Friday, June 23, 2006

Part II - When there is no father

This is a follow up to my earlier post Are Fathers Neccesary.Only one blogger addressed the question while others went on their own tangents but still I will continue to soldier on.
So the consensus seems to state that fathers are not neccesary.
So let's take a look at what happens when you take a father out of the family equation.Here are some statistics about children in the U.S.A raised in single parent households.Kenyan statistics on this issue seem to be non-existant but given the similar urbanisation paradigms present in both societies I think they merit consideration.

-63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (Source: U.S. D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census
-90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes
-85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes (Source:
Center for Disease Control)
-80% of rapists motivated with displaced anger come from fatherless homes (Source: Criminal
Justice & Behavior, Vol 14, p. 403-26, 1978.)
-71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes (Source: National Principals
Association Report on the State of High Schools.)
-75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes (Source:
Rainbows for all Gods Children.)
-70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes (Source: U.S. Dept.
of Justice, Special Report, Sept 1988)
-85% of all youths sitting in prisons grew up in a fatherless home (Source: Fulton Co. Georgia jail
populations, Texas Dept. of Corrections 1992)
-10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances
-9 times more likely to end up in a state-operated institution
-20 times more likely to end up in prison.

This is not to say that there are not single mothers ( I would add fathers but they comprise of less then 1/10th of single parent families in the states).There are many mothers who have well behaved children who are thriving (and I am sure that we all know a few) but there are also those struggling to make ends meet and to control their children (I know some of these too).Also the statistics above don't say that children who grow up in intact families will not commit crimes, run away from home and drop out of school.
The existance of single parent families cannot be blamed on any one party.There are hit and run specialists and dead beat dads who are no where to be seen (plus society no longer holds them accountable).There are those relationships and marriages that don't work (or are not given enough time and effort to work) and then there are those women who make the conscious decision to raise children without a father.This excerpt points out a few good points.

A young woman needs to know that the decision to have a child by herself is a decision that exposes her and her child to a lifetime of elevated risks: of poverty, of lower education, of depression, and of prison. Getting and staying married may seem formidable to a young pregnant woman because marriage is filled with a hundred irritations and difficulties. She might think it simpler to strike out alone rather than to put up with the innumerable adjustments and accommodations that are inevitable in married life. And it is easier for us to remain uninvolved in such a decision. But we are not doing the young person any favors by acting as if we are ignorant of the likely consequences of her choices. The time-honored American ethos of “live and let live” has metamorphosed into a categorical imperative to keep our mouths shut.

For years we have heard that single parenthood is an alternative lifestyle choice that doesn’t affect anyone but the person who chooses it. We have been instructed that society should loosen the stigma against it in order to promote individual freedom of choice. We have been scolded for being insufficiently sensitive to the plight of single mothers if we utter any criticism of their decisions. At the urging of various activist groups, the government and society at large have been developing a posture of neutrality among family arrangements. There are no better or worse forms of family, we are told. There are no “broken families,” only “different families.”

The premise behind this official posture of neutrality is false. The decision to become a single parent or to disrupt an existing family does affect people outside the immediate household. These words may seem harsh to adults who have already made crucial life decisions, but it is time to be candid. We need to create a vocabulary for lovingly, but firmly and without apology, telling young people what we know. Surely, telling the truth is no infringement on anyone’s liberty. Young people need to have accurate information about the choices they face. For their own sake — and for ours.

Alot of the stats given up there focus on boys but a father is important in girls lives too as a good father helps them know how to relate to other males they will meet in their lives and also provides more then one steady influence.Teen pregnany rates are higher in girls who grow up in single parent families.

Prison and single parenthood seem to really linked in the statistics, so let me simplify it.A single mother will have less money to take care of a family then a married or cohabiting couple.So in the case of the States she will more likely take on an extra job and have less time to monitor and bond with her children.So the children have more time to themselves and are more likely to fall under bad influences that lead them to committing crimes.I think this trend should be evident in a place like Kenya too.

The fact is that at the end of the day children need fathers (good fathers at that) then none at all.Single motherhood is not as glamorous, as easy and as empowering as the media would have you believe.Families are meant to have both parents and when we deviate from this there are consequences.
Here are some links for information.I am sure some of you will ferret out links that state the opposite and if you do so, good for you!

This post was just a PSA and in no way designed to change your opinions on parenthood.If you want to be a single parent then go ahead and indulge yourself!


Joseph Walking said...

Acolyte i agree with most of what you are saying.father are an important part of our lives . it is also upto grown men like us to take the responsibility to be the men in the lives of those who have no fathers . children who have no fathers have uncles ,friends,Grandfathers and even older brothers who can step in and play this or some role . Many single mothers are not single mothers by choice but we can support them by being role models for their children and supporting them .its the simple things like helping them out and spending time with the children and them that will prevent the children from becoming statistics.Supporting single mothers is infact the first step making an impact on their children . and lets not forget the single fathers. do you have any stats for their children

Acolyte said...

@ joseph
Thanks for your comment.I did conceed that in many cases men have indeed dropped the ball and not taken up their role in the case of some single parent families.In the West there often isnt the extended family network that allows for external male influence unfortunately.I am in no way demonising mothers who are single out of circumstance but I am talking to those who want to become single mothers by choice just pointing out that it is not as easy and as glorious as they think it is.Single father families also have their own unique sets of problems and are not perfect but dues to their small numbers the statistics are not as easy to find.

egm said...

I agree with Joe on the issue of having a male role model for children from single mother homes (and likewise for female role models for children of single father homes). I have a friend who is part of the big brother program. He has been a "big brother" to a boy who is now 13 years old for the past 4 years. And he is in it whole heartedly, not just to fulfill some wish-washy social responsibility requirement. So much so that, any time he has noticed behavioural problems with the boy, he has sat down with the boy's mother and told her about it, bringing his concerns to her in a respectful manner. This has, on one or two occasions, served to redirect the boy from wayward behaviour that was sure to mess him up. I am sure when this boy becomes a man, he will have my friend to thank for providing that father-figure during this his formative years. Who is to say where he'd be today without his "big brother"?

Kudos on the post.

Acolyte said...

@ egm
I have heard of quite a few successes due to the big brother program and when I move to ATL environs I would like to help where I can.
The fact is that if a father is not present a stable male influence can work wonders.Thanks for your comment!

Anonymous said...

and what of the case where the kid has 2 fathers or mothers ( same sex marriage ) ...

good post some deep thinking here

Acolyte said...

@ anonymus
Same sex parentage families are a relatively new phenomenon so not a lot of research has been compiled but I will see what I can find and post on it!It should be an interesting issue.

Msanii_XL said...

Great follow up aco... agree with each and everyone of the posters.

Mimmz said...

A father is as necessary as a mother is not effective. That would be what my physics instructor called an inverse relationship.

Bringing up a child is solely about bringing out their best, confidence, good traits, awareness of weaknesses and most of all giving them a sense of belonging. As some people have pointed out, the availability of a substitute, constant male influence might help.

What the statistics don't tell you after they tell you of the horrors the 'fatherless' people commit is how long they were fatherless.
Violence would have been learnt from a violent father who left after years of violence upon a family. The correct solution would have been to never let the child near the violent father. 5 years with his father may have ruined him. An eternity of fatherlessness might have been a better solution, might have saved him from all his woes.

It's complicated, but the only goal is to make sure the child has a sense of belonging, and explaining that people jeering or questioning his missing father have a reason to, but it should not affect his life choices. And definitely providing him with that side of his history and allowing him the choice to investigate that part of him after warning him that he may not like what he finds.

acolyte said...

@ mimmz
Thanks for your comment.
An eternity of fatherlessness might have been a better solution, might have saved him from all his woes.
An interesting statement but I disagree as many of the most violent criminals were fatherless.But you do have a good point which I did bring up.I am not talking about the importance of father hood for the sake of it but good fatherhood and male influences.

Kenyangal said...

Joe said what i wanted to say, there arent many women that go out with the sole intent of being single mothers, it is not a norm.

acolyte said...

@ kenyangal
Ah so young and so idealistic!I know loads of girls who tell me that when they get to a certain age that they dont want to get married but do want to have kids!I also know some who have actually done so!

Prousette said...

Fathers and good ones at that are extremely important in a child's life.
That message should be passed on especially to those dead beat / absent dads.
There are plenty of women going around with that I- do- not- want to-get-married-but-I-need-a-child gospel. While everyone is free to make a choice on how they want to live their lives, they will be leaving this child without the privilege of having two parents because of selfcenteredness which is what they base their choice on.

acolyte said...

@ prousette
As usual you have spoken so much sense that there is little I can add or take away from that statement!

Girl next door said...

The ideal situation has both parents. Fathers are so important.

acolyte said...

@ Girl Next Door
I wish more people realised that!There is a reason 2 people are needed to make a child!