Can families be "complete" without a father?

Lyndsay - posted on 08/17/2010 ( 20 moms have responded )

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I'm going to copy and paste because the original webpage has some other articles on it as well, just to reduce confusion. Here's the link anyway, for those who are curious: http://www.cyc-net.org/newsrelease/nrl-a...

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In today’s society, and to its detriment, more and more fathers are being viewed as an optional part of the family unit. But in reality, as the father goes, so goes the family.

Seldom, if ever, do I give much credence to what celebrities think or say. Most of them don’t live anywhere near the real world you and I live in, and, most of the time, they pontificate on things for which they have absolutely zero experience. Actress Jennifer Aniston is currently promoting her new movie, “The Switch,” which is about a woman wanting to have a baby via artificial insemination. Her character chooses not to have a father be a part of the process other than donation of sperm.

In a People magazine interview, Aniston said that “times have changed” in regard to the idea of the traditional family. So if that means having a family without the man in the picture, that’s OK. “They (women) are realizing if it’s that time in their life and they want this part, they can do it with or without that,” she said.

The “that” she referred to is a father. Aniston says that family life has “evolved” from strictly “the traditional stereotype of family. The point of the movie is,” she said, “what is that which defines family?” Her answer: “It isn’t necessarily the traditional mother, father, two children and a dog named Spot. Love is love and family is what is around you.”

Naïve, childless, Ms. Aniston could not be more wrong about the importance of a father in the life of the family. Her nonsensical blathering is nothing more than Hollywood fantasy. And the facts confirm that the absence of a father in the family has a dramatic, lasting, negative impact on children. Make no mistake, single mothers perform heroically when forced to raise children alone. But ask any single mother and she will tell you how important a kind, loving father is to her and her children – and they long for that.

I am not talking about abusive fathers. No woman should have to endure that kind of relationship. I believe the good Lord counts a mother’s tears and fathers will be held accountable for their actions and omissions regarding their responsibilities to their families. I believe there is nothing more noble than motherhood. But the notion of a father as optional family equipment, as Ms. Aniston alludes, is absurd.

Her comment that the traditional family of mother and father has evolved into a higher and more complex something else is false. Consider these facts. Children from fatherless homes account for:

•63 percent of youth suicides (source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Bureau of the Census).

•71 percent of pregnant teenagers (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services).

•90 percent of all homeless and runaway children (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services).

•70 percent of juveniles in state-operated institutions (U.S. Department of Justice special report).

• 85 percent of all children who exhibit behavioral disorders (Centers for Disease Control).

•80 percent of rapists motivated with displaced anger (Criminal Justice & Behavior, Vol. 14, p. 403-26).

•71 percent of all high school dropouts (National Principals Association “Report on the State of High Schools”).

•75 percent of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers (Rainbows for All God’s Children).

•85 percent of all youths sitting in prisons (Fulton County, Ga., jail populations, Texas Department of Corrections).

Karl Zinsmeister, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said: “Fathers play critical roles for their children as teachers. Clinical work shows that fathers are more likely than mothers to encourage children to explore the outer levels of their competence and withstand frustration. As children get older, one area where fathers frequently concentrate is in helping their offspring navigate through specific life crises.

“Research also shows that fathers are critical in the establishment of gender in children. Interestingly, fatherly involvement produces stronger sexual identity and character in both boys and girls. It’s well established that the masculinity of sons and the femininity of daughters are each greatest when fathers are active in family life.

“It would be idiotic to suggest that among the different traits and capacities that fathers and mothers bring to the family any one set of qualities is superior to another. The point is these varied skills and outlooks combine in lovely ways to give children everything that they need.”

A father is vital to the success and well-being of the family. No father is perfect, but the fact is, when we start to marginalize his importance or buy into the notion that he is just an optional part of the family unit, future generations will suffer – because, as the father goes so goes the family.

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Jodi - posted on 08/17/2010

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A family can be complete without a father, but all children need strong, positive male role models. That's the real issue here. I think if you broke down all of those stats even further, all of those people had no real male role model providing them with a positive influence.

Jenny - posted on 08/18/2010

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I would like to see the income levels of the single mothers in the stats from the OP. I'm betting there are WAY less behaviour and other issues in a home with a millionaire single mom than one working two jobs to provide the basics for her kids.

I agree on the father figure being an acceptable substitue. My dad died when I was 6 and I had plenty of male bonding with my uncles. Would having a dad be ideal? Of course! That's doesn't mean forming a family in other ways should be discouraged though.

Ashley - posted on 09/02/2010

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hmm well i spent my childhood with out a positive father influence in fact a horable one making my spin on this possibly different had i had a positive male in my life i spent my childhood wishing my life did not involve the male in my life away so when i had my son by my self i completely believed it was better for him not to have a male around now as i have met a actual decent normal male to play a role in my son's life i struggle daily on my philosophy because i always go back to my earlier assessment that a child does not need a male but in fact my son has two very important males in his life that he loves and im working on allowing them to be part of his life as a actual important part as i always fear by allowing them to much into his life that he will get hurt. Putting my feelings behind me i believe he is benefiting from them especially as he is a boy. Would it of helped me had i had a good male yes so i guess that it would have to benifit my child to the real answer i guess is as long as there is a positive male yes but i believe it could hurt the child more if the male in question is not positive it would better to be alone.

Johnny - posted on 08/18/2010

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Absolutely families can be complete without fathers. Many of the negative statistics attributed to kids who have no father are mitigated when factors such as income, family abuse, abandonment, and education are factored into the mix. If kids have good role models of both genders in their lives, live in a family with the financial means to support them and spend quality time with them, and have not been subjected to abuse or neglect, there is no evidence that lacking a dad will turn out badly. My hubby is a fantastic father, and my own dad is the best (we are very close). But I think good, successful families can come in any shape and size. You don't NEED a mom to have a happy family either.

[deleted account]

A family can be complete without a father. Conversely, a family can be complete without a mother. Children need loving adults in their lives that model positive interpersonal relationships as well as positive gender role models. These people don't have to be parents, they just have to be loving and stable. Those statistics provided in the original post were interesting, but I'm sure there are many many further factors involved.

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I'm one that will say that a family is not complete w/out a father. I'm not saying kids in single parent homes CAN'T be fine and grow up to be great, productive, outstanding members of society, but from watching my children these past 2.5 years... SOMETHING is missing and it's missing just as much for my son who has never had a father in his daily life as it is for my girls who had the 'daily Daddy' for 6 years. My children DO have several positive male role models in their lives on a pretty regular basis. It's not the same. I see it all the time w/ them. Are they 'ok'? Yes and I hope it always stays that way, but something extremely important is still missing.

And that's not about me.... I personally LOVE not having a man involved in my daily life. I don't love not having someone to help w/ the daily parenting stuff, but DEALING w/ a man..... so glad I don't anymore. ;)

Sherri - posted on 09/02/2010

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I believe even if there is no father there needs to be strong male role models readily available for the children. I do feel they have an intricate and crucial role in our children. As do the mom's or strong woman role models as well.

Manon Alexe - posted on 09/02/2010

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What about the stats on kids coming from just having a father and not a mother in their lives?? I know plenty of men raising their kids without the mothers for what ever reason.
But to get back to the OP. I'm a single mom. Do I wish my daughter's dad was in the picture? Heck yeah. Do I know that at the present time she's better of NOT having him in her live? For sure. Luckely she has plenty of male rolmodels in her live and a stabble home. I work part time so get to spend plenty of quality time with her. At the end of the day tho, in our own situation, I hope one day he'll come right and invest time in her. Instead of money. I show her picture and tell only good things about him. Like she now knows who daddy is and where he lives and why he lives there. (to make money for nappies...lol)
I come from a double broken home, my bio dad left when I was 3 and my "step" dad left when I was 19. I have contact with both. With my bio one not such a good one, but because I have 2 more siblings (brother 8yrs and sister 4yrs) I made contact with him. My dad however, I still have a good bond with.

I hate that some kids choices are being blamed on the fact that they come from a broken or fatherless home. On that basis I should be a total bascet case, and I'm totally the opposit.

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without a father yes, without a strong male role model, no. My husband doesn't have a relationship with his father and never has... It shows. He is a stable human being and is doing just fine now but I can see the longing for some kind of connection to a male role model even now at 30. His mom did everything she could to raise her kids appropriately and she did. however, a mother can be everything from a nurse, cook, teacher and maid in the same breath but she never will be a father no matter how much she tries.

If women want to have children without a father then that's fine but they have to be damn sure that they will have a positive male role model who is willing to be there for that child.I can be an uncle, a friend, whatever but that male NEEDS to be in the picture.

Rosie - posted on 08/18/2010

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i believe families can be complete without a father present. however there is a HUGE difference if there is abandonment by the father, and not just artificial insemination. also if there are positive male role models in the childs life, i don't believe that the child would be missing out.

Meghan - posted on 08/18/2010

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This single moms not being able to properly provide and kids NEEDING a father there everyday is really starting to annoy me! Yes a kind loving father would be great, but I live in reality! No father and a VERY caring mother is far better than an disneyland dad or a shitty one for that matter.

Alison - posted on 08/18/2010

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We talk about needing a father or not needing a father, but what does "need" mean? I believe that a family without a healthy father figure is in a way "handicapped" or at a disadvantage. But being handicapped is not the same as being dysfunctional. There have always been families without fathers and they are not necessarily doomed.

This is an interesting debate, because I totally get the idea that it would be selfish for me to bring a fatherless child into the world because I want to be a mom. Yet, I totally think I would consider a fatherless family over remaining childless.

Yvonne - posted on 08/17/2010

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Interesting debate.
I have a father and a husband of 20 plus years.
My father I have as little to do with as possible, because there was no positive relationship with him as a child. I do have a gap that I am constantly battling with as a result especially as I see my own children having a positive relationship with their own dad, it sinks into me what I missed out on. And it hurts.
My children do have a positive relationship with their father, love him dearly and miss him greatly when he is not around. Sure he is not perfect, nor am I.
I see my children as more complete, because of having both a loving father and mother. We both provide and meet different needs for our children simply because we are different people. As a male he certainly understands our boys in ways that I cannot and with our daughter he has a special communication with her that comes from being a male and her father.
At one stage my husband travelled extensively and I could see how his lack of presence was leaving a gap in there lives. I therefore sort out male sporting coaches so that they could get a male influence. It did not replace their dad, but it helped. (he's not travelling now)
The other interesting thing that not acknowledging a father figure in a childs conception is the then denial of a whole other community and blood line that the child comes from. I am currently reading a book about a persons search for her "blood" family. Her experience with her adopted family was not a bad one. But there comes a time when one wonders who they really are. Who do they take after. Why do I have this "quirky " way(possibly)?' After 50 years of not knowing her blood/birth family to eventually meet numerous brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins. She could start to see certain characteristics she had were genetic and therefore normal. I could go on.....
The point being, as we deny the need for male and female to join and raise their own offspring, we deny the underlying need for a sense of belonging. lol I can see many will argue against this, and so the vicious cycle will continue. To all of you who have no choice in being a single parent, my hat goes off to you and i don't doubt you will do the best that you possibly can. That's being human we deal with what we have and do the best with it.

Mae - posted on 08/17/2010

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I think that a family cannot be complete with a "Father figure" it doesn't have to be a father necessarily. I know quite a few people that don't have the father in the babies life but there is a father figure, weather it be a grandfather, mom's boyfiriend, an uncle or what have you. I do think that family life is easier with a father there, I don't understand why except in the case of the father being a danger to the child any woman would cut the father out of a child's life. Especially those that are just being spitefull. But maybe I'm just old fashioned. My hubby is such a help to me he does bath time, cooks, cleans, story time, playtime, whatever I need he does. I would be screwed if I didn't have him

Lyndsay - posted on 08/17/2010

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@ Windsor: You say that times have changed, but all those statistics are from current research. So have they really?

[deleted account]

Where I don't believe that you "have" to have a father to raise a child, it sure does make it a lot easier. A child really does need a fathers influences in their life, if that is the father is worth having around. I did have a father in my life until I was 13 but he wasn't worth the ground he walked on. I was much better off when he left, but always longed for a father I could love.

Windsor - posted on 08/17/2010

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I didn't have a father and I am just fine. A mand DOES NOT need to be in a family for the family to be happy. Plain and simple. And times have changed.

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