A myriad of maladies. Fatherless children are at a
dramatically greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness,
suicide, poor educational performance, teen pregnancy, and
Source: U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services, National Center for Health Statistics,
Survey on Child Health, Washington, DC,
Drinking problems. Teenagers living in single-parent
households are more likely to abuse alcohol and at an earlier age
compared to children reared in two-parent
Source: Terry E. Duncan, Susan C. Duncan
and Hyman Hops, "The Effects of Family Cohesiveness and Peer
Encouragement on the Development of Adolescent Alcohol Use: A
Cohort-Sequential Approach to the Analysis of Longitudinal
Data," Journal of Studies on Alcohol 55
Drug Use: "...the absence of the father in the home
affects significantly the behavior of adolescents and results in the
greater use of alcohol and marijuana."
Scott Berman, "Risk Factors Leading to Adolescent Substance Abuse,"
Adolescence 30 (1995)
Sexual abuse. A study of 156 victims of child sexual
abuse found that the majority of the children came from disrupted or
single-parent homes; only 31 percent of the children lived with both
biological parents. Although stepfamilies make up only about 10 percent
of all families, 27 percent of the abused children lived with either a
stepfather or the mother's boyfriend.
Beverly Gomes-Schwartz, Jonathan Horowitz, and Albert P. Cardarelli,
"Child Sexual Abuse Victims and Their Treatment," U.S. Department of
Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
Child Abuse. Researchers in Michigan determined that
"49 percent of all child abuse cases are committed by single
Source: Joan Ditson and Sharon Shay, "A
Study of Child Abuse in Lansing, Michigan," Child Abuse and
Neglect, 8 (1984).
Deadly predictions. A family structure index -- a
composite index based on the annual rate of children involved in divorce
and the percentage of families with children present that are
female-headed -- is a strong predictor of suicide among young adult and
adolescent white males.
Source: Patricia L. McCall
and Kenneth C. Land, "Trends in White Male Adolescent, Young-Adult and
Elderly Suicide: Are There Common Underlying Structural Factors?"
Social Science Research 23, 1994.
High risk. Fatherless children are at dramatically
greater risk of suicide.
Source: U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services, National Center for Health Statistics,
Survey on Child Health, Washington, DC,
Suicidal Tendencies. In a study of 146 adolescent
friends of 26 adolescent suicide victims, teens living in single-parent
families are not only more likely to commit suicide but also more likely
to suffer from psychological disorders, when compared to teens living in
Source: David A. Brent, et al.
"Post-traumatic Stress Disorder in Peers of Adolescent Suicide Victims:
Predisposing Factors and Phenomenology." Journal of the American
Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 34, 1995.
Confused identities. Boys who grow up in
father-absent homes are more likely that those in father-present homes
to have trouble establishing appropriate sex roles and gender
Source: P.L. Adams, J.R. Milner, and N.A.
Schrepf, Fatherless Children, New York, Wiley Press, 1984.
Psychiatric Problems. In 1988, a study of preschool
children admitted to New Orleans hospitals as psychiatric patients over
a 34-month period found that nearly 80 percent came from fatherless
Source: Jack Block, et al. "Parental
Functioning and the Home Environment in Families of Divorce,"
Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent
Psychiatry, 27 (1988)
Emotional distress. Children living with a
never-married mother are more likely to have been treated for emotional
Source: L. Remez, "Children Who Don't Live
with Both Parents Face Behavioral Problems," Family Planning
Perspectives (January/February 1992).
Uncooperative kids. Children reared by a divorced or
never-married mother are less cooperative and score lower on tests of
intelligence than children reared in intact families. Statistical
analysis of the behavior and intelligence of these children revealed
"significant detrimental effects" of living in a female-headed
household. Growing up in a female-headed household remained a
statistical predictor of behavior problems even after adjusting for
differences in family income.
Source: Greg L.
Duncan, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn and Pamela Kato Klebanov, "Economic
Deprivation and Early Childhood Development," Child Development
Unstable families, unstable lives.
Compared to peers in two-parent homes, black children in single-parent
households are more likely to engage in troublesome behavior, and
perform poorly in school.
Source: Tom Luster and
Hariette Pipes McAdoo, "Factors Related to the Achievement and
Adjustment of Young African-American Children." Child
Development 65 (1994): 1080-1094
Beyond class lines. Even controlling for variations
across groups in parent education, race and other child and family
factors, 18- to 22-year-olds from disrupted families were twice as
likely to have poor relationships with their mothers and fathers, to
show high levels of emotional distress or problem behavior, [and] to
have received psychological help.
Zill, Donna Morrison, and Mary Jo Coiro, "Long Term Effects of Parental
Divorce on Parent-Child Relationships, Adjustment and Achievement in
Young Adulthood." Journal of Family Psychology 7 (1993).
Fatherly influence. Children with fathers at home
tend to do better in school, are less prone to depression and are more
successful in relationships. Children from one-parent families achieve
less and get into trouble more than children from two parent
Source: One Parent Families and Their
Children: The School's Most Significant Minority, conducted by The
Consortium for the Study of School Needs of Children from One Parent
Families, co sponsored by the National Association of Elementary School
Principals and the Institute for Development of Educational Activities,
a division of the Charles F. Kettering Foundation, Arlington, VA.,
Divorce disorders. Children whose parents separate
are significantly more likely to engage in early sexual activity, abuse
drugs, and experience conduct and mood disorders. This effect is
especially strong for children whose parents separated when they were
five years old or younger.
Source: David M.
Fergusson, John Horwood and Michael T. Lynsky, "Parental Separation,
Adolescent Psychopathology, and Problem Behaviors," Journal of the
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 33 (1944).
Troubled marriages, troubled kids. Compared to peers
living with both biological parents, sons and daughters of divorced or
separated parents exhibited significantly more conduct problems.
Daughters of divorced or separated mothers evidenced significantly
higher rates of internalizing problems, such as anxiety or
Source: Denise B. Kandel, Emily
Rosenbaum and Kevin Chen, "Impact of Maternal Drug Use and Life
Experiences on Preadolescent Children Born to Teenage Mothers,"
Journal of Marriage and the Family56 (1994).
Hungry for love. "Father hunger" often afflicts boys
age one and two whose fathers are suddenly and permanently absent. Sleep
disturbances, such as trouble falling asleep, nightmares, and night
terrors frequently begin within one to three months after the father
Source: Alfred A. Messer, "Boys Father
Hunger: The Missing Father Syndrome," Medical Aspects of Human
Sexuality, January 1989.
Disturbing news: Children of never-married mothers
are more than twice as likely to have been treated for an emotional or
Source: U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services, National Center for Health Statistics,
National Health Interview Survey, Hyattsille, MD, 1988
Poor and in trouble: A 1988 Department of Health and
Human Services study found that at every income level except the very
highest (over $50,000 a year), children living with never-married
mothers were more likely than their counterparts in two-parent families
to have been expelled or suspended from school, to display emotional
problems, and to engage in antisocial
Source: James Q. Wilson, "In Loco
Parentis: Helping Children When Families Fail Them," The Brookings
Review, Fall 1993.
Fatherless aggression: In a longitudinal study of
1,197 fourth-grade students, researchers observed "greater levels of
aggression in boys from mother-only households than from boys in
Source: N. Vaden-Kierman,
N. Ialongo, J. Pearson, and S. Kellam, "Household Family Structure and
Children's Aggressive Behavior: A Longitudinal Study of Urban Elementary
School Children," Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 23, no.
Act now, pay later: "Children from mother-only
families have less of an ability to delay gratification and poorer
impulse control (that is, control over anger and sexual gratification.)
These children also have a weaker sense of conscience or sense of right
Source: E.M. Hetherington and B. Martin,
"Family Interaction" in H.C. Quay and J.S. Werry (eds.),
Psychopathological Disorders of Childhood. (New York: John
Wiley & Sons, 1979)
Crazy victims: Eighty percent of adolescents in
psychiatric hospitals come from broken homes.
J.B. Elshtain, "Family Matters...", Christian Century, July
Duh to dead: "The economic consequences of a
[father's] absence are often accompanied by psychological consequences,
which include higher-than-average levels of youth suicide, low
intellectual and education performance, and higher-than-average rates of
mental illness, violence and drug use."
William Galston, Elaine Kamarck. Progressive Policy Institute.
Expelled: Nationally, 15.3 percent of children
living with a never-married mother and 10.7 percent of children living
with a divorced mother have been expelled or suspended from school,
compared to only 4.4 percent of children living with both biological
Source: Debra Dawson, "Family
Structure...", Journal of Marriage and Family, No. 53. 1991.
Violent rejection: Kids who exhibited violent
behavior at school were 11 times as likely not to live with their
fathers and six times as likely to have parents who were not married.
Boys from families with absent fathers are at higher risk for violent
behavior than boys from intact families.
J.L. Sheline (et al.), "Risk Factors...", American Journal of
Public Health, No. 84. 1994.
That crowd: Children without fathers or with
stepfathers were less likely to have friends who think it's important to
behave properly in school. They also exhibit more problems with behavior
and in achieving goals.
Source: Nicholas Zill, C. W.
Nord, "Running in Place," Child Trends, Inc. 1994.
Likeliest to succeed: Kids who live with both
biological parents at age 14 are significantly more likely to graduate
from high school than those kids who live with a single parent, a parent
and step-parent, or neither parent.
Sandefur (et al.), "The Effects of Parental Marital Status...",
Social Forces, September 1992.
Worse to bad: Children in single-parent families
tend to score lower on standardized tests and to receive lower grades in
school. Children in single-parent families are nearly twice as likely to
drop out of school as children from two-parent
Source: J.B. Stedman (et al.), "Dropping
Out," Congressional Research Service Report No 88-417. 1988.
College odds: Children from disrupted families are
20 percent more unlikely to attend college than kids from intact,
Source: J. Wallerstein, Family
Law Quarterly, 20. (Summer 1986)
On their own: Kids living in single-parent homes or
in step-families report lower educational expectations on the part of
their parents, less parental monitoring of school work, and less overall
social supervision than children from intact
Source: N.M. Astore and S. McLanahan,
Americican Sociological Review, No. 56 (1991)
Double-risk: Fatherless children -- kids living in
homes without a stepfather or without contact with their biological
father -- are twice as likely to drop out of school.
U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Survey on Child
Repeat, repeat: Nationally, 29.7 percent of children
living with a never-married mother and 21.5 percent of children living
with a divorced mother have repeated at least one grade in school,
compared to 11.6 percent of children living with both biological
Source: Debra Dawson, "Family Structure and Children's
Well-Being," Journals of Marriage and Family, No. 53. (1991).
Underpaid high achievers: Children from low-income,
two-parent families outperform students from high-income, single-parent
homes. Almost twice as many high achievers come from two-parent homes as
Source: "One-Parent Families and
Their Children;" Charles F. Kettering Foundation (1990).
Dadless and dumb: At least one-third of children experiencing
a parental separation "demonstrated a significant decline in academic
performance" persisting at least three years.
L.M.C. Bisnairs (et al.), American Journal of
Orthopsychiatry, no. 60 (1990)
Son of Solo: According to a recent study of young,
non-custodial fathers who are behind on child support payments, less
than half of these men were living with their own father at age 14.
Slip-sliding: Among black children between the ages of 6 to 9
years old, black children in mother-only households scored significantly
lower on tests of intellectual ability, than black children living with
Source: Luster and McAdoo, Child
Development 65. 1994.
Dadless dropouts: After taking into account race,
socio-economic status, sex, age and ability, high school students from
single-parent households were 1.7 times more likely to drop out than
were their corresponding counterparts living with both biological
Source: Ralph McNeal, Sociology of Education
Takes two: Families in which both the child's biological or
adoptive parents are present in the household show significantly higher
levels of parental involvement in the child's school activities than do
mother-only families or step-families.
Source: Zill and Nord,
"Running in Place." Child Trends. 1994
Con garden: Forty-three percent of prison inmates grew up in a
single-parent household -- 39 percent with their mothers, 4 percent with
their fathers -- and an additional 14 percent lived in households
without either biological parent. Another 14 percent had spent at last
part of their childhood in a foster home, agency or other juvenile
Source: US Bureau of Justice Statistics, Survey
of State Prison Inmates. 1991
Criminal moms, criminal kids: The children of single teenage
mothers are more at risk for later criminal behavior. In the case of a
teenage mother, the absence of a father also increases the risk of
harshness from the mother.
Source: M. Mourash, L. Rucker,
Crime and Delinquency 35. 1989.
Rearing rapists: Seventy-two percent of adolescent murderers
grew up without fathers. Sixty percent of America's rapists grew up the
Source: D. Cornell (et al.), Behavioral Sciences
and the Law, 5. 1987. And N. Davidson, "Life Without Father,"
Policy Review. 1990.
Crime and poverty: The proportion of single-parent households
in a community predicts its rate of violent crime and burglary, but the
community's poverty level does not.
Source: D.A. Smith and
G.R. Jarjoura, "Social Structure and Criminal Victimization," Journal
of Research in Crime and Delinquency 25. 1988.
Marriage matters: Only 13 percent of juvenile delinquents come
from families in which the biological mother and father are married to
each other. By contract, 33 percent have parents who are either divorced
or separated and 44 percent have parents who were never
Source: Wisconsin Dept. of Health and Social
Services, April 1994.
No good time: Compared to boys from intact, two-parent
families, teenage boys from disrupted families are not only more likely
to be incarcerated for delinquent offenses, but also to manifest worse
conduct while incarcerated.
Source: M Eileen Matlock et al.,
"Family Correlates of Social Skills..." Adolescence 29.
Count 'em: Seventy percent of juveniles in state reform
institutions grew up in single- or no-parent situations.
Alan Beck et al., Survey of Youth in Custody, 1987, US Bureau
of Justice Statistics, 1988.
The Main Thing: The relationship between family structure and
crime is so strong that controlling for family configuration erases the
relationship between race and crime and between low income and crime.
This conclusion shows up time and again in the literature.
E. Kamarck, William Galston, Putting Children First,
Progressive Policy Inst. 1990
Examples: Teenage fathers are more likely than their childless
peers to commit and be convicted of illegal activity, and their offenses
are of a more serious nature.
Source: M.A. Pirog-Good, "Teen
Father and the Child Support System," in Paternity Establishment,
Institute for research on Poverty, Univ. of Wisconsin. 1992.
The 'hood The likelihood that a young male will engage in
criminal activity doubles if he is raised without a father and triples
if he lives in a neighborhood with a high concentration of single-parent
Source: A. Anne Hill, June O'Neill, "Underclass
Behaviors in the United States," CUNY, Baruch College. 1993
Bringing the war back home The odds that a boy born in America
in 1974 will be murdered are higher than the odds that a serviceman in
World War II would be killed in combat.
Source: US Sen. Phil
Get ahead at home and at work: Fathers who cared for their
children intellectual development and their adolescent's social
development were more like to advance in their careers, compared to men
who weren't involved in such activities.
Source: J. Snarey,
How Fathers Care for the Next Generation.Harvard Univ.
Diaper dads: In 1991, about 20 percent of preschool children
were cared for by their fathers -- both married and single. In 1988, the
number was 15 percent.
Source: M. O'Connell, "Where's Papa?
Father's Role in Child Care," Population Reference Bureau. 1993.
Without leave: Sixty-three percent of 1500 CEOs and human
resource directors said it was not reasonable for a father to take a
leave after the birth of a child.
Source: J.H. Pleck, "Family
Supportive Employer Policies," Center for research in Women.
Get a job: The number of men who complain that work conflicts
with their family responsibilities rose from 12 percent in 1977 to 72
percent in 1989. Meanwhile, 74 percent of men prefer a "daddy track" job
to a "fast track" job.
Source: James Levine, The Fatherhood
Long-distance dads: Twenty-six percent of absent fathers live
in a different state than their children.
Source: US Bureau of
the Census, Statistical Brief . 1991.
Cool Dad of the Week: Among fathers who maintain contact with
their children after a divorce, the pattern of the relationship between
father-and-child changes. They begin to behave more like relatives than
like parents. Instead of helping with homework, nonresident dads are
more likely to take the kids shopping, to the movies, or out to dinner.
Instead of providing steady advice and guidance, divorced fathers become
Source: F. Furstenberg, A. Cherlin, Divided
Families . Harvard Univ. Press. 1991.
Older's not wiser: While 57 percent of unwed dads with kids no
older than two visit their children more than once a week, by the time
the kid's seven and a half, only 23 percent are in frequent contact with
Source: R. Lerman and Theodora Ooms, Young
Unwed Fathers . 1993.
Ten years after: Ten years after the breakup of a marriage,
more than two-thirds of kids report not having seen their father for a
Source: National Commission on Children, Speaking of
No such address: More than half the kids who don't live with
their father have never been in their father's house.
F. Furstenberg, A. Cherlin, Divided Families. Harvard Univ. Press.
Dadless years: About 40 percent of the kids living in
fatherless homes haven't seen their dads in a year or more. Of the rest,
only one in five sleeps even one night a month at the father's home. And
only one in six sees their father once or more per week.
F. Furstenberg, A. Cherlin, Divided Families. Harvard Univ. Press.
Measuring up? According to a 1992 Gallup poll, more than 50
percent of all adults agreed that fathers today spend less time with
their kids than their fathers did with them.
national random sample conducted for the National Center for Fathering,
Father unknown. Of kids living in single-mom households, 35
percent never see their fathers, and another 24 percent see their
fathers less than once a month.
Source: J.A. Selzer,
"Children's Contact with Absent Parents," Journal of Marriage and the
Family, 50 (1988).
Missed contact: In a study of 304 young adults, those whose
parents divorced after they left home had significantly less contact
with their fathers than adult children who parents remained married.
Weekly contact with their children dropped from 78 percent for
still-married fathers to 44 percent for divorced fathers.
William Aquilino, "Later Life Parental Divorce and Widowhood,"
Journal of Marriage and the Family 56. 1994.
Commercial breaks: The amount of time a father spends with his
child -- one-on-one -- averages less than 10 minutes a
Source: J. P. Robinson, et al., "The Rhythm of Everyday
Life." Westview Press. 1988
High risk: Overall, more than 75 percent of American children
are at risk because of paternal deprivation. Even in two-parent homes,
fewer than 25 percent of young boys and girls experience an average of
at least one hour a day of relatively individualized contact with their
Source: Henry Biller, "The Father Factor..." a paper
based on presentations during meetings with William Galston, Deputy
Director, Domestic Policy, Clinton White House, December 1993 and April
Knock, knock: Of children age 5 to 14, 1.6 million return home
to houses where there is no adult present.
Source: U.S. Bureau
of the Census, "Who's Minding the Kids?" Statistical Brief. April
Who said talk's cheap? Almost 20 percent of sixth- through
twelfth-graders have not had a good conversation lasting for at least 10
minutes with at least one of their parents in more than a
Source: Peter Benson, "The Troubled Journey." Search
Justified guilt. A 1990 L.A. Times poll found that 57 percent
of all fathers and 55 percent of all mothers feel guilty about not
spending enough time with their children.
Source: Lynn Smith
and Bob Sipchen, "Two Career Family Dilemma," Los Angeles Times, Aug.
Who are you, mister? In 1965, parents on average spent
approximately 30 hours a week with their kids. By 1985, the amount of
time had fallen to 17 hours.
Source: William Mattox, "The
Parent Trap." Policy Review. Winter, 1991.
Waiting Works: Only eight percent of those who finished high
school, got married before having a child, and waited until age 20 to
have that child were living in poverty in 1992.
William Galston, "Beyond the Murphy Brown Debate." Institute for Family
Values. Dec. 10, 1993.