The Impact of a Man

June 23, 2020

Not every man fathers a child. But if he does, it immediately becomes the most important responsibility he has. This past weekend as we celebrated Father’s Day, I saw a number of professional athletes from different arenas saluting their fathers and the impact they had on their children’s lives.

Anyone can father a child, but being a dad takes a lifetime. Fathers play a role in every child’s life that cannot be filled by others. This role helps shape him or her into the person they become. However, many children are shorted on the fulfillment of needs only a father can handle. In the United States, there are more than 64 million men who identify themselves as being a father. Out of that figure, only 26.5 million men are part of a home where they are married to a spouse and have children under the age of 18 living there. Fathers are important, but unfortunately, fathers are not always there. These statistics on fatherless homes show why it is important, even as a single parent, for a father to stick around.

  • 85% percent of youth who are currently in prison grew up in a fatherless home. (Texas Department of Corrections)
  • 7 out of every 10 youth who are housed in state-operated correctional facilities, including detention and residential treatment, come from a fatherless home. (U.S. Department of Justice)
  • 39% of students in the United States, from the first grade to their senior year of high school, do not have a father at home. Children without a father are four times more likely to be living in poverty than children with a father. (National Public Radio)
  • Children from fatherless homes are twice as likely to drop out from school before graduating than children who have a father in their lives. (National Public Radio)
  • 24.7 million children in the United States live in a home where their biological father is not present. That equates to one in every three children in the United States not having access to their father. (National Public Radio)
  • Girls who live in a fatherless home have a 100% higher risk of suffering from obesity than girls who have their father present. Teen girls from fatherless homes are also four times more likely to become mothers before the age of 20. (National Public Radio)
  • In 2011, 44% of children in homes headed by a single mother were living in poverty. Just 12% of children in married-couple families were living in poverty. (U.S. Census Bureau)
  • Children who live in a single-parent home are more than two times more likely to commit suicide than children in a two-parent home. (The Lancet)
  • 72% of Americans believe that a fatherless home is the most significant social problem and family problem that is facing their country. (National Center for Fathering)
  • Only 68% of children will spend their entire childhood with an intact family. (U.S. Census Bureau)
  • 75% of rapists are motivated by displaced anger that is associated with feelings of abandonment that involves their father. (U.S. Department of Justice)
  • Living in a fatherless home is a contributing factor to substance abuse, with children from such homes accounting for 75% of adolescent patients being treated in substance abuse centers. (U.S. Department of Justice)
  • 85% of all children which exhibit some type of a behavioral disorder come from a fatherless home. (U.S. Department of Justice)
  • 90% of the youth in the United States who decide to run away from home, or become homeless for any reason, originally come from a fatherless home. (U.S. Department of Justice)
  • 63% of youth suicides involve a child who was living in a fatherless home when they made their final decision. (U.S. Department of Justice)
  • Children who live in a single-parent or stepfamily home report less schoolwork monitoring, less social supervision, and lower educational expectations than children who come from two-parent homes. (American Sociological Review)
  • Even when poverty levels are equal, children who come from a two-parent home outperform children who come from a one-parent home. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
  • About 40% of children in the United States are born to mothers who are not married. Over 60% of these children were born to mothers who were under the age of 30%. (CDC)
  • 25% of children are the age of 18 are currently being raised without the presence of a father. Around 50% of single mothers have never married. 29% are divorced. Only one in five are either separated or widowed.
  • In single-mother households, 50% involve just one child. 30% of single mothers are raising two children on their own. (U.S. Census Bureau)
  • 27% of single mothers were jobless for the entire year while taking care of their children. Only 22% of those who were out of work were receiving unemployment benefits at the time. (U.S. Census Bureau)
  • The median income for a household with a single mother is $35,400. The median income for a home with a married couple raising their children is $85,300 in the United States. Two-thirds of low-income working families with children are in the African American community. (U.S. Census Bureau)
  • Over 30% of fatherless homes are classified as being food insecure, yet only 13% of homes will utilize the services of a food pantry. Over 30% of fatherless homes also spend more than half of their income on housing costs, which classifies the household as experiencing a severe housing burden. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
  • Children who live in a fatherless home are 279% more likely to deal drugs or carry firearms for offensive purposes compared to children who live with their fathers. (Allen and Lo)
  • Pregnant women who do not have the support of the father experience pregnancy loss at a 48% rate. When the father is present, the prevalence of pregnancy loss falls to 22%. (Shah, Gee, and Theall)
  • 43% of fathers do not see their role as something that is important to their personal identity. 54% of fathers in the U.S. say that parenting isn’t enjoyable all of the time. (Pew Research) Even in homes with fathers, the modern dad spends only eight hours per week on childcare, which is six hours less than the modern mom. On the other hand, 43% of the modern dad’s time is spent with paid work, compared to 25% of the time for the modern mom. Dads are spending three times more time with their kids than dads did in 1965. (Pew Research)

Those stats are staggering in their impact. We at least should be able to agree on this: fathers, like mothers, are pillars in the development of a child’s emotional well-being. Children look to their fathers to lay down the rules and enforce them. They also look to their fathers for the feeling of security, both physical and emotional. Children want to make their fathers proud, and an involved father promotes inner growth and strength. Studies have shown that when fathers are affectionate and supportive, a child’s cognitive and social development are enhanced, and those kids are far more likely to have an overall sense of well-being and self-confidence.

Fathers not only influence who we are on the inside, but they affect how we have relationships with people as we grow. The way a father treats his child will influence what he or she looks for in relationships with other people. Friends, lovers, and spouses will all be chosen based on how the child perceived the meaning of the relationship with his or her father. The patterns a father sets in the relationships with his children will dictate how his children relate with other people.

Young girls depend on their fathers for security and emotional support. A father shows his daughter what a good relationship with a man is like. If a father is loving and gentle, his daughter will look for those qualities in men when she begins dating. If a father is strong and noble, she will relate closely to men of the same character.

Unlike girls, who model their relationships with others based on their father’s character, boys model themselves after their father’s character. That should impact every man who reads this. This is a psychological face. Boys seek approval from their fathers beginning at a very young age. Human beings grow up by imitating the behavior of those around us. That’s how we learn to function in the world. If a father is caring and treats people with respect, the young boy will grow up much the same. When a father is absent, young boys look to other male figures to set the “rules” for how to behave and survive in the world.

If you have a dad who was present and tried, and he is still living, be sure you thank him for what often seemed like a thankless job. If you are a father, remember being present is the most important thing you can do. Being present and active with great love will reap forever rewards in your life and the lives of your children.