By Tiffany Williams-Jallow, Relationships360° Founder
Absent father households is not something I personally have experience with since I grew up with a father in the home, but due to the overwhelming trend of absent dads in communities across America, I thought the subject was worth discussing. And for the last TV episode of Relationships360°, I landed the perfect guest.
George R. Williams is a nationally recognized fathering expert with appearances on CNN, FOX News, PBS and feature articles in the Los Angeles Times, Ebony, JET and Kansas City Star. He is also a trained Marriage and Family Therapist, consultant to the National Center for Fathering in Kansas City as well as founder of Manbuilders, another Kansas City-based organization that helps build healthy men, fathers and families through faith, education and community-based initiatives. George has also been married for 25 years and father of three.
The show brought to the forefront many of the negative consequences that not having a father in the home poses for the children and women that men leave behind as well as the fathers themselves. The escalating number of high school drop outs, for instance, is a direct correlation of fatherless households as is the soaring incarceration rate, especially in the African American community, in which the percentage of absent fathers is a staggering 67%. As well, in 2002, the Department of Justice found that 39% of inmates grew up in mother-only households and 46% had a previously incarcerated family member. And the numbers don’t show any signs of reversing.
As the divorce rate continues to climb, so too will the total of absent father households. Often mothers are the victors in child custody battles and as a result are usually the ones that raise the kids. Likewise, one study of absent father homes reports that 26% of fathers in America live in a different state than their children making the likelihood of these men raising their children next to zero. The catastrophic implications of fatherless homes across this country cannot be overstated and again, appear to be growing worse. Besides the impact single-parent households have on the crime rate are the dire health consequences father absent homes causes.
During our interview, George mentioned that not having a dad in the home, leads to higher infant mortality rates among the women who are left to raise the other children. Additionally, a study at Columbia University found that children living in two-parent households with a poor relationship with their father are 68% more likely to smoke, drink, or use drugs compared to all teens in two-parent households. Teens in single mother households are at a 30% higher risk than those in households that have a mom and dad.
After reading this, you might ask yourself if there are so many downsides to children being raised without their fathers, why do women put themselves in positions that increase the chances of a man jumping ship and abandoning his family? Teenage pregnancy accounts for a lot of absent father homes. Perhaps if parents, the school system, churches and the government did a better job educating their children about the negative consequences of getting pregnant before graduating high school, both the absent father and school drop out rates would begin to drop. As George stated on my show, fatherless homes is an epidemic. If this is true, then why hasn’t the media or government focused on tackling this issue like they have teenage abortion, drug and alcohol use?
The task to educate society about the devastating impact of absent father households appears to fall with groups like the ones George R. Williams works with – The National Center for Fathering and Manbuilders. These organizations have compiled research on fathers, and have programs, resources, and information to help get fathers involved again in their children’s lives. If we all work to curb the absent father trend by sharing this article, research statistics and other information compiled by groups like the ones listed above with teenagers, parents and the community, we as a society should begin to witness a pattern of two-parent homes across America. You can begin now. Check out the resources and tools on the right side of this page and share it with the people in your life.