By Joe Carter
In Scripture the word “father” is found more than 1,100 times. Yet in America it’s become increasingly harder to find a father in the home. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24 million children in America — one out of three children — now live in a home in which the biological father is absent.
Increasing father involvement in their children’s lives is one of the most important ways to address material and spiritual poverty in this country. One way we can do that is to reiterate the importance of fathers and the difference their presence makes. Almost every study conducted in the social sciences confirms what the Bible teaches — fathers matter.
Here are 25 facts from social science research on the effects of having a father in the home:
- Children living with fathers in the home tend to fare better on cognitive achievement and behavioral outcomes.
- Adolescents living in intact families tend to report closer relationships with their fathers.
- Among urban fathers, those who frequently attend religious services tend to be more engaged with their children.
- Close relationships between adolescents and their fathers are positively associated with adolescents’ psychological well-being.
- Adolescents with more involved fathers tend to exhibit lower levels of behavioral problems.
- Adolescents who report having more positive relationships with their fathers are less likely to engage in delinquency.
- Adolescents who report having more positive relationships with their fathers are less likely to abuse substances.
- Individuals whose fathers showed more involvement in their lives early on tend to attain higher levels of education.
- Growing up without a father appears to be associated with greater likelihood of incarceration later in life.
- Fathers’ religiosity is linked to higher quality of parent-child relationships.
- Fathers’ engagement in their children’s activities was linked to higher academic performance.
- Among adolescent girls, those who have a strong relationship with their fathers are less likely to report experiencing depression.
- Close father-adolescent bonds protect against the negative influence of peer drug use.
- Adolescent girls who have a close relationship with their fathers are more likely to delay sexual activity.
- . Adolescent girls whose fathers were present during their childhood are less likely to become pregnant.
- Adolescent males who report a close relationship with their fathers are more likely to anticipate having a stable marriage in the future.
- Men who become fathers outside of marriage are more likely to be poor.
- Fathers of intact families spend, on average, more time with their children.
- Children raised in intact families by happily married parents tend to be more religious in adulthood.
- Children raised in intact families are more likely to have stable and healthy romantic relationships as adults.
- Intact families are more likely to provide a safe home for children.
- Adolescent girls who have never lived apart from their parents are less likely to report sexual abuse than those who have.
- Girls who experienced a parental separation during childhood are more likely to engage in early sexual activity.
- Among teenage boys, those from intact families with frequent religious attendance average the fewest sexual partners.
- Children in father-absent homes are almost four times more likely to be poor.