For some men, their 20-second contribution to fatherhood is enough. Once sated, these men disappear from women’s lives and, nine months later, leave behind children wondering who Dad is. The consequences of absent fathers ripple across Virginia’s landscape.

Statistics on Fatherlessness

The statistics on absent fathers are stunning, and not in a good way, according to the National Fatherhood Initiative:

  • 19.7 million children lived without a father in the home in 2013
  • Girls without fathers in their houses are seven times more likely to become pregnant as a teen than girls living with Dads
  • Children with absent fathers are four times more likely to be in poverty than those with fathers near
  • These children are twice as likely to be obese as children with fathers on hand to provide sensible eating advice
  • They are more likely to commit a crime, have behavioral problems, abuse drugs and alcohol, and face abuse or neglect than children with Dads in the house

The Effects of a Detached Dad

What aspects of your daughter’s or son’s life is most important to you? Education? Socialization? Emotional stability? Financial security? Future employability? Every one of those facets are affected by absentee fathering. Take education as only one example. As described in a scholarly study on fathers, children, and attitudes toward school,

“Children with negative attitudes about school and their teachers experienced avoidance and ambivalence with their fathers. On the other hand, children with a secure attachment to their father and whose father was involved had a higher academic self-concept. The father-child attachment was more associated with the child’s social-emotional school outcomes than their academic achievement.”

You raise a better child, socially, emotionally, and academically, when you are actually on hand to raise the child.

How early can a child be turned from a productive, healthy path simply by the absence or detachment of Dad? Writing in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, researchers showed that disengaged and remote interaction of fathers with their infant children — three-month-old babies! — is a reliable predictor of early behavior problems in children. Such emotional and physical distancing can lead to behavioral problems in children as early as age 1.

Some Virginia men may feel they can afford to stay away from their own child for several years, gambling that the child “won’t remember” whether they were on hand or not. This is simply false. The damage starts as early as three months of age and continues into teenhood.

Fatherless Households and Crime Statistics

Very few parents wish upon their own children a life of crime and destitution. Yet absentee Dads create those very bleak futures for their kids. A study in Crime and Delinquency of incarcerated young men showed a high correlation between absentee fathers and gun carrying or drug trafficking. Said the study,

“Data analysis indicated that the social disadvantage factor “absent father” significantly predicted this co-occurring behavior in the inmate sample…” 

If you as a conscientious Virginia man want to help keep your teenager or young adult out of jail, be part of your child’s life from the start. Digging deeper into the Crime and Delinquency study, Fatherhood Factor found,

“Individuals from father absent homes were found to be 279% more likely to carry guns and deal drugs than peers living with their fathers.”

Father Hunger … Yes, It’s a Real Thing

The psychological term for transferring a desire for a father to any nearby male is “father hunger,” a particularly corrosive strategy by girls and young women. Fatherless daughters, Psychology Today reports,

“manifest an object hunger for males, and in experiencing the emotional loss of their fathers egocentrically as a rejection of them, may become susceptible to exploitation by adult men.”

These young females become sexualized early, often forego contraception at first intercourse, become teenage parents, contract STDs, and experience a lifetime of problems with sexual health.

The Infinite Value of a Good Father

If this landscape sounds particularly bleak, it should; it is. Little positive can be said for children raised without the support, love, and male role model of a father.

So what do you do if you father a Virginia child, and have no interest in a relationship with the mother? You recognize your responsibility to the child, at least. You make a promise to the child, the child’s mother, and yourself that you will stay connected. You will provide emotional, financial and paternal support.

Establishing clear legal guidelines for this kind of support requires the help of a capable, experienced custody and visitation attorney. Working with your attorney, you can build a parenting time schedule, determine child support, and more.

A call to The Firm For Men at 757-383-9184, or an online contact, can put you together with a Virginia family law attorney who can help you reconcile your situation and bring you closer to your family. You owe it to yourself, and your children, to get sound legal advice today.