijuana.”
Source: Deane Scott Berman “Risk Factors Leading to Adolescent Substance Abuse”, Adolescence 30 (1995)
A study of 156 victims of child sexual abuse found that the majority of the children came from disrupted or single-parent homes; only 31 percent of the children lived with both biological parents. Although stepfamilies make up only about 10 percent of all families, 27 percent of the abused children lived with either a stepfather or the mother’s boyfriend.
Source: Beverly Gomes-Schwartz, Jonathan Horowitz, and Albert P. Cardarelli, “Child Sexual Abuse Victims and Their Treatment”, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justce and Delinquency Prevention.
Researchers in Michigan determined that “49 percent of all child abuse cases are committed by single mothers.”
Source: Joan Ditson and Sharon Shay, “A Study of Child Abuse in Lansing, Michigan”, Child Abuse and Neglect, 8 (1984).