Without even realizing it, kids take much of what they have in their lives for granted. School, food on the table, toys to entertain themselves with and perhaps most commonly, having a mother and father who love them. What these little tykes don’t realize is that not all kids are that lucky. The fact is, be it death, incarceration, abandonment or access restrictions post parental separation, many kids grow up without a father or with little father input.
According to spig.clara.net, snapshots in time reveal that in 1961, only 11 percent were lone parent families whereas by 2004, that number rose to 25 percent. Of those lone parent families in 2004, 81 percent were headed by women. That is not to say that the other parent was not available, but the care for the children fell disproportionately on the women within those families.
But what of children growing up without a father?
In an article asking what fathers are for, Professor Michael Lamb, Head of the Department of Social and Development Psychology at the University of Cambridge, identifies some potential negative outcomes of father absence on children as:
> psychological maladjustment
> academic / school under-performance
> antisocial behaviour
> difficulty establishing and continuing intimate relationships
Professor Lamb is quick to point out that it is not just having a father in the picture that mitigates those potential outcomes, but their role in contributing to the economic needs of their children and support to the other parent.
And what of growing up with a father?
As well as providing nurturance, a father’s involvement at earlier ages is protective against mental health issues in adolescence, explain Eirini Flouri and Ann Buchanan in their article, “The Role of Father Involvement in Children’s Later Mental Health," which was published in the Journal of Adolescence.
While little has been said in popular books and magazines about the relationship between fathers and sons, even less has been scientifically researched on the subject. As such, a lot of information pertaining to the role of fathers in a son’s life is anecdotal, often surmised on the basis of the clinical experience of social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists.