So I did a research paper for my Sociology class on children without fathers in their lives. Keep in mind a few things while reading this: 1. I wanted to get this finished as quickly as possible. Which means that I did not proof-read this. I merely typed it out and turned it in. Sorry if it doesn't flow or if there are grammatical/spelling errors. 2. There was SO MUCH that I wanted to put inside this paper. I could have easily written 20 pages on this topic, but I was only allowed 4 pages. So again, sorry if it seems choppy or un-flowy. Enjoy!
Intimacy between a Father and His Children
Some fathers are not present during their children’s lives. Some fathers are technically present during their children’s lives, but they may as well not be because instead they are abusive, bad role models or too consumed in their jobs to even notice their children. Today, American society continues to find itself asking the question, “Where are the fathers?” more and more frequently. That question should be followed by, “What effect is it having on their children?” or even more specifically, “What effect is it having on their sons?”
Children of abusive fathers suffer just as much, if not more than children without fathers. Fathers can be abusive emotionally or physically, either way will eventually take its toll on their children. Children of physically abusive fathers tend to be nervous and timid. Many children of abusive fathers say that they would wait until their fathers got home to determine their moods, which would in turn dictate their actions around their fathers (Gordon, pg. 55) Alcohol is a huge contributing factor in abusive fathers.
A staggering statistic says that “almost one-third [children of alcoholics] had been physically abused and one-fifth sexually abused…in 60 percent of these cases this parent was the father.” (Gordon, pg. 55) The statistic goes on to say that 40 percent of daughters of alcoholics who were physically and/or sexually abused by their fathers report spousal abuse in their families. This statistic was about three to four times higher than daughters raised in nonalcoholic homes without abuse.
Physical abuse is degrading to a child’s ego, but even more disheartening to a child’s ego is being verbally abused. The common saying, “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me” should be thrown out the window immediately. The deepest yearning within every child is to be accepted and loved by his/her parent. When parents call their children names, tell them that they are worthless or use hostile tones of voices, they are ruining their child’s self-esteem and causing their children to believe their words: that they are worthless. These feelings of shame do not easily leave a child. They remain with them for years after they were said. Philip Greven once said, “The feelings generated by the pain…are mostly repressed, forgotten, and denied, but they actually never disappear. Everything remains in our innermost beings.” (Gordon, pg. 56)
Intimacy is defined as “experiencing intense intellectual, emotion, and, when appropriate, physical communion with another human being.” Children who are verbally abused, conditionally loved, or completely unloved and unwanted by fathers tend to grow up feeling like they do not deserve the love of others. They grow up lacking true intimacy with their fathers and with the mentality that they are not worth love, nor can they ever be good enough to deserve love. It is a vicious cycle that tends to eat away at abused children later on in their lives, which make it hard to love their spouses and children, or for them to feel like they deserve the love of their spouses and children.
Sons need the most love and acceptance from their fathers. Daughters also need love and acceptance from their fathers, but it does not shape them into who they become. Sons tend to find their identities in their fathers. Rodney Atkins puts it well in his song titled, “Watching You.” The chorus goes as follows:
He said I've been watching you dad, ain't that cool
I'm your buckaroo, I wanna be like you
And eat all my food and grow as tall as you are
We like fixing things and holding mama's hand
Yeah we're just alike, hey ain't we dad
I wanna do everything you do
So I've been watching you (Atkins)
This son pays a lot of attention to his dad and his actions. He is his dad’s “bud” or his “buckaroo” and he has noticed that his dad eats all of his food at dinner time, and since he wants to be tall and strong like his dad, he is going to eat all of his food also. He has taken a liking to fixing things, which generally is perceived as a masculine job, just like his dad does. He has been able to see that his dad respects his mom and the son likes holding his mom’s hand and loving her just like his dad. He is finding his identity in his father. Children often times grow up confused and questioning themselves when they do not have good role models and fathers to look up to.
Equally as bad to being an abusive father, is being an absent father. Statistics of neighborhoods with fewer fathers are much higher in violence than neighborhoods with fathers. James Q. Wilson says that, “Neighborhood standards may be set by mothers, but they are enforced by fathers, or at least by adult males.” (Blankenhorn, pg. 31) Blankenhorn alludes to the fact that the usually generalized link between masculinity and violence should be thrown out the window. Instead the reason for more violence does not have to do with traditional male norms, but with the decline of traditional male roles in our society. If we want to see less violence, then we need to be seeing more fathers. (Blankenhorn, pg. 31)
Research has also shown that daughters of absent fathers are much more prone to being involved in early sexual activity and teenage pregnancy. An absolutely mind-blowing statistic says that “daughters of single parents are 53% more likely to marry as teenagers, 111% more likely to have children as teenagers, 164% more likely to have a premarital birth and 92% more likely to dissolve their own marriages.” (Blankenhorn, pg. 46) According to Beth Erickson, “Fatherless children are….twice as likely to drop out of high school, 2.5 times as likely to become teen-aged mothers and 1.4 times as likely to be…out of school and out of work.”(Erickson, pg. 68)
American fathers are causing future generations to be lost, unable to work or make decisions and unsure of themselves. America’s fathers are giving the government more and more reason to continue to put their money into prison systems, if only these fathers would have stayed in their children’s lives so that they could prevent their children from growing up in violence. More marriages would be saved because husbands or wives would not be so insecure with their spouses because they are still holding onto the lack of love that they were shown when they were a child. Because of the growing lack of intimacy between fathers and their children, America’s future generations are nothing but a bunch of cowards who can only hear the lies that their fathers spoke to them through their abuse, their silence or their distance. These children need fathers, or else American men need to grow up and take charge before it is too late.