Fatherless America – How Fewer Fathers Hurts America’s Youth

More Children Are Fatherless Than Ever Before

A father’s presence means a lot to a child, whether or not they realize it. If fatherless, it deeply impacts the child’s life.

The most important and influential role a man can have is being a father. But an increasing percentage of children are growing up without their biological father in their life. It’s an extremely worrisome reality. And while fathers are generally believed to be less vital than a child’s mother, this isn’t true. Statistics consistently show that a father’s presence makes a big difference.

In addition to the numbers, polls also show that fatherlessness is considered the most influential family or social problem by almost 3 out of 4 people in our country. If this were a disease, our government and the media would label it an epidemic.

We want to believe that households without both a mother and father can overcome these hardships and reduce the impact of the absence. Every child needs their mother, society agrees. And while single parents may try the best they can, statistics show that children need their fathers too.

The government and social agencies attempt to assist those without fathers, but the absence leaves a void that children may spend the rest of their lives trying to fill.

25% Of Kids Are Directly Affected

Approximately one in four children live without a father. This percentage has tripled since the 1960s.

Children from fatherless homes are exponentially more likely to have severe challenges in their lives.

  • High School Dropouts – 7 out of 10 dropouts grew up in fatherless homes.
  • Academic Limitation – students without their father are twice as likely to drop out, have poorer school performance, lower achievement test scores and lower IQ scores. When income is removed from the equation, twice as many high achievers come from two-parent households than from single-parent households.
  • Homelessness – 90% of homeless children and runaways are from fatherless homes.
  • Obesity – Children are twice as likely to suffer from obesity without a father.
  • Drug Dependency – 75% of adolescent drug rehabilitation patients are from homes without fathers.
  • Behavioral Problems – 85% of all children with behavioral problems come from fatherless homes.
  • Incarceration – 85% of youth in prison come from fatherless households and 70% of juveniles in state facilities have no father. The Department of Justice found that fatherless youths had significantly higher odds of incarceration. Those who never had a father in the household experienced the highest risk.
  • Child Abuse – Abuse or neglect is almost twice as likely in single-parent homes than those with two parents.
  • Sexual Assault – Four out of five rapists with anger problems come from homes without a father.
  • Anxiety, Depression, and Suicide – Fatherless children are more likely to face depression, and their suicide rate is double that of their peers with fathers. 63% of youths who commit suicide are fatherless.
  • Pregnancy – 71% of pregnant teens don’t have their father and almost four times as likely than those from father-present households. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
  • Problems in infancy – The influence of a father’s absence goes as far back as birth. Infants are at four times greater risk of infant mortality without their fathers. Infants have better weight gain and improved breastfeeding rates when they have a dad around. Little ones with fathers have higher sociability, confidence, and self-control.

In a single household, it could be argued that these results are by chance. But with the size of the sample groups used in recent research and polls, the correlation between fatherlessness and severe problems is clear.

What Do Dads Say About This?

What do dads say about this? Well, most dads say they spend too little time with their kids. When polled by the Pew Research Center, Six out of ten fathers felt this way. While most of them said this was due to work obligations, the second reason was that their children didn’t live with them. While these fathers are in their kids’ lives, they also remain partially absent.

This may be because fathers are inundated with subtle messages, telling them they are unnecessary, have little impact in their kid’s lives, or even pose a threat. Sitcoms and pop culture portray dads as uninvolved, incompetent, and unimportant parents. The message has always been that, in parenting, dads are the secondary parents

What Do We Do Now?

Despite society’s views on the role of the father in a household, the numbers don’t lie. Children are better off with their biological father in the house. We can see the symptoms of this all around us. Society needs to see this as a threat to the health and well-being of American children.

Hopefully, we can reverse this devastating trend. We need to appreciate the involved, caring, and nurturing fathers among us, as there are far too few. We need to set the bar higher for what a good father is. Fathers should be viewed as important as mothers, and also held to the same level of responsibility in caring for their offspring. The lifelong emptiness can be avoided by raising a child as a team.

As fathers and mothers, we truly make a difference in the lives of the next generation. The numbers are haunting reminders that we affect our children’s lives when we don’t do our absolute best.


1. National Center for Fathering, Fathering in America Poll, January 1999.

2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services press release, Friday, March 26, 1999

3. National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools

4. US Department of Justice, Special Report, Sept. 1988

5. Fulton County Georgia jail populations, Texas Department of Corrections, 1992

6. The effects absent fathers have on female development and college attendance (Franklin B. Krohn and Zoe Bogan, 2001)

7. Lang, D. L., Rieckmann, T., DiClemente, R. J., Crosby, R. A., Brown, L. K., & Donenberg, G. R. (2013). Multi-level factors associated with pregnancy among urban adolescent women seeking psychological services. Journal of Urban Health, 90, 212-223.

8. Alio, A. P., Mbah, A. K., Kornosky, J. L., Wathington, D., Marty, P. J., & Salihu, H. M. (2011). Assessing the impact of paternal involvement on Racial/Ethnic disparities in infant mortality rates. Journal of Community Health, 36(1), 63-68.

13.Pew Research Center, 2018 https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/01/08/most-dads-say-they-spend-too-little-time-with-their-children-about-a-quarter-live-apart-from-them/

14 National Council For Education Statistics https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2001/2001032.pdf

More Information:

US D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census

The National Fatherhood Initiative

Center for Disease Control

Previously published on Andrewak.com.

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