Nearly one-third of American children have a difficult time celebrating Father’s Day.
That’s because they’re growing up without their dads.
The most recent figures from Pew Research indicate that in 2010, 27 percent of children under age 18 were living apart from their fathers. It was around 15 percent when my father left my life in the late 70s.
The numbers are likely higher than reported.
America is now in the midst of a fatherhood crisis that has grown increasingly worse thanks to social factors such as teen pregnancy, single parenthood, divorce and multi-partner paternity. We do our best pretend all of this has had no impact on almost three generations of Americans, but we’re fooling ourselves.
It has had an impact.
A severe impact.
On millions of lives.
We have decades of data that prove children who grow up without their dads are:
- Four times more likely to live in poverty
- More likely to suffer emotional and behavioral problems
- Twice as likely to be involved in early sexual activity
- Experience 10 times the rate of abuse and more than 6 times the rate of neglect (at the hands of the mother’s partner)
Millions of us created that data.
Millions of us lived it.
Sadly, we know better than to do this to children. While our society praises the virtues of single and same-sex parents, a recent survey revealed 69 percent of adults said a child needs a father in the home to grow up happily. Roughly the same amount said a child needs a mother as well.
While many of today’s men have personally vowed to be better dads than their fathers were, far too many are dropping the ball. Nearly one-third of fathers who do not live with their children say they talk or exchange email with them less than once a month; 27 percent say they have not seen their children at all in the past year.
They simply aren’t around, available or involved.
No wonder so many children, from infant to middle-age, struggle with celebrating Father’s Day.