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The Cost Of Father Absence | Father Hunger - How Father Absence Impacts Our Youth

Father Absence and Substance Abuse


Parents, especially fathers, really are the anti-drug.

Children are more likely to use and abuse drugs when they grow up without involved, responsible, and committed fathers in their lives. Drugs and alcohol often serve as surrogates for children who experience a lack of love from and emotional connection to their family and community. Good dads step into that void and raise children who are less likely to use drugs.

The Facts

  • Researchers at Columbia University found that children living in two-parent households with a poor relationship with their father are 68% more likely to smoke, drink, or use drugs compared to all teens in two-parent households. Moreover, teens in single-mother households fared much worse. They had a 30% higher risk than those in all two-parent households.1
  • Father closeness reduces the number of a child’s friends who smoke tobacco, drink, and use marijuana. Father closeness also reduces a child’s use of alcohol, cigarettes, and hard drugs. Also, intact (married, two-parent) families ranked higher on father closeness than single parent families.2
  1. “Survey Links Teen Drug Use, Relationship With Father.” Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly 6 September 1999:5.
  2. National Fatherhood Initiative. “Family Structure, Father Closeness, & Drug Abuse.” Gaithersburg, MD: National Fatherhood Initiative, 2004:20-22.

Father Absence and Sexual Activity

  • Fathers play a crucial role in sexuality and relationships.
  • A father’s behavior and values uniquely influence a girl’s expectations about boyfriends and husbands.  
  • In addition, boys learn how to treat girls and what kind of husband and father they should become from their fathers.

 Boys raised in single-mother homes are at a higher risk of teen pregnancy, marrying with less than a high school degree, and forming a marriage where both partners have less than a high school degree.1

Teenage girls without fathers were twice as likely to be involved in early sexual activity and seven times more likely to get pregnant as other adolescents.2

  • Separation or frequent residential changes increase a woman’s risk of early menarche, sexual activity, and pregnancy. Women whose parents separated between birth and six years old experienced twice the risk of early menstruation, more than four times the risk of early sexual intercourse, and two and a half times the risk of early pregnancy when compared to women in intact families. The longer a woman lived with both parents, the lower her risk of early reproductive development.3



  1. Teachman, Jay D. ” The Childhood Living Arrangements of Children and the Characteristics of Their Marriages”, Journal of Family issues 25 (January 2004): 86-111.
  2. Ellis, Bruce J., John E. Bates, Kenneth A. Dodge, David M. Ferguson, L. John Horwood, Gregory S. Petit, and Lianne Woodward. “Does Father Absence Place Daughters at Special Risk for Early Sexual Activity and Teenage Pregnancy?” Child Development 74 (May/June 2003); 801-821.
  3. Quinlan, Robert J. “Father absence, parental care, and female reproductive development.” Evolution and Human Behavior 24 (November 2003):376-390.

Father Absence and Emotional/Behavioral Problems

  •  Did you know that “father hunger” is a very real psychological condition that afflicts children whose fathers are suddenly absent?
  • In fact, studies on “father hunger” have shown that within one to three months, the child experiences nightmares, sleeplessness, and night terrors.
  • Unfortunately, problems for children from father absent homes can continue for the rest of their lives.
  • There is a strong correlation between emotional and behavioral problems in children. This connection is a key indicator of the importance of the father-child bond.

Father Absence and Education


Evidence of the impact of father absence can show up on report cards….and in detention.

 A seventeenth century proverb states, “One father is more than a hundred school masters.” Accordingly, it should not be surprising to learn that dads have a key role in the educational outcomes of their children. An involved, responsible, and committed father can safeguard his child from poor academic performance, disciplinary problems, and dropping out of school. Dads can also play a key role in the children’s academic success.

Do you realize that it costs $22,942 per year to house in inmate in Virginia? That is more than it cost for a child to attend a state supported college.

Father Absence and Child Abuse

Girl Daydreaming


 Dads play a role in protecting children from abuse. Children who grow up without their fathers are at greatest risk for child abuse. In fact, the presence of a child’s father in the home lowers the likelihood that a child will be abused. One possible reason for this connection is the very important role that fathers often play as the “protector” of their children. The facts are clear that children are safer when their dad lives in their home.

Compared to living with both parents, living in a single-parent home doubles the risk that a child will suffer physical, emotional, or educational neglect.1

1 America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being. Table SPECIAL1. Washington, D.C.: Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, 1997.

Father Absence and Health



  • Father presence can prevent childhood obesity.
  • Even a child’s health is tied to his or her father’s presence.
  • Dads are often responsible for the physical play and activity in a household and can help their children learn the role of exercie in physical health.
  • Father involvement also has a positive impact on maternal-child health and can even impact childhood obesity. 
  • Low birth rate and infant mortality rates increase significantly in unmarried mothers.

Father Absence and Poverty


“Promoting responsible fatherhood…is one of the most important things we can do to reduce child poverty”  Former Vice President Al Gore at the National Fatherhood Initiative’s National Summit on Fatherhood in June, 2000

Father absence and poverty are strongly related.  Data shows that it’s more difficult to get fathers to provide financial support when they are not married to the mother and when they lack an emotional connection to their children.

Children in father-absent homes are five times more likely to be poor.  In 2002, 7.8 percent of children in married-couple families were living in poverty, compared to 38.4 percent of children in female-household familes. 1

Fourty-five percent of unmarried mothers in large U.S. cities are poor and another 28% are “near poor”, with incomes 200% below the poverty line. 2

As you can see, it is very challenging for the mothers to raise their children without financial support.  Think of the impact this is having on a life that was bought into this world.  Yes, a life that did not ask to be bought into the world.  It is time to take a stand for our children and build up our communities to remove the impact of poverty on the future generations.   We need to take back our communities and invest in Entreprenuership so that we can own assets that create generational wealth.

I don’t have to say anymore on this topic because you already know the results.  Jails are full and the crime rate is at an all time high.  Public dollars are being invested into more prisons to hold the future generations instead of addressing the issue. 

1 U.S. Census Bureau, Children’s Living Arrangements and Characteristics:  March 2002, p200-547, Table C8.  Washington D.C.: GPO, 2003.

2 McLanahan, Sara.  The Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study:  Baseline National Report. Figure 3.  Princeton, NJ: Center for Research on Child Wellbeing, 2003:11.

Father Absence and Crime



 I often wondered why the crime rate was the way it is and how to reduce it. Want to reduce the crime rate? End Father Absence.

Children without the presence of an involved, responsible, and committed father are significantly more likely to engage in criminal activity.

Good fathers serve as regulators of aggressive behaviors, particularly for your boys. Without dads around to teach children the values of restraint and appropriate expression, children are more likely to turn to delinquent and/or criminal behavior.

But, its not just boys who need involved dads to keep them out of trouble. The fastest growing prison population is young girls and women, many of whom have grown up in father-absent homes.

Why is Father Absence such a nasty problem?


 Father Absence is not a single issue. Father absence is an epidemic. Tonight, more than 24 million children are going through their day without the love and support of their biological father. Where are the dads? Why do we care at Rffdads? Children without involved, responsible, and committed fathers are being setup for failure.

What do I mean by failure? Children without a committed father suffer in areas of economic, health, educational, emotional, behavioral, and psychological well-being.

Our kids are acting out and the medication is a band-aid not the root cause of the problem. It is more important to find the source of the problem than to cover it up. There are several factors directly linked to father absence that the public needs to be aware of.

  • Father Absence and Crime
  • Father Absence and Poverty
  • Father Absence and Physical Health
  • Father Absence and Sexual Activity
  • Father Absence and Child Abuse
  • Father Absence and Education


Reference: Keider, Rose M. and Jason Field, The Living Arrangements of Children:2001, Current Population Reports, p70-104, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Census Burreau, 2005.

1 in 3 Children Will Sleep Without Their Dad Tonight


We all know that father absence is a major problem in every community. Why don’t we talk about this major problem and address the issue. Do we really understand how big a problem father absence is in our communities? At this very moment, more than 24 million children are going through their day without the love and support of their biological father. 

Imagine the emotional and psychological problems our children carry around each day.  Why are are school systems struggling with educating our students.  Too much time is spent on behavioral challenges and less on education.  You have to educate yourself on the impact of father absence so you can identify the symptoms in our children.

Just take a look at the picture above and count the kids.

1 in 3 kids without their father tonight. Wow!

References: Kreider, Rose M., and Jason Fields. The Living Arrangement of Children:2001. Current Poplulation Reports. 70 -104. Washington, D.C.:U.S. Census Bureau, 2005.

National Fatherhood Initiative, www.fatherhood.org, The Father Factor: How Fatherhood Impacts Our Youth

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