Critical Role of Fathers

Jun 15, 2024 at 11:56 am by WGNS

An On Ed thought from JC Bowman, executive director of the Professional Educators of Tennessee

In the United States, the presence of a father in a child's life is a critical systemic issue. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2023, 17.8 million children, nearly 1 in 4, will live without a biological, step, or adoptive father in the home. Research shows that a father's absence negatively impacts children, while a father's presence positively influences both children and mothers.


In this era of fatherlessness, we confront the harsh reality of its aftermath. We witness individuals who are discarded, shattered, left to fend for themselves, and meandering aimlessly, like souls adrift in a vast sea. The absence of fathers' involvement has been proven to contribute to detrimental emotional, social, academic, and behavioral outcomes for children. Research has shown that the most accurate indicator of criminal behavior is not poverty or race but rather the absence of a father figure during childhood.

Yet, we also witness the incredible transformation that father involvement can bring. We see individuals who, with the unwavering support of their fathers, are empowered, resilient, and self-assured in facing life's trials. The impact of fathers and father figures is profound.

Fathers play a critical role in child development. When both parents are involved, infants form attachments to both. Father involvement positively affects infant health and leads to better outcomes for children. Children with involved fathers are more likely to succeed academically and less likely to engage in risky behaviors. Father engagement reduces behavioral problems in boys and rates of depression in young women.

Children with active, involved fathers enjoy tremendous advantages during childhood and adolescence. Fathers must be active and emotionally engaged with their children. Positive father involvement yields numerous benefits, while a father's absence can be profoundly detrimental. The lasting impact of a father on a child's life is undeniable.

Former President George W. Bush addressed the issue in office: "Over the past four decades, fatherlessness has emerged as one of our greatest social problems. We know that children who grow up with absent fathers can suffer lasting damage. They are more likely to end up in poverty, drop out of school, become addicted to drugs, have a child out of wedlock, or end up in prison. Fatherlessness is not the only cause of these things but our nation must recognize that it is an important factor." The issue has likely grown worse.

Researchers have found these narratives accurate, as Psychology Today reported. The impact of a father's absence on children is nothing short of disastrous across various dimensions. The absence of fathers in children's lives can lead to multiple adverse outcomes, including diminished self-concept, behavioral problems, truancy, poor academic performance, delinquency, promiscuity, drug and alcohol abuse, homelessness, exploitation and abuse, physical and mental health issues, limited life chances, challenges in future relationships, and increased mortality rates.

Our public policies frequently fail to recognize the vital role of parents in children's lives and the significance of parental involvement in their well-being. Children need access to both parents, and parents require support from social institutions to fulfill their responsibilities towards their children. Children need fathers and mothers to love, support, and understand them.

Fathers should be knowledgeable, active, and emotionally engaged with their children. They should remember to always speak positively about the mother in front of their children, define their role as a father, establish regular one-on-one time with each child, and share stories from their own lives to strengthen their bond with their children. Make sure to actively participate in your child's social, educational, and spiritual activities.

Becoming a father is a significant milestone, and regardless of biological ties, being a father entails a lifelong commitment. It's essential for fathers to actively participate in their children's lives, whether they live with them or not. Let's encourage fathers to recognize their importance in their children's lives and the meaningful influence they possess. A father plays a crucial role in a child's future success in education, career, and relationships. This Father’s Day let's urge all men who are fathers, stepfathers, adoptive fathers, or father figures to remain involved in their children's lives.

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