THE STORY SO FAR
The statistics and findings described below reveal significant disadvantages that a boy growing up with no father or father figure may face. This is not implying poor parenting of the mother nor diminishing the vital importance of a mother in a child’s life. Rather the findings reveal the challenge facing mothers seeking to bring-up a child alone.
Single mothers provide an incredible service for their children and we commend you.
Sadly, the rise in fatherless homes is exacerbated by a decline in traditional male communities and male role models which have historically offered an alternative for fatherless boys. Not only are male teachers becoming a rarity but modern careers no longer offer a means for boys to work alongside men.
“The traditional ways of raising sons, which lasted for thousands and thousands of years, amounted to fathers and sons living in close – murderously close proximity, while the father taught the son a trade; perhaps farming or carpentry, or blacksmithing or tailoring…” Iron John by Robert Bly.
Such "traditional ways" seldom exist anymore and the individualistic society of today, along with its bias for digital communication and lone working, can isolate boys further from the male community they need.
The UK, along with Ireland, has the worst statistics in family breakdown in the entire EU. Family breakdown is the route by which many boys loose all meaningful contact with their fathers and it is now estimated that approximately 2 million children in the UK have no meaningful contact with their father.
65% of children aged 12-16, in low-income households, do not live with both parents. The majority of these households (circa 92%) are headed by a single mother. (SOURCE: Centre for social Justice and Department for Work and Pensions).
The trend of absent fathers has increased rapidly over recent decades and fatherless homes have now become common place in the UK.
Many boys are growing up in the UK today with no father and are further starved of any positive interaction with men in general. They are lost in 'men deserts' with no clear path out. This is a grave situation for a boy and the consequences can be profound. For every boy is searching to understand the essence of masculinity. They need a tried and true path to follow, trodden by men before them.
Sadly, many boys are either left to discover masculinity for themselves, with the inevitable confusion and failures that will bring, or they will find an alternative path.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF ABSENT MEN
crime and gangs
A 2009 report on street gangs (Dying to Belong) provided clear evidence that ‘family breakdown, and in particular fatherlessness, appears to be a key driver of gang culture’. Indeed, following the 2011 street riots in London and Manchester, the Daily Telegraph noted that a common denominator amongst the rioters is that they were gang members with no father living at home.
'These boys hurt: and boys who hurt, hurt us – and themselves. Prisons are centres for dad-deprived boys. There has been a 700 per cent increase in incarceration in the USA since the 1970s – in the UK it has more than doubled. Dad deprivation is directly related to that, and to suicide, which is the number one killer of British men aged under 45.’
Warren Farrell (quoted in the Daily Telegraph).
"The negative effects of parental separation on children tends to be all the more pronounced where family break-up leads to father absence or a sharp reduction in father involvement. It is clear that children growing up without fathers are, on the whole, more vulnerable because of the many positive contributions that available, engaged and committed fathers make to children’s wellbeing."
SOURCE: Centre for Social Justice
"Having a father involved in their lives boosts children’s self-esteem and confidence. School-aged children with good relationships with their fathers are less likely to experience depression, exhibit disruptive behaviour, or to lie than children without good father-child relationships."
SOURCE: Mosley J and Thompson E, 1995
‘Where father and mother are separated, continued contact with fathers is mostly non-existent. A lot of kids have never met their fathers. They lack male role models to give them a rounded view of what it is to be male and suffer from a lack of self-esteem: when asked, their anger about this loss comes out in descriptions of their fathers as a “waste of space”, and in describing themselves as “rubbish”.’
SOURCE: Anne McLaren, Project Manager at Fun in Action