Children benefit from living in homes with fathers.

More than 27 million children in the United States live in homes without fathers, according to a report from the National Center for Fathering.

According to research from this center and the National Center for Substance Abuse and Prevention, children who grow up without a father or father figure in their lives are 10 times more likely to be economically disadvantaged, twice as likely to drop out of school, more likely to commit crimes, more likely to behave antisocially and two to three times more likely to have emotional problems and also have an increased risk for drug abuse.

Conversely, by the same report, children in a home with an actively involved father or father figure do better in school, have lower levels of delinquency, have better cognitive and general health, attain higher levels of education and achieve better economic self-sufficiency later in their lives than children raised in homes without a father.

Here is a summary of the research:

1. Children who have an actively involved father or father figure have better cognitive and health advantages, attain higher levels of education and later achieve better economic self-sufficiency than those in homes without fathers.

2. The less time fathers live with their children, the more behavioral problems their children are likely to display.

3. Children whose fathers engage in high levels of antisocial behavior in the home have greater behavioral problems than children in single-parent homes.

4. During school years, fathers are important to both boys and girls in terms of sex-role identity, but especially for boys, who identify more with their fathers than their mothers.

5. Many children consider their fathers to be stricter than their mothers, and appear to respond more readily to the system of rewards and punishments that fathers tend to use.

6. A father’s presence is as crucial to a child’s healthy development as is the mother’s presence.

7. Good male role models help adolescent boys develop gender characteristics.

8. Good male role models help adolescent girls form opinions of men as well as affecting their ability to relate to men.

9. Children with loving and actively involved non-biological fathers in a home can reap benefit similar to those of children with biological fathers in the home.

10. Fathers who are physically and emotionally involved in the lives of their children contribute to the emotional health of their children as well as their children contribute to the fathers’ emotional health.

In the next column, I will discuss fathering tips.

For questions or more information, call Dr. Youmasu J. Siewe, extension public health education specialist, at 744-6824. For online access to Extension and Community Health, click on “articles” at health>.

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