25 Reasons why Fathers Still Matter

ERLC

This is taken from the ERLC’s website and written by Joe Carter who originally posted it on June 16.

As the apostle Paul noted in Ephesians, the command to honor your father and mother is the first commandment with a promise. Children are called to obey their parents so “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”

Unfortunately, we now live in a land where half of parents—fathers—are rarely shown the honor due their role. While mothers are still rightly considered essential, fathers are viewed by our society as optional. The result of this demotion of fatherhood has lead not only to the destruction of our individual but to the weakening of our cultural foundations.

Christians, of course, should not need to be told the importance of fatherhood. The Bible is filled with dozens of passages on the significance of fathers and the responsibilities of fatherhood. But when making that case to a secular culture it can be helpful to be armed with empirical evidence of the reasons why fathers are essential to the well being of their children.

Here are 25 reasons based on social science studies that reveal the effects fathers—or their absence—have on children:

1. Fathers’ engagement in their children’s activities is linked to higher academic performance. (Source)

2. Among adolescent boys, those who receive more parenting from their fathers are less likely to exhibit anti-social and delinquent behaviors. (Source)

3. Among adolescent girls, those who have a strong relationship with their fathers are less likely to report experiencing depression. (Source)

4. Close father-adolescent bonds protect against the negative influence of peer drug use. (Source)

5. Adolescent girls who have a close relationship with their fathers are more likely to delay sexual activity. (Source)

6. Adolescent girls whose fathers were present during their childhood are less likely to become pregnant. (Source)

7. Adolescent males who report a close relationship with their fathers are more likely to anticipate having a stable marriage in the future. (Source)

8. On average, adolescents who spent time with fathers doing leisure activities, such as playing games, talking, visiting friends, and engaging in outdoor or athletic activities, reported being more engaged in and enjoying the activities. (Source)

9. Adolescents who spend more mealtimes with fathers together reported, on average, feeling more cheerful, happy, and good about themselves; less angry, irritated, frustrated; and less stressed. (Source)

10. Teens who experienced changes in their father’s presence in the home during early childhood reported, on average, lower grades. (Source)

11. Compared with peers who did not live in intact families, adults who had lived their childhood with both biological parents were more likely to agree that it is better to marry, that marriage is for a lifetime, and that children are better off with their biological parents. They are also more likely to disapprove of divorce and less likely to have children outside marriage. (Source)

12. Individuals who experienced parental absence in their childhood were more likely to have never married, less likely to be in an intact marriage, and more likely to be divorced. (Source)

13. For male adolescents, each change in parental marital status (e.g., divorce, remarriage, separation, etc.) between age six and 11 increased the males’ odds of engaging in sexual intercourse by 37 percent. (Source)

14. For female adolescents, the percentage of time from birth to age 11 spent in a single-parent home was related to age at first sexual intercourse. For each additional year spent in a single parent household, the likelihood that females would engage in sexual intercourse during adolescence increased by roughly 8 percent. (Source)

15. When compared to adolescent males that lived with both biological parents at age 14, those living with a single mother at age 14 had almost twice the odds of ever having impregnated a girl. (Source)

16. African-American boys who grow up in an intact home headed by their biological parents are less likely to end up delinquent than their peers growing up in a home without a father (Source)

17. Young African American men and women are significantly more likely to graduate from college if they hail from an intact biological family, compared to single-mother homes. (Source)

18. College-age women who did not have good relationships with their fathers have been found to have lower than normal cortisol levels, which are associated with be overly sensitive and overly reactive when confronted with stress. The low cortisol daughters were more likely than the higher cortisol daughters (who had the better relationships with their dads) to describe their relationships with men in stressful terms of rejection, unpredictability or coercion. (Source)

19. Although father absence does not seem to have consistent effects on children’s cognitive test scores, there is consistent evidence that father absence lowers children’s educational attainment and decreases the likelihood that they will graduate from high school. (Source)

20. Studies on substance abuse have found that father absence affects their children’s likelihood of smoking cigarettes and using drugs and alcohol. (Source)

21. Adolescents who reported having closer relationships with their fathers tended to report lower levels of psychological distress (e.g., how often they feel sad, tense, lonely, excited, happy) compared to peers who reported being less close with their fathers, controlling for family structure, adolescents’ age, gender, race/ethnicity, family income, and relationships with their mothers. (Source)

22. Adolescents who reported having more positive relationships with their fathers were less likely to be arrested, sell drugs, attack another individual, carry a handgun, belong to a gang, damage or destroy property, steal, run away, or receive/ possess/sell stolen property compared to peers who reported having less positive relationships with their fathers.  (Source)

23. Children whose fathers who showed more involvement with them at age seven (that is, more outings with fathers, more frequently read to by fathers, more interest shown by fathers in their education) tended to have higher levels of educational attainment as young adults than peers whose fathers showed less involvement early on. (Source)

24. Throughout childhood (from birth, infancy to age four, age five to nine, age 10 to 14, and age 15 to 17), growing up without a father was associated with higher odds of incarceration later in life, even after controlling for mother’s education, whether or not mother gave birth as a teen, race, urban and regional residence, neighborhood socioeconomic status, family income, family size, and age. Individuals who grew up in households without ever experiencing the presence of a father tended to have the highest odds of incarceration. (Source)

25. Children in father-absent homes are almost four times more likely to be poor. In 2011, 12 percent of children in married-couple families were living in poverty, compared to 44 percent of children in mother-only families. (Source)

 

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