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FunTimes Magazine

Closed Doors and Empty Seats - The Trend of Absentee Fathers

Jun 19, 2021 09:00AM ● By Anand Subramanian
absent father

Figure 1 - Abandonment of family. Source - Google

The smell of coffee, rustling newspapers, and dad sitting at the kitchen table is a usual morning for many children but, for some, it's  simply a dream. Life without a father carries a slew of negative consequences. Their vacancy is temporary or permanent, but the impact on a child's mental health is complex and irreversible in both cases. The absence of fathers has resulted in irresponsibility among adolescents, and the youth culture has gradually adopted negligent behavior. The saying goes, "It takes a village to raise a child," but what happens when the chief of the tribe leaves the table?

According to a Census Bureau report, more than 20 million children lived in households with no father. Statistics also show that in the last five decades, the percentage of African American children living without their fathers has increased to nearly 68 percent, with 39 percent not living with their biological father and 29 percent not living with any father representation. Early childhood studies show that children who have positive relationships with their fathers are less likely to be depressed, lie, or engage in disruptive behavior. Children have admitted to feeling abandoned and having low self-esteem as a result of their father's absence. This results in a unique set of challenges for Black children growing up, such as failing in school and engaging in anti-social behaviors. While parental divorce and separation are the primary causes of father absence, other factors such as poverty and developmental difficulties have also contributed to this modern epidemic.

Figure 2 - Visual Representation of Absent Father. Source - Google

Paternal absence has a variety of psychological effects on both male and female children. When a young man grows up without his father, he can experience violent outbursts of emotion, stress, deep hatred for authority figures, early rates of sexual encounters, and compelled beliefs that he must be the breadwinner. On the other end of the gender spectrum, a girl's relationship with her father can serve as the foundation for all of her relationships with men in her life, romantic and otherwise. In the absence of such infrastructure, young women develop ideas of being unworthy and unlovable, while creating an altered reality that strengthens such beliefs. According to a National Principals Association report, 75% of high school dropouts and teen mothers come from fatherless homes, which leads to the use of illicit substances, gang involvement, drug and alcohol abuse, and incarceration.

Figure 3 - Broken family. Source - Google

 A father's decision to leave can have a massive repercussion on many future generations. "I don't want to be my father," we always say in such situations. To uphold those words, the first step is to acknowledge their absence, accept the fact, and speak openly about it. The absence should not be a piece of news, but rather a part of our narrative, and we should never blame ourselves for our father's departure. Getting therapy, finding better role models, and self-awareness helps in breaking the pattern and encourages us to forge our own pathway towards a better career, better choice of life partners, and a guideline to becoming better parents. Our stories may have had an unusual start and rollercoaster adolescence, but being grateful for the life we have and being determined to make a difference can go a long way toward breaking the chain and opening the door to a healthy and happy generation.

 Anand Subramanian is a freelance photographer and content writer based out of Tamil Nadu, India. Having a background in Engineering always made him curious about life on the other side of the spectrum. He leapt forward towards the Photography life and never looked back. Specializing in Documentary and  Portrait photography gave him an up-close and personal view into the complexities of human beings and those experiences helped him branch out from visual to words. Today he is mentoring passionate photographers and writing about the different dimensions of the art world.

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