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Kayla Greene
Professor Campbell
English 1103
February 23, 2016
The destructiveness of Fatherlessness
Introduction/Overview
For my extended inquiry project I will be researching absent-father homes across
America and the impact that it has on a child’s social, mental, emotional, and behavioral
development. I’m going to focus on the increased risks of teen-pregnancy, juvenile records, drug
and alcohol use, homelessness, and abuse for these children who grow up in homes where the
father is not present.
With the rise of globalization and increase in cultural diversity, marriage is becoming
valued less and less by Americans, which devalues the role of a father in the process. Women are
increasingly turning to alternative measures for becoming mothers whether it be through
artificial insemination, surrogate mothers, or adoption. According to a Forbes article even just as
recently as 30 years ago children born to single parent homes was only 20%. Fast forward to the
present day and that number has doubled to 41%. That number is startling when you look at the
fact that it has doubled in just a 30 year time period. What’s even more startling to me is the
significant differences among children who are born in a home where the parents are married
versus children who are born to single parents. The differences between these two categories of
children include education versus no education, financial security versus homelessness, stable
social relationships versus weak, insecure relationships, and the list goes on. The differences and
mental/emotional effects are even more interesting when observing children who are born in

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single parent homes where they did not have a father to raise them. According to Washington
Times, roughly 15 million children in the United States live without a father present. For each
individual circumstance there are many reasons why the father is not present, so it’s quite
possible that maybe that plays a small factor into the development of a child’s social world or
cognitive thinking. Perhaps a child is born in a financially secure home, but the father passes
away for some reason and the child is left with just the mother, but the child still has financial
security and is able to live a prosperous life, so having the father absent may only affect them
emotionally. On the other end of the spectrum a child could be born in a low-income home where
the father is in prison for various reasons, so this may affect the child in more ways than just
emotionally. The key is exploring and discovering these little factors that come into play and
how they differ from child to child and circumstance to circumstance. Looking at statistics from
National Fatherhood Initiative it is startling to see how much more likely children without fathers
in their lives are susceptible to abuse, drug use, poverty, teen pregnancy, crime, and so forth.
Looking at why single parenting is becoming more of a trend I found an excerpt from David
Popenoe’s book “Life without Father” to be an insightful resource. With single parenting will
come different views and opinions on the risks that it has on children, and these opinions and
views stem from personal experiences. Someone from a well-off, financially secure home will
have a completely different opinion than say someone from a low-income neighborhood where
they themselves have experienced single parenting in some way or another. These different
angles and factors that come into play make this concept and issue one of great complexity.

Initial Inquiry Question(s)

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When looking at the increasing trend of single parent homes, how do absent-father homes
contribute to a child’s long-term social, mental, and behavioral development, and how may this
differ across the socio-economic board?
My Interest in this Topic
The topic of absent-father homes interests me, because my cousin has grown up in this
exact scenario without ever having met his father. His father chose to leave before he was born,
and I have personally seen the effects of this played out in his behavior and interactions towards
others. I’ve the seen the selfish, quick to anger, lack of respect, getting-away-with-anythingbecause-he’s-never-had-discipline-in-his-life, type of behavior and it’s quite startling to see,
especially when you consider the increase in children like this and the fact that they will
someday be the adults and maybe leaders of our country. Alongside gaining knowledge on this
subject I also want to learn how to communicate and sympathize with children like this, and how
not to outcast or further divide their circumstances from circumstances that may be perceived as
“normal”, and rather than see them as children with problems to see them as children who can be
counseled and helped to correct and improve these conditions.
Next Steps
My next course of action will be to look at The Father Code blog site to see some of the
most destructing issues that arise when a child is abandoned by their father. People are so
oblivious to these issues and statistics, but this blog site gives good insight. Through the library’s
points of view database I will use another resource of David Popenoe’s and his scholarly article
“A World without Fathers”, in which he talks about the devastating decline of fatherhood. I will
look at Washington Times as well for statistics on the decline of fatherhood throughout America.