Moms are awesome. There’s nothing like a mother’s love. A child should be with their mother. I’m sure you have seen sayings like these, and many more like them. All of these statements are true. The love and support of a mother are wonderful and even life affirming. What is also true, but less widely proclaimed is that fathers are awesome, wonderful, and necessary. In fact the presence and active participation of a capable and loving father are critically important to the development and success of a child. If you were to ask the average person if fathers were important, I think most would tend to say yes. However, for some peculiar reason the importance of the role of fathers is not discussed and recognized nearly as much as the importance of mothers is. It is a very unfortunate truth that many fathers are completely or partially absent from the lives of their children; and this has a profound effect on the quality of life for those children. In my mind this fact has got to change.
To a large extent, fathers themselves are to blame for why their importance isn’t more widely recognized. For a long time men have been the primary income earners for their families. These men would go off to work, and leave raising the children to their wives. Mothers would stay home, building mental and emotional bonds with their children. Because of the bonds made, children naturally gravitate towards their mothers for nearly all their needs. Since the beginning of time men have been enculturated to be strong i.e. ‘emotion-less’, and this over time has widened the gap between many fathers and their children. Men were the hunter gatherers, and women were the nurturers. Typically the same is true in the animal kingdom. While some male animals stay with the same female mates for life, many go off to start new families in order to propagate the herd. Unfortunately some human males have the same ‘propagation mentality’.
The inclination of some men to leave one family and start another has by necessity made the role of the mother that much more important to the family left behind. This kind of unfaithfulness has been repeated over and over by men of all cultures. Sometimes women forgive this behavior, other times they put the man out, thus making it more difficult for him to be an effective father. I want to be clear on a couple of things. Being put out of the family home or leaving on one’s own makes fathering more difficult but it does not make it impossible. Secondly, women have every right to end a relationship with a man who has been unfaithful. Oh…thirdly, I’m well aware that women are unfaithful as well.
Whatever the cause, either by nature, culture, or foolishness the role of fathers has been diminished in the eyes of some. A lot of single mothers think that all a child needs is them. If you look at the messages in our popular culture, it seems as though the role of fathers just isn’t that important. You may need to look under the surface, or you may need to read between the lines to see it, but the importance of fathers isn’t respected or expected nearly enough. If a child is without its mother for whatever reason, it’s seen as tragic. However, if a child is without its father it’s usually seen as perhaps a bump in the road, but not something that child can’t get past. The fact of the matter is that the presence and full participation of the father is critically important to the well-being of all children.
Here are some facts about the impact of not having the father fully involved in his child’s life –
- With a father involved a child typically has: better social, emotional, and academic functioning. Fewer behavioral problems, and higher reading skills.
- With a father not involved a child is – four times more likely to be poor. There are 12% of children living in poverty in homes with a mother and father, versus 44% in homes with the mother only.
- Children show higher levels of aggressive behavior in single mother homes.
- Infant mortality rates are 1.8 times higher in homes with a single mother versus married couples.
- Youths in homes with a mother and father have the lowest incidence of incarceration, next are homes where the father left, and the highest incidence is in homes where the father was never there.
- Being raised by a single mother increases the risk of teenage pregnancy, not graduating from high school, and marrying a partner who also hasn’t graduated from high school.
- There is a higher risk of child neglect from a non-biological father living in the house as opposed to the bio-dad living in the house.
- There is significantly more drug and alcohol abuse among children raised by a single mother. (a)
I am not saying that single mothers cannot raise happy well-adjusted children; I have seen countless examples of this. What I am saying it that being a single mother is really hard, and that it is not a wise choice. Sometimes single parenthood was not a choice by the woman, but an unfair circumstance that was forced upon her. People make mistakes, I know I have. However when people continue to make the same mistakes over and over again, or repeat the poor choices they have seen other people make, not only is it unproductive, often harmful, and costly, it’s stupid. So many men fail to live up to their parental responsibilities, and so many women choose these men over and over again to have children with. Women pay a high cost by making a poor choice with whom they will become parents, but the children pay an even higher cost. Given a choice a child would always prefer to live with both their mother and father.
In no way do I look down on women who have been left high and dry by a rotten selfish man. I celebrate the women who against the odds manage to successfully raise children on their own. What I do look down on is short-sighted foolish decisions to have unprotected sex and bring children into the world with the cards stacked against them. Way too often I see this in my own African American community, where single parenthood has become commonplace. A huge reason African Americans are behind the curve educationally and economically is the lack of black men marrying or at least living in the house with their children supporting their family and effectively co-parenting.
If not for ourselves, then certainly for the sake of the children men must stand up and be men. We must shoulder the responsibility of manhood, and fatherhood. Being a player is childish. Being a prolific baby-maker is tragic. Making a baby is a basic biological function, but to be a great father is a divine privilege and gift that should never be taken lightly.
Women must demand more for themselves, and expect men to act like men. Women should require stability, both emotionally and financially from the men they decide to have children with. It is entirely possible for a woman to discern if a man will be a great parent; that female intuition we all hear about can be quite useful in this regard. There are always signs about the caliber of a man (and a woman for that matter); use your intellect and wisdom; be patient and the truth will reveal itself to you. The right man will understand your caution, and he will be willing and able to prove that he is capable of being the man you deserve.
The truth of the matter is this – the importance of fathers in the lives of their children cannot be overstated. When better choices are made by men and women not just before pregnancy but even before sex, better outcomes and happier more successful children are the result. In a very big way – FATHERS MATTER.
Stay Fly and Fly High! KLH
I believe I was put here on this earth to teach people how to live bigger, better, and more awesome lives. I am not always right but I always have something to say…and I am here to say it. I want to change the world, and I know that I can with a little help from my friends. So, I created The MInd of KLH blog to inform and spark the imagination of anyone desiring a world full of possibilities realized.One Love...Really!
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