The father effect


Studies show today one out of every three children in America is living in a home without his or her natural father. One of out every three children in America will go to bed tonight without a father to read them a story, kiss them goodnight, or comfort them if they have a bad dream. But to me that’s just one side of what I call the “father effect.”

I grew up in a home where my father was there for the first eight years of my life and from there has been in and out. I can remember those early years being great, thinking of my dad as my hero and wanting to be just like him. I even remember wearing his eye-glasses so I could be blind like him too.

We all know a father-son relationship is an influential part of any boy’s development and well-being. It’s been known that involved fathers bring positive benefits to their children, including educational achievement, social behavior, and psychological well-being. Early on, I had that stability. And then things changed. He became less of a father and more like another “homeboy” if you will. He did less father things, and instead seemed more like a friend who’d swing by and laugh with us and then leave us.

I don’t know how it feels to be completely without a father like one-third of the children, so I won’t say my situation is worse than theirs but I often think I’d feel better if hadn’t known him at all. To me it’s different to know you had and you lost than not having at all. I know what it’s like to have a hero, but also know what it’s like to be hurt by my hero as well.

Fatherless children struggle through holidays like Father’s Day because it triggers sad emotions, such as the opportunity to celebrate the special day. But I feel no different than any other fatherless child. Fortunately, I had a strong mother and there have been other men who have taken me and guided to better myself from the life lesson rather than turning to negative actions.

Studies show 85 percent of all youths in prison come from fatherless homes, 71 percent of high school dropouts are fatherless, and 85 percent of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes. I could’ve been in that number.

However, I was able to turn the negative father effect I experienced and still experience into positive. Yes I had a rough fathers day like those who have never known their father, but I know one day Father’s Day will regain its specialness to me when I’m being celebrated by my own children.

To the men who are Fathers in their children’s lives, be proud and don’t take for granted how special you are to your child. There is a father effect, one positive and one negative.