In the book Fatherless America: Confronting our Most Urgent Social Problem, David Blankenhorn (1995) asserts that father’s absence is the most harmful demographic tendency of the present younger generation. It is the main reason for the decrease in children’s well-being in society. Father’s absence is a root of the most acute social problems, such as crime, early pregnancy, child sexual abuse, and violence against women. Furthermore, boys raised without fathers suffer from mental and emotional disorders more than their peers from full families. They are less adapted to society. Â
A range of sociological studies, which were carried in the US, proved that father’s absence influences boys very negatively. The latter suffer from loneliness, emotional disorders, and depressions, which results into severe behavioral problems and juvenile delinquency. Children do not want to learn/study and play truant. They are more likely to start taking drugs and alcoholic beverages, which considerably increases the possibility of sexual and physical abuse. Raised without fathers, boys experience a deep psychological shock, which makes them disappoint in the surrounding world and the notion of a family as such. The point is that a boy, trying to explain why his father is gone, may start accusing himself of this deed, which leads to the aggravated feelings of loneliness and anxiety.
A father that has abandoned a mother with a boy would always cause only negative woman’s emotions, which she would pour out to her son. Constantly hearing that men are bad, boys become unable to find their place under the sun since they are unconfident and may even loathe themselves for being a man. Moreover, boys who are deprived of father’s attention suffer from a range of complexes, connected with inferiority, absence of inner harmony, and psychological deviance preventing them from creating their own family in the future. That is why boys raised without fathers are more likely to become single drunkards, drug-addicts, or tyrants.Â Â Â
Fathers’ role in children’s upbringing should not be underestimated. Numerous studies highlight that children raised with fathers’ involvement have a great social and academic advantage over children who got no fathers’ attention. Particularly, fathers contribute to boys’ better language skills and behavioral patterns. Moreover, boys with fathers tend to have fewer problems with the law and the police as they grow up. As experts mention, a good father serves as a positive role model for his son and helps him shape a healthy and conscious gender identity as well as cognize his feeling and emotions deeper. Â
The emotional component of fathers’ influence on sons is of immense importance. The point is that a boy strives for connection and, at the same time, longs for independence, which creates an emotional divide. The struggle between his longing for connection and his strive for autonomy manifests itself differently as a boy matures. What makes the matter worse is that our culture imposes rigid gender stereotypes upon boys’ psyche, according to which boys are supposed to be tough and hide their emotions. This rejection of emotional development affects boys very negatively since they cannot give outlet to their feelings and emotions. As a consequence, they should suffer deeply in their souls, which may lead to various psychological disorders. Due to this fact, most boys are not prepared to meet the challenges arising along the way to become an emotionally literate and healthy adult. That is why exactly fathers’ involvement in explaining the necessity of emotional literacy to their sons may spare boys of a range of psychological deviations. Â Â
Father’s involvement is necessary at every stage of boys’ development and upbringing. During this the infantile stage, a baby is investigating the world, manipulating objects, and exploring physical relationships. At this stage, involved fathers are inclined to provide more physical and verbal stimulation than mothers; the former pat their babies gently and communicate with them using sharp rather than soothing sounds. That is why, when babies get older, they prefer playing not with their mothers but fathers who ensure an exciting, stimulating, and unpredictable interaction.
This stimulation is of primary importance since it promotes healthy development of the infant’s brain and may have a continuous positive impact on children’s intellectual, social, and emotional development. In addition, infant boys who got their fathers’ attention are likely to show better results when tested in brain development and thinking skills. The study by MacDonald & Parke proved that baby boys who played with their fathers stimulating and affectionate games turned out to be more successful pupils later. Â Â Â Â
When infants become toddlers, fathers’ participation in plays with them does not lose its importance. What matters here is that fathers do not simply entertain sons, but provide a safe and challenging environment for their activity. A rough-and-tumble play teaches toddlers to overcome obstacles, respecting boundaries and limits at the same time. Learning how to achieve goals, small children acquire a precious set of problem-solving skills. That is why a good play with a nurturing father helps boys improve their thinking, analytical, and problem-solving skills. As it was already mentioned, primarily fathers are responsible for boys’ emotional development, and it is really so since mothers do not have such a profound impact on their sons in this sphere as fathers do. Emotionally involved fathers help sons control their temper and bad emotions, which makes them more â€œemotionally competent.â€ Emotionally competent boys, in turn, are less aggressive and even more sympathetic with others, which ensures better relationships with peers. Therefore, exactly fathers guarantee boys’ solid social relationships during childhood and further adult life.Â
At primary school, children begin solving more difficult tasks and acquiring more adult-like skills, which means that they start dealing with the notions of failure and success and feelings which they evoke. To develop a positive sense of self-esteem, children must be sure of their ability to reach a goal or master a definite skill. Fathers are the best teachers in this sphere. It is the case due to the fact that fathers encourage their children to try new activities, at the same time fostering their desire for independence. At this stage of development, fathers’ influence is so crucial that they have a more profound impact on their child’s self-esteem than mothers.
Â Taking on new challenges does not boil down only to learning new skills but presupposes the sense of responsibility as well. If a father is strongly committed to his family, his son will perceive him as a model of a responsible man. Boys with involved fathers have an inherent sense of control, which implies that boys are more inclined to realize that their failures and success depend exclusively on themselves rather than are caused by external circumstances. These children bear greater responsibility for their deeds and almost never blame others for their failures or mistakes. Therefore, fathers can bring up a morally strong son, who is not afraid to admit his own failures and be responsible for them.
Another direct connection between father’s presence and his son’s development is observed. Nurturing fathers tend to bring up more intellectually developed sons. There are several reasons for this tendency. First of all, fathers who live with their wives and sons are likely to provide better financial support for the latter. Profound economic support enables access to more educational resources and wider learning opportunities. Secondly, caring fathers would always help their sons with studies. One study showed that four- and five-year-old boys had higher scores in math if fathers paid attention to counting and reading skills. Fathers can also influence boys’ thinking skills positively if they encourage their sons to go in for sport and participate in social activities. According to some studies, active involvement in fitness and sport activities helped boys and girls become more successful both in school and their future career. Â Â Â Â
Even father’s limited affection, warmth, and attention are of immense importance to their sons, who learn how to adjust to new circumstances, get along with peers, and have stable emotions. Moreover, fathers are especially successful in the sphere of moral development. This happens when fathers provide direct guidance and share their activities, interests, and plans with sons. These boys tend to behave better in school and consider feelings of others. Boys’ moral development is also fostered if they perceive fathers as role models. It was proved that boys, who wanted to resemble fathers, admired got higher scores when tested in personal, moral values, moral judgments, and rule-obedience. At the same time, boys who did not show great resemblance to their fathers were reluctant to admit their guilt or acknowledge their mistakes. In addition to this, it was hard for these boys to control their feelings and they behaved more aggressively in school. Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
All things considered, fathers’ involvement in sons’ upbringing is of vital necessity since they foster boys’ healthy psychological development. Father’s absence results in boys’ low self-esteem, inferiority, emotional disorders, and a decreased sense of responsibility, which altogether makes them disappoint in the surrounding world and leads to juvenile delinquency.