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One In Three US Children Live Without A Father, Census Shows

Father and Daughter

The US Census reflects that paternal influence is disappearing from American homes, leaving roughly 15 million children without a father figure. Two-parent households have decreased by 1.2 million in the last 10 years. Nearly five million live without their mother, a third of the number compared to missing daddies.

Why should we be concerned? Children who grow up in homes without a healthy father figure are more likely to be incarcerated, use drugs, drop out of high school, and demonstrate behavioral disorders. About.com cites that a lack of a father can leave a child with a confused identity, increase aggression, and inhibit goal oriented achievement. Add the stress of a lower socioeconomic status, and the stats worsen. Statistically, the majority of these single parent children live in poverty with the average single mother earning $24,000 and the father not contributing support. The likelihood that a young male will engage in criminal activity doubles if he is raised without a father and triples if he lives in a neighborhood with a high concentration of single-parent low income families. Seventy percent of juveniles in state-operated institutions, and 71 percent of high school drop outs come from fatherless homes.

Research shows that girls and young women who have an unstable father figure have a higher tendency of unplanned pregnancy, low self-esteem, high school and college drop-out, poverty, divorce, and sexually promiscuous behavior.

So why the rise in missing fathers? It happens in every race, state, and economic background, though statistically more often among lower income households.

In Erin Ryan’s article, “Unmarried Fathers Abandon Families to Spare Their Own Delicate Feelings,” Ryan argues:

“The reality is quite different from perception. Almost two-thirds of single women raising kids on their own had been married or were still married, and the children’s father had simply left. Thanks to a number of factors, once the child comes along, fathers can become stressed out and discouraged. Raising kids is crazy expensive, for one thing, and during the early part of the recession, blue collar men disproportionately lost their jobs and had difficulty finding other ways to earn income. This was understandably depressing, and stressful. But rather than handle the stress of parenthood, poverty, and joblessness, the men opted to flee that which they could — the parenthood.” And yet you don’t see mothers leaving their children quiet as often in comparison.

It seems as though mom is supposed to be superwoman, enduring the encumbering crush of work, bills, and the needs of their children, often sacrificing their own needs in the process. What in our society has enabled this growing trend in the last decade? Is it because socially we don’t hold the same shame and stigma to absent fathers the way we used to? It seems there is less dishonor with a father that vanishes after a divorce these days.

Ideally, we’d want them to be directly involved with their children. If not, at the very least provide. But that too is a growing problem. Earlier this month, NBC News reported about a judge who ordered a Racine, Wisconsin father of nine to stop having children until he could show that he could provide for them. Corey Curtis, 44, was behind nearly $100,000 on his child support to the six mothers of his nine offspring.

Ksee24.com highlighted three Tennessee men with 78 kids by 46 women dodging on child support. Terry Turnage has 23 children with 17 different women. Richard M. Colbert has 25 children with 18 women. But Desmond Hatchett, 33, takes the record with 30 children with 11 different women.

The NY Daily News clarified the expense of Hatchett’s liabilities, that under the law, the state can take half of his paycheck and divide it among the women. In 2009, Hatchett was working a minimum wage job which limited his payments to as little as $1.49 among some of the women. The mothers in many of these cases were completely unaware the men had children with others or were misled to the enormity of the number. These men represent an unfortunate extreme of an unconcerned compulsion to “dine and dash.”

Should men be subjected to legally order vasectomies if they display an inability to provide for multiple children?

Why do you think more fathers leave the care and expense of their child in the hands of their mothers?

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