Saturday, June 27, 2009

New Data on Fathers and their Children

Two recent articles on the relationship between fathers and their children give new data on this important issue. The articles are Our Fatherhood Crisis , by Glenn Sacks and Robert Franklin, published on June 21, 2009 in The Washington Times (, and Obama’s Father’s Day Criticism of Dads Misses Mark by Glenn Sacks and Robert Franklin ( I want to quote some of the most relevant facts that appeared on these articles:

1 - Professor Rebekah Levine Coley lead a recent Boston College study of low-income minority families, and found that when nonresident fathers are involved in their adolescent children's lives, they worked as an important protective factor, decreasing markedly the incidence of substance abuse, violence, and delinquency.
Writing about this study, MSNBC health and science writer Linda Carroll explains that:

"When it comes to preventing risky teen sex, there may be no better deterrent than a doting dad. Teenagers whose fathers are more involved in their lives are less likely to engage in risky sexual activities such as unprotected intercourse, according to a new study...While an involved mother can also help stave off a teen's sexual activity, dads have twice the influence."

2 - Professors Kathryn Edin of Harvard and Timothy Nelson of the University of Pennsylvania conducted a study of low-income, unmarried fathers and found that most strive to be good parents but often are thwarted by the children's mothers' interference. They found that these dads provide what monetary support they could, but focused on the non-financial aspects of fatherhood. These aspects include educating their daughters about relationships with males and teaching their sons how to defend themselves.

Ms. Edin's soon-to-be-published subsequent studies (Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing) found that when mothers move on to have new partners their actions are "strongly associated with increases in the probability that the biological father will have no contact with his child.” When fathers move on to have subsequent partners and children, they largely retain their desire to be in their original children's lives. According to Ms. Edin: "The evidence points more strongly to the role of mothers 'swapping daddies' than it does to the role of fathers 'swapping kids.'" A single mother's new partnership "may provide strong motivation [for her] to put the new partner in the 'daddy' role." The biological father is then less likely to be involved because the mother is more likely to exclude him and/or because he may feel he's now redundant.

When a mother wants to exclude her children's father from their lives, she can push him out easily. Family courts usually award custody to mothers, and are extremely lazy enforcing fathers' visitation rights. In most states, mothers are allowed to move their children thousands of miles away from the children's fathers, destroying the fathers' bonds with their children.

3 - Dr. Perry Crouch is a gang intervention specialist in Los Angeles. He states that only about half of one percent of the gang members he deals with have fathers in their lives.

4 - Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, after examining hundreds of pre-sentencing reports detailing the family histories of convicted criminals, found that the common denominator of those cases was that one parent, usually the father, was missing from the home.

5 - In Growing Up With a Single Parent: What Hurts, What Helps, sociologists Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur analyzed data from five different studies and concluded that children of single parent families are more than twice as likely to drop out of high school as their peers with two parents, they're also less likely to go to college if they do finish high school, and more likely to be both out of school and out of work, proving that fathers and educational performance are also strongly linked.

6 - The Urban Institute report titled What About the Dads? tells that even when fathers inform child welfare officials that they would like their children to live with them, the agencies seek to place the children in the foster care system instead, pushing fathers away from their children.

Readers should also check out the statistics on these issues gathered by the people of Fathers and Families:

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