How were you influenced by your father? Was he loving, involved, detached, critical, or abusive? We were all influenced by our fathers, good or bad. In my initial assessment with clients I’m especially curious about this relationship and try to discern what they may have carried forward. Parents can impact our self-esteem, emotional development/maturity, ability to show love/affection, and influence our decision-making with our relationships. Fathers have a tremendous impact on children’s development; unfortunately the number of fatherless homes has been rising.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one out of three children live in father absent homes. The fatherless statistics are pretty incredible and very disturbing. The suicide rate is 5X the national average for those who come from fatherless homes. In fact, 63% of all suicides are from fatherless homes. Fatherless homes also correlate with higher crime, teenage pregnancy, alcohol/drug rates, high school dropouts, behavior disorders and health problems. There are multiple effects on society and families.
A study from 2006 by Howard et.al in the Journal of Family Psychology found that a father’s involvement can make a huge difference in a child’s development. They found that when fathers were actively involved children had better socio-emotional functioning, fewer behavioral problems, scored higher on reading achievement tests, and had greater academic functioning. Being physically present is very important, but fathers need to also be emotionally engaged and involved in their children’s lives. Modeling healthy and responsible behaviors as well as showing love to your spouse will help children. Spend time getting to know your children, listen when they talk to you and offer mutual respect. Be able to talk openly about emotions and model conflict resolution behaviors. Show them love and affection consistently and not just when they’ve done something special. Model a strong work ethic and balance that encompasses occupation, marriage, faith, family, and friends. Lastly, spend time in their world and invite them into your world. Children are like sponges and learn so much from our words and actions. This is our greatest teaching tool.