“ ‘Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone?’ ” (Matt. 7: 9).
With the change in sexual mores stemming from the 1960s and the impact of divorce on the nuclear family, many children grow up in single parent households who might otherwise have had a father actively involved in their lives [1A].
Single Parent Households
According to the US Census Bureau, twelve million households in the US are headed by single parents, 80% of these by single mothers. And that number is growing .
All too often, children become pawns in the power struggle that can ensue in a divorce. When child support payments are late, women (who may feel powerless to do anything else) at times deny men access to their children. Unfortunately, this can erode the parental bond to a child’s detriment.
A 2011 study found that non-custodial parents – whether male or female – made only 61% of required child support payments to the parent with custody of their children .
As a practical matter, the income of single parent homes is greatly reduced [1B]. One in four American children under the age of 18 is being raised without a father, 45% of these children below the poverty level .
Poverty and No Father
The problems associated with poverty, and the absence of a father in the home are significant. These can range from poor school performance, and high drop-out rates, to emotional and physical abuse or neglect, drug and alcohol use, and delinquent behavior .
Child abuse has, in fact, been called the dark underside of cohabitation . A mother’s boyfriend can pose a real threat to the life of a child not his own .
Love and Security
None of this is meant to suggest that divorced dads do not love their children. While some men do abandon a first family and “trade up” to a second, many more fight for custody when a mother is drug addicted, violent, or otherwise incapable of caring for the children.
The point is that a great many children do not experience a father’s love, a father’s example, or the comfort and security of a father’s “day to day” presence.
Divorced dads need to make a special effort to remain full-time fathers.
[1A][1B] Huffington Post, “The Disappearing Nuclear Family and the Shift to Non-Traditional Households Has Serious Financial Implications for Growing Numbers of Americans” by Sandra Timmerman and Debra Caruso, 3/27/13, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/debra-caruso/retirement-plan-the-disappearing-nuclear-family_b_2534622.html.
 Pew Research Center, Social Trends, “1. The American Family Today”, 12/17/15, http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/12/17/1-the-american-family-today/ .
 Single Mother Guide, Single Mother Statistics, https://singlemotherguide.com/single-mother-statistics/.
 Princeton University, Future of Children, “The Effects of Poverty on Children” by Jeanne Brooks-Dunn and Greg Duncan, https://www.princeton.edu/futureofchildren/publications/docs/07_02_03.pdf.
 NBC News, Children’s Health, “Children at higher risk in non-traditional homes”, 11/18/07, http://www.nbcnews.com/id/21838575/ns/health-childrens_health/t/children-higher-risk-nontraditional-homes/.
 The Daily Beast, “Why Are Mothers’ Boyfriends So Likely to Kill?” by Samantha Allen, 9/25/15, http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/09/25/why-are-mothers-boyfriends-so-likely-to-kill.html.
 Time, “How Deadbeat are Deadbeat Dads, Really?” by Belinda Luscombe, 6/15/15, http://time.com/3921605/deadbeat-dads/.
This series will continue next week with Absent, Part 3 – Children Having Children
Wishing You All A Happy Easter!
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