You Should Be There

A friend and I discussed some time ago, a conversation he had with his wife. The subject of that conversation was his interest in purchasing a motorcycle. The wife’s response was, “No, I need you here with me and the kids.” Certainly, it was an endearing response, but also one which contains important implications for today’s family composition and structure.

According to an article published by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (2018), “motorcycle deaths accounted for 14 percent of all motor vehicle crash deaths in 2018 and were more than double the number of motorcyclist deaths in 1997.” Now, I do not know whether the wife’s response was based on relating statistics of the casualties aforementioned, some other knowledge or mere emotion. However, I am confident in asserting that she knows the contributive value of her husband. Long story short, my friend did not purchase the motorcycle because he understood and accepted his role in their household. As such, my address to fathers all over the world is, you should be there. Where is there? Wherever your family is, that is where you should be. Everything you do should be done with cognizance and the best of intentions.


It Takes Two


Kruk (2012) outlines a range of negative effects including exploitation and abuse that youths experience when fathers are absent from the home. Specifically, “preschoolers not living with both of their biological parents are 40 times more likely to be sexually abused” (Kruk, 2012). I recall at the age of 14, being a member of an all-male chorus and the director making inappropriate comments to me. One question that I will always remember him asking is, “Does your father live at home?” It would be some time much later when I realized he was looking for a way in to perpetrate. Much older now, I classify the director’s question as a predatorial probe.


Mothers thrusted into single-parenting face a wide range of challenges too. For every single parent, financial obligations increase for each child living within the household. The average cost of raising a child is more than $284K (Parker, 2020). Underlying expenses include but are not limited to food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, daycare, and extracurricular activities. A mother must either work multiple or odd jobs for the purpose of generating income to maintain the household and provide for the children’s welfare. The more time spent away from children, the more children become vulnerable to potential harm. As obligations mount, some mothers become emotionally withdrawn or discouraged from the increased burdens of singularly raising a child. A responsible father reduces the financial burdens and nullifies many of the negative side effects associated with child-rearing.


Fathers’ Impact in Child Development

From a male-child perspective, fathers imprint upon boys a sense of “male pride”—esteem and confidence in one’s biological gender and related attributes. Good fathers positively influence their offspring. Male children not only develop an understanding of who they are through social interaction and identification, but also mature with positive affect. Male children who grow up with interactive fathers are likely to demonstrate a more stable sense of masculinity, persevere under pressure, and manage their emotions more effectively. The relationship quality existing between father and mother will also shape a male child’s general attitude regarding females. The reverse is probable for fatherless males unless they are mentored by positive male role models during development.


A daughter’s understanding of males and her identity from a female perspective is also shaped by fathers. The father-daughter relationship seems to play an important in role in the latter party’s capacity to make decisions regarding education, career, marriage, and children. While it can be stated that the presence of a father or the lack thereof, produces similar outcomes across and male and female children, the difference revolves around the “who” the child perceives themselves to be. Attentive fathers are likely to rear daughters who will mature into strong, confident, and independent women. Typically, women possessing these characteristics are less likely to deal with immature men and take unnecessary risks because their father serves as a standard for every other male they encounter through life.


It is important to note that this blog does not presuppose there are theoretical absolutes. Instead, this article acknowledges the body of research and study on the subject of the impact of fathers within households. Good fathers positively impact child development and that is the overarching point of this blog.


The child is there and that is where the father should be. “Man up,” as the saying goes but more importantly, “Father up.”


References


Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. (2018). Fatality Facts 2018. Retrieved January 24, 2021 from https://www.iihs.org/topics/fatality-statistics/detail/motorcycles-and-atvs.


Kruk, E. (2012). Father Absence, Father Deficit, Father Hunger. Retrieved January 24, 2021 from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/co-parenting-after-divorce/201205/father-absence-father-deficit-father-hunger#:~:text=Exploitation%20and%20abuse%3A%20Fatherless%20children,that%20preschoolers%20not%20living%20with.


Parker, T. (2020). The Cost of Raising a Child in the United States. Retrieved January 24, 2021 from https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/090415/cost-raising-child-america.asp.


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