A Defining Moment
Having a child is a major moment in many people’s lives. However, a parent may not be present in a child’s life for whatever reason, and this can cause problems to a child’s development. According to a survey from Statistics Canada, single mothers are far more prevalent than single fathers. The data suggests that as of 2014, about 550,000 single parents were female, but only about 135,000 were male.
The Negative Effects
Although the negative effects on children without a father in their lives can vary, there are common behavioural symptoms that can be expected from them. One such characteristic is social adjustment difficulties, where they can develop a narcissistic and imposing personality to hide their underlying discontent of being fatherless. Other traits include skipping school and poor grades, committing crime at young ages, promiscuity, and poor future relationships (more likely to divorce). Also, women tend to be more sexually active toward males to compensate for the father figure lacking in their lives.
Video of how absent fathers affect children. Video from WTVC NewsChannel 9
One infamous example of such an individual is former LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department) officer Rafael Perez. He grew up under the care of a tough, hard-working mother, but no father. Later in his career, he was arrested for attempting to steal cocaine from the LAPD evidence room and confessed in court of all his wrongdoings while on duty. Although he seemingly kept out of trouble while growing up, he gradually started displaying many of the traits consistent with people who grew up without a father. For example, he regularly cheated on his wife, willingly participated in police misconduct, and even shot and crippled a gang member, Javier Ovando, in an unprovoked incident. Consequentially, his actions had a very negative impact on the City of Los Angeles who had to cover legal costs for all of Perez’s victims. Unfortunately though, this sort of anti-social behaviour is very common amongst individuals who grew up without a father figure.
Effect on the Brain
According to studies done on mice by scientists in McGill University in Canada, growing up without a father can permanently alter the brain. In their study, they found that young mice who grew up under a single mother had alterations in their prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for controlling social activities and thought processes. Interestingly, these mice displayed more aggressive behaviour than those raised with both parents. Additionally, female mice without fathers expressed more sensitivity to amphetamine, a stimulant drug, than those with both parents. According to their report, these behavioural trends were consistent to what was observed in humans as well.
Raising a child without a father can make them prone to such negative traits, but it does not have to be an outcome. Some health professionals suggest that creating a positive home environment with a set of expectations can help a child’s development. Additionally, it is important that single mothers find a positive male role model for their child to look up to who can best compensate for the lack of a father figure in their lives.
– Hani Ghaffari
6 responses to “Psychological Impact of an Absent Father on Children”