A Father’s Greatest Role: Unconditional Love
There is no greater role model for a child than their father. A mother naturally has her own special place, but a father helps shape their child in an indelible way. There is a famous quote about the mark fathers leave on their children: “The heart of a father is the masterpiece of nature.” The absence of a father undeniably leaves a void in that child permanently; the space that the father could have filled with loving memories remains empty in that child without the input of love.
A child who grows up without a father, although the mother may provide a happy typical childhood, ends up with a void only a father can fill. Even though the child may be told it’s not his/her fault the parents aren’t together, children naturally place blame on themselves. The absence of a father lasts a lifetime and creates a void that can never be filled, no matter how much one tries to make up for it later in life.
As a father, you can make a difference in your child’s life by just simply showing up! Nothing fancy, no major trips or gifts, just simply being there. Besides the scientific benefits to the child having a father’s involvement, the father also receives many positive benefits, too. The negative consequences of an absent father are numerous and completely avoidable by choosing to be present.
Getting To Be There For Milestones
There is no greater joy than seeing your child accomplish a goal they’ve worked hard for, or celebrating being another year older. Being present for your children’s milestones shows them that you care and want to be in their life. It can also prevent delinquency and youth crime. According to research in Psychology Today, 85 percent of youth in prison have an absent father. They also found that fatherless children are more likely to offend and go to jail as adults. Send your children the message their father cares about them by being there for milestones, both big and small.
Making memories is not only special for your child, but special for the parent too! No one can replace the memory of seeing your child ride their bike for the first time, or take their first steps. The small memories usually end up being the big things in life.
Helping Raise Stable Kids
Research from Minnesota Psychological Association shows that children who grow up without a father “may come to resent paternal figures due to perceived abandonment. These feelings may burgeon from a lack of trust and result in a heightened sense of anger. As a child grows into adolescence and young adulthood, these problems may contribute to contact with the criminal justice system, use of illicit substances, as well as a variety of mental health problems.”
Mental health disorders have a high prevalence in children with absent fathers. These children are consistently overrepresented on a wide range of mental health problems, most notably anxiety, depression, and suicide.
Because of the high rate of mental health disorders in fatherless children, they are more likely to end up in therapy and have abandonment issues because of their father’s absence. By showing up when you say you will, and honoring promises to your children, helps to create kids who become stable adults.
Kids learn the true meaning of unconditional love when they have present mothers and fathers. Being a reliable parent in your child’s life shows them that no matter what, they are loved. And as a parent, we are privileged to experience unconditional love from our children. My husband loves to spend time with our kids, and in his words, he says he “gets love, bonding, and trust”. Kids have the ability to make us better people. Not only do they help us to be accountable, but they can brighten up your day when you least expect it. My favorite time of the day is when my husband comes home from work, and our kids greet him at the door. He’s shared with me this ends up usually being his favorite part of the day, too! How can you not help be happy seeing your kids grinning ear-to-ear at your presence?
Negative Outcomes of Father-Absent Homes
The absence of a father in a child’s life has numerous negative effects. Research from Psychology Today shows other disastrous results from an absent father, some of which include behavioral problems and truancy/ poor academic performance. The report found 71 percent of high school dropouts are fatherless. Additionally, fatherless children are also reported to have more trouble academically, and more likely to leave school at age 16. By being an active and involved parent in your child’s life, you can help ensure a positive outcome.
Girls Are Affected Differently
Girls are also differently affected than boys when a father is absent. A study from Merrimack College talks about the ‘anxious attachment’ girls feel without their father present: “rather than shying away from men, a female who grew up with an absent father may desperately yearn for male attention. This aligns with John Bowlby’s other insecure attachment style, anxious attachment. As a result of the inconsistent and unreliable care they received during infancy, those with an anxious attachment style tend to look for constant reassurance from others. Women who grew up without a father may specifically search for this reassurance from men. This search comes from a desire to be accepted by men, as she has not felt this acceptance by her father.” Fatherless girls then seek our acceptance from males through promiscuity.
Unfortunately, girls with absent fathers also have a tough time with their health, with reports citing that they are twice as likely to suffer from obesity.
Social adjustments are noted to be harder for fatherless children. The children are more likely to report problems with friendship, develop imitation of personas to disguise their underlying fears, unhappiness, resentments, and anxieties. Many children may not even know how they feel unless they get help from a qualified child therapist to uncover their deep emotions causing the behavioral problems.
Other studies have shown that fatherless children have a greater likelihood of becoming teenage parents, and have a greater likelihood of having intercourse before the age of 16. Children are also four times more likely to be poor if the father is not around.
When a father is present and involved, there is an association with lower levels of child neglect, even in families that may be facing other factors such as unemployment and poverty.
Being a father comes with tremendous responsibility, but it also comes with an inordinate amount of fun. The best thing about being involved in your child’s life is the reciprocal unconditional love that lasts a lifetime.
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