Created on: February 06, 2013 Last Updated: February 07, 2013
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one third of American children are growing up without a biological father’s presence in the home. This increasing trend toward paternal absence not only impacts society as a whole, but is apt to have serious implications upon an individual child’s development and well-being.
Boys thrive under the guidance of a mature male role model, often emulating the strength of character and positive values displayed by a loving, involved dad.
Girls benefit from the attention and approval of a loving father by becoming comfortable with their femininity; potentially growing into self-assured women who seek out positive relationships and life experiences.
The burden is on the single mother to compensate for the lack of a male role model, in the case of boys, and to balance the upbringing for both genders when a father is not a consistent presence in the home.
Resources a mother can use to balance the upbringing of a fatherless child:
Grandfathers, godfathers, uncles can all step in and fill the role of father figure by having a frequent presence, spending quality time and showing up for special events in the child’s life. The mother can foster closeness between the fatherless child and special male relatives who possess the desirable positive trait’s the child might emulate and who will be there for the child when needed. When father/son or father/daughter events occur, ensure there is a loving relative ready and able to accompany the child.
For boys especially, having male teachers can help to provide male influence on a daily basis. Mothers can request a male teacher if one is available at the child‘s grade level and make the teacher aware of his importance in the child‘s life. A nurturing teacher can be an ideal mentor, giving the child a male perspective and becoming a positive guiding force, helping the child to stay motivated, develop self-esteem and make wise choices.
Community role models
Coaches, scout leaders, religious leaders can all contribute to balancing the upbringing of a child without a father. Men who volunteer in those various community activities are apt to be positive, generous-spirited individuals with the very traits you might hope for your child to acquire. Enrolling a fatherless child in extra-curricular activities is another way to ensure a well-rounded life experience.
Make the most of family gatherings by planning activities that draw the generations and genders together. Picnics at the park with a game of softball, touch football in the backyard, a fishing excursion, biking, hiking, camping are all activities that promote togetherness.
For mothers, or anyone else who wishes to raise their awareness and become well-informed about the impact and challenges of raising children without a father present, Psychology Today has a riveting article on the vital importance of paternal presence in children’s lives. There is also updated comprehensive research on the effects of father involvement offered by Father Involvement Research Alliance (FIRA).
Learn more about this author, Carol Gioia.
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