STUDY SHOWS IMPORTANCE OF BOTH PARENTS IN A FAMILY
By Elizabeth Foss
The anticipation begins an hour before he is to arrive. The children,
peering out the window into the darkness every five minutes, ask
"When is Daddy coming home?" He arrives, greeted by their shouts of
Dinner time focuses on questions about their day, as he expands on
something Michael learned or he reminds Christian how important it is
that children obey their parents. After some time with me, when he
fills my very real need for "growing talk," he dissolves to the
living room floor, where amidst the tumbling, tickling and squealing
of their roughhousing, my boys learn from their dad infinite lessons
in toughness, mercy and fair play. They also learn what it feels like
to be held in the strong, secure arms of a father who loves them.
Then it is bath time, and my husband, who is six feet four and built
like a college athlete, tenderly towels off our baby, making silly
noises and goofy faces before holding him high overhead until he
squeals with delight. Dad reads stories to the big boys while I nurse
the baby. We listen to prayers and the children go to sleep, secure
in the knowledge that Daddy is home.
Unfortunately, 15 million American children go to sleep every night
in a home without a father. And contrary to the feminist propaganda,
mothers cannot fill a father's role. What men bring to their
children is vital to their emotional, intellectual, sexual, moral and
spiritual development. Consider these statistics from the Family
-- At least one out of every three children experiencing a parental
separation "demonstrated a significant decline in academic
performance" persisting at least three years.
-- Even after taking into account the lower income in single-parent
families, the absence of a father has a significant negative effect
on the educational attainment of boys.
-- Compared with girls with intact nuclear families, girls who lose
their fathers by divorce are overly responsive to males, are more
likely to be sexually involved with males in adolescence, marry
younger, are more often pregnant before marriage and become divorced
or separated from their eventual husband more frequently.
-- Teens from disrupted families have more general health problems,
are more likely to have consulted a health professional regarding
emotional problems and are more likely to be sexually active than
children from intact families.
-- The best predictor of violent crime and burglary in a community is
not race or income, but the proportion of households without fathers.
-- Seventy percent of all juveniles in long-term correctional
facilities did not live with their fathers growing up.
-- Children in fatherless families are two to three times more likely
than children in two-parent families to have emotional and behavioral
-- Three fourths of all children of divorce have contact with their
fathers less than two days a month.
Fathers represent the real world to their children, placing them in a
broader social context. It is primarily to their fathers that
children look for guidance regarding how to behave in the world
beyond their home. Fathers are more often associated with behaviors
which challenge their children and stimulate them, where mothers
primarily guide and comfort them. One set of behaviors is not
superior to the other. Indeed, they complement one another.
Fathers are not expendable. Children need both parents. Makes a
strong case for working harder at staying married for the sake of the
children, doesn't it?
Foss is a freelance writer and managing editor of Welcome Home, a
magazine for mothers at home.
This article appeared in the February 9, 1995 issue of "The Arlington
Courtesy of the "Arlington Catholic Herald" diocesan newspaper of the
Arlington (VA) diocese. For subscription information, call
1-800-377-0511 or write 200 North Glebe Road, Suite 607 Arlington, VA