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A Look at Father Presence vs. Father Absence


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No one will ever be a perfect earthly parent. There are parents who do their best, but their children do not fully reflect it. God was a perfect parent to Adam and Eve and they still disobeyed and failed in the Garden of Eden. This post is not about singling out anyone’s personal parenting techniques. My goal is to address the overall importance of fathers and some consequences of their absences.

I think good fathers are underrated. I am so grateful above all to my heavenly Father for everything. I’m also grateful for my father and other earthly fathers who reproduce and then love, lead, provide for, train and protect their children. Fatherhood is super important! This fact is a reminder for ladies to hold themselves to a high standard and to do the same for the man they choose to marry and have a family with.

It is very important for a woman to choose wisely the man who will father her children.

What we can see nowadays, is that a lot of women are marrying later in life or are hesitant to marry in the first place. While some people in religious circles complain that the birth rate is lower, they don’t seem to understand or acknowledge some of the reasons for this. Plenty women are being a lot more careful and selective now, as they should be.

What is well-known and well-documented is that father absenteeism negatively affects children and households in a major way. However, a man being a good and present father profoundly affects both sons and daughters in many positive ways.

According to the Rochester Area Fatherhood Network Research and Statistics report:

• 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (U.S. Dept. Of Health/Census) – 5 times the average.

• 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes – 32 times the average.

• 85% of all children who show behavior disorders come from fatherless homes – 20 times the average (Center for Disease Control).

80% of rapists with anger problems come from fatherless homes –14 times the average (Justice & Behavior, Vol. 14, p. 403-26) [1].

This is just the tip of the iceberg for statistics on father absenteeism and how it impacts children and societies overall. Both sons and daughters suffer from parent absenteeism. Mother absenteeism is devastating also. For various reasons, it is typically the father who is more often absent.

In this post, I will focus mainly on the current crisis we have of father absenteeism and how it is negatively affecting the development of their sons’ transitions into manhood. Often, boys do not develop into men of integrity when their fathers are not present, positive examples in their lives.

Parents having a physical presence in the lives of their children is not enough, though physical presence is very necessary.

Some fathers are physically present in their son’s lives, but their presences may be abusive, neglectful, and not affirming. Absenteeism obviously is not limited to physical absence alone. The broader issue is not simply whether a parent is physically present or not. Part of being absent comes in when a father is absent from demonstrating properly and training his son to be a man of integrity.

Plenty fathers encourage their sons in regards to financial and corporate success, as well as athletic performance. Being professionally successful and a star athlete does not make a man a noble man. Some boys lack training in learning how to cultivate and maintain healthy relationships. Some are without training that is a result of a lack of paternal demonstration on how to be a faithful husband who values monogamy, his wife and women in general.

Boys can be heavily influenced by music, locker room talks, peers and various toxic, anti-female social and cultural pressures. The demonstrations and emphatic instructions of fathers are desperately needed to counteract toxic cultural influences their sons will be exposed to. Yet, this kind of proper paternal influence is not there for some sons. The same is true for mothers; they can be present physically, but are absent in other ways. Therefore, they are not influencing their children correctly.

Children typically learn a lot about romantic love from their parents. A son watching his father with his mother gets ideas on how to love and treat a woman. Likewise, a daughter learns how to love and treat her husband by watching how her mother treats her father. Not surprisingly, some children see examples from their parents that are not helpful. It is no surprise that some men don’t know how to love their wives, or wives don’t know how to love their husbands, because they have a wrong idea of what love is, based on poor examples they were shown by their parents.

In addition, for various reasons, some men have contempt for women. They want to have a woman, but they do not respect or even like women. These types of men are almost always either in a relationship or married, though. Some men’s hearts are closed for business, but their pants are unzipped at every opportunity. This has been glorified and encouraged by our society. Many fathers have failed to rebuke or reprimand these behaviors in their sons.

Besides this, we live in a culture that has not encouraged men to cultivate healthy relationships and to choose to love one woman, as much as it encouraged men to perform well corporately, and also to sow their oats in as many places as possible.

The goal of some men has been to get as much sex from as many women as possible and take on as little responsibility as possible. Oddly enough, living out these goals has been falsely affirming for some of them. As if such behavior is a badge of honor. However, thorough and proper parenting can counteract dangerous cultural influences and wrong behaviors.

• Learning is a process that is ongoing. It is important to learn what it means to truly love. Men and women both tend to need substantial healing.

• Often, we need to unlearn some things we have witnessed and gone through before we can learn to love and have healthy relationships.

Having learned to bottle up their pain, learned not to seek help (supposedly so that they don’t appear weak), and to chase wrong affirmations, some men do not heal. They self-medicate with womanizing, pornography, other addictions and corporate achievements. They keep themselves distracted from actual internal healing. They may relish in corporate success, but often, they are unwell inside. They often become husbands and/or fathers.

Yet, behind the scenes, some project their pain and anger onto their wives and children. Others are unmarried, but still cause a lot of problems for their girlfriends and children. Some of their women fuel the problem by supporting and rewarding their behavior by staying with them, even in dysfunctional and dangerous situations.

I’m not saying parents are always to blame or that they hold any of the blame for their children’s behaviors. Individuals, including adult offspring choose their own paths. However, parents are highly influential in the lives of their offspring.

The importance of fatherhood transcends the human race. In the animal kingdom, father absenteeism can have devastating effects as well.

An article titled “In the absence of fathers: A story of elephants and men” is written by Gordon J MacRae [2]. In this article, he discusses a story written by Dr Wade Horn, president of the National Fatherhood Initiative. Dr. Horn’s article is titled “Of Elephants and Men.”

The story is of how juvenile bull elephants became unruly only when they were separated from older adult bull elephants. They were violent, aggressive and were caught on camera gorging and killing rhinos in their testosterone-fueled frenzies.

The older bulls usually kept the younger ones in line, but when the people separated the youngsters from the older bulls, that is when the younger bulls began to behave this way. Furthermore, Gordon MacRae writes on how Dr. Wade tells of a similar problem in Central Park. Young men were harassing women, robbing and victimizing people in the park.

They were behaving in an uncivilized manner. Dr Wade points out that increasing police presence is not the answer to solving the root cause of such behavior. He asked, where were these young men’s fathers? Exactly. It was discovered that these young men’s fathers had been absent in their lives. Dr. Wade pointed out that the fathers were busy doing things other than being the right role models for their sons. This is an all too common problem.

While their own fathers were not around, the young men’s role models were other men who behaved in an unlawful manner, and they were copying the unlawful behavior. When biological fathers do not play the role of father to their sons, someone else will. Having an absent father was not an excuse for the bad behaviors, but it is what influenced their bad behaviors.

Dr. Horn also pointed out that police cannot replace fathers.

He pointed out that fathers are responsible for teaching and training sons to protect and not to assault the vulnerable [2]. Fathers are responsible for teaching and demonstrating lawful behavior for their children in general. Certainly, mothers should be involved in doing the same.

May God restore families. God cares very much about people and their households running correctly, according to His will. Not only is this glorifying to God, but children being raised correctly would help men and women be more healthy and have an easier time finding a suitable life partner also.

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”  Malachi 4: 5-6.

Is the government responsible for some fathers being absent?

There are some who blame the system and claim that the government “took fathers out of the homes.” In fact, some are claiming that father absenteeism is a myth. This is not true. Fit fathers who are doing the right thing are not likely targeted by the government and removed from their homes.

How can the government keep a man who is good to his children, safe for them and wants to be in their lives away from them? The truth of the matter is that although some women are malicious and weaponize the children, if a father is fit and truly wants to be in his child’s life, he will be in his child’s life. Lots of fathers are very good fathers to their children. I highly doubt they will truthfully report being removed from their homes from the government as a result.

What grounds would the government have to remove them from their homes? Other biological fathers have proven to be deadbeats, and some have proven themselves to be harmful to their children. In these cases, social services rightfully intervenes. When it comes to a man who truly wants to see his children, even if the woman is playing unfair and tries to keep him from seeing his children, how can she, if he has not given the authorities reasons to be concerned about the safety of his child or children?

He will make sure of it. He will fight to make it come to pass. The government will have no grounds whatsoever to keep a man from his children if he is doing right. There must be valid reasons to deny joint custody or time spent with one’s children. Yes, some courts are known to be biased, but again, I truly believe a man who desires to not only be a financial provider, but to be present in his child’s life will fight and see to it that he is. May families be healed and restored. I pray we not be insensitive to the plights of each other. It is important to pray and care for one another.

I pray that God changes hearts and minds so that people submit to Him, resist the adversary and love one another as God calls us to. Sin is the reason for violence, hate and other evil. The unhealed person can become a very bitter, unforgiving, malicious, toxic person. Healing is crucial.

The statistics on the benefits of positive father presence and the devastating consequences of father absenteeism serve as a reminder that relationships, marriage and parenthood are not about fairy tales.

For ladies, relationships and marriage shouldn’t be about going for the man that we are most superficially attracted to. It’s not about going for the man who is most rich or the coolest. It is about choosing wisely so that we can have a healthy husband who will also be a good father. For Christians, it is about making a wise choice on behalf of God and humanity-for the sake of the present, the future, and for the sake of legacy.

Sources

[1]

https://www.rochesterareafatherhoodnetwork.org/statistics

[2] Beyond These Stone Walls, “In the Absence of Fathers: A Story of Elephants and Men” by Fr. Gordon J MacRae, 06/20, https://beyondthesestonewalls.com/blog/gordon-macrae/in-the-absence-of-fathers-a-story-of-elephants-and-men

Used with permission from Petrina Ferguson.

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