Living Without a FatherResearch Paper

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Father Abandonment

Long-Term Effects of Paternal Abandonment

Parents pass on their values and experience to children as the latter's guide to living (Campbell 2015). Right or wrong, children need parents for this highly specific function on which children depend and from which children shape their own lives. But when one parent suddenly disappears and his specific function goes blank without the child's completing his own cast to a life, things go wrong. Even when the shaping has been completed, a parental role -- particularly the father's -- remains critical to a child who may reached adulthood (Campbell).

Long-term negative effects are mainly on self-esteem, fear of abandonment, and intimacy (Campbell 2015). He may feel that his father left them because he did not want him because he is not worthy of his love. And the child may thus quietly conclude that no one else will ever think of him as worth loving. Another possible negative consequence is fear of abandonment. The abandonment of a father may impress upon the child a repeat of the loss in other aspects of life as he becomes an adult. Researcher and author Pamela Thomas believes that abandonment can lead daughters to lose faith in commitment. When the abandonment happens in a child's early years, it can deeply impress upon her that everyone else will leave her. And the third negative impact can be on intimacy. A study conducted in 2007 at the University of Haifa School of Social Work concluded that a child who experiences emotional distance from a father is likely to experience conflict in adult relationships, which call for intimacy. He can find it hard to allow others to become close to him. He can have problems or find it impossible to take risks at becoming vulnerable with his feelings. He is likely to avoid it by setting up a wall between him and physical intimacy (Campbell).

Devastating Effects of a Father's Absence

The comparison between families in developed and developing countries shows a serious difference in the matter of emotional well-being. The 2007 UNICEF report on children's social and emotional well-being said that children in North America and the UK suffered extremely low rates as compared with those in developing countries (Kruk 2012). The major problem in developing countries may be economic but it is nuclear or family relationship-based in developed countries. Of the many theories suggested on the cause of the phenomenon, the prevalence and severe impact of father absence in children lives appear dominant. It may be a case of oversight on the part of social institutions, which do not provide sufficient support for parental involvement. This gap, in turn, hurts the need of children to have both parents with them as they grow old. The courts customarily view fathers as merely "accessory parents" when both parents must share the responsibility of child-rearing. Divorce and childbearing outside marriage are blamed for this. Divorce devalues a father's role and results in emotional distortions not known and considered early enough (Kruk).

The most important and most devastating effects of losing or not having a father are a child's reduced self-esteem, a damaged sense of security and self-doubt; problem behaviors, such as social maladjustment, shyness, dependence, or the opposite behavior of bullying and an imposing attitude to hide a fractured sense of security (Kruk 2012). Studies also reported that truancy and poor academic performance among 71% of school dropouts had lost their fathers. Evidence showed that children who did poorly in reading, mathematics, and abstract thinking did not have their fathers at home. Children who are abandoned by their fathers for whatever reason were more likely to drop out of school at the age of 16, and fail to achieve satisfactory academic and professional skills in adulthood. Other effects are juvenile delinquency, criminality, especially violent criminality, promiscuity and premarital pregnancy among girls, contacting sexually transmitted diseases, drug abuse and alcoholism, homelessness, physical and mental health problems, vulnerability to exploitation and abuse, higher unemployment probability, likelihood of gaining work with low incomes, dependence on others and social assistance. In adulthood, fatherless children tend to enter serious relationships at an early age and become unprepared for responsibility. Common results are divorce and extramarital affairs with children outside marriage. Other studies also reveal that fatherless children die earlier than other children or live a shorter life span by four years or less (Kruk).

David Blankenhorn coins the description of Fatherless America as a signal of a crisis and a most destructive trend in our time (Kruk 2012). He compared the need for a father as a plague and the phenomenal "father deficit" as a public health issue that must be promptly and seriously addressed (Kruk).

The Father Factor is Primal

No less than President Barack Obama attested to the fundamental significance of a father in the home (NPR 2014). He himself suffered this deficit and can speak for any child who experiences it. In a White House conference in which he emphasized the significance of a father, he called attention to the need of reforming the current criminal justice system. He underscored the main cause of the rise in crime to the increase in fatherless homes and that nothing protects children from trouble better than having an involved father with them. And he knew exactly what he was talking about. He openly bewailed the absence of a father in his own home as he grew up. He admitted to being angry with the situation even without realizing that such as the cause of his anger. When he got high in his youth, he did not think beforehand about the harm getting high would lead to. He said he was not too serious with school and always made up excuses to evade it. He also admitted selling himself short because of a hunger for a father (NPR).

Effects on a Son

The reason for a father's absence in the home is relevant and determines its effects on a son (Balcom 1998). A son who grows into adulthood without a father has difficulty grounding and maintaining self-esteem, strong emotional attachments, identifying his own feelings or expressing these feelings to his partner and children. He needs to discover the reason for his father's absence in order to sort his problems out on intimacy (Balcom).

This situation affects all classes and ethnic categories of families in America today (Balcom 1998). This is why this social problem has reached extensive proportions and created deep emotional, developmental, educational, and legal effects in the abandoned son. A father separates from a son for different reasons. These include divorce, death, distant employment, military service, rehabilitation due to addiction, imprisonment and illnesses. The effects are colored by the reason, some honorable, some dishonorable. The abandoning father may himself have a reason to leave. He may find his son as a competition over his wife. The abandoned son reacts to his father's absence in the form of a denial of his importance or an over-identification or over-idealization of him. It is only when the son comes to terms with his denied need for a father that he can begin to address and solve it as well as let the wounds of abandonment heal (Balcom).

Effects on a Daughter

A father leaves his daughter for any of the stated reasons that he leaves or abandons his daughter (Worth 2010). Similar to a son's experience, a daughter can feel a father's absence physically or emotionally. A positive and strong relationship with a father leads a daughter to grow and mature into an achiever with an independent mind. She is capable of choosing a suitable partner who respects and values her for what she is. The effects of a father's abandonment or separation from a daughter are directly linked to her age when it happened. Her emotional stage at the time influences her view of men and the world as well as her academic chances at achievement (Worth).

A girl who loses the chance to bond with her father as a young child will be inclined to look for and compensate for that gap in other men (Worth 2010). If this is unmet or unsatisfied, she ability to make correct decisions is thwarted. It creates negative reactions to opportunities for success. The presence of a confident father highly contributes to a daughter's success. Studies show that a daughter who loses her father because of divorce or abandonment usually seeks to compensate or close that gap by supplanting it with attention from other men. She also develops more relationships with boys her age than girls with present fathers. She also becomes critical of her absent father and other men and boys. She tends to defend herself from male manipulation, which leads to a constant need for acceptance by men whose attention she intensely seeks (Worth).

The irretrievable loss or absence of a father can be solved by a good therapist, especially a male one, a strong bond with the remaining parent and other adults who are capable of and… [END OF PREVIEW]

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