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Trying to be a social change agent and assist youth in their daily struggles, I find it necessary to research and find the best solutions to the issues that hinder the positive well-being of our youth. Of the many issues, some question whether or not youth need to have a father in their lives. Does having a father in a child’s life make a difference? Does having a father dictate the youth’s ability to love? With a father in their lives will youth have a better opportunity at being successful in life? Many people believe that having a father can make a positive difference in the lives of youth; and there are some who believe that children are better off without a father…yes, better off.
Have you ever heard a woman say, “I don’t need a man to help me raise my child?” Whether you have or not, I have an interesting story to tell. There is a woman who claims to have completed her own research, and included her personal views on raising (her) children without a father. Through her research, this single mom says that she has come to realize that children are better off without a father in their lives. The example that she used included her own daughters; she suggested that they learned how to be more independent, learned about teamwork, how to fix things around the house, and so on. She further stated that a female’s strength should be ‘nurtured’; had their father been in their lives her girls would not have learned all of these important values.
The single mom followed up by stating that there is ‘supposed’ to be research connected to many youth who abuse drugs, get pregnant, end up in prison, and suffer from emotional/behavioral problems; however, she has not been able to find any data that show youth that take negative paths do so because of their not having a father in their lives. She says that there is a great possibility that youth who take the wrong path do so because they are duplicating their parents’ (mothers’) behavior. This single mom feels strongly about her ‘research’ findings, and plans to begin sharing this information with other mothers who will listen with hopes to start a club of women refuting the ‘so-called’ findings of professional theorists.
If you listen to a number of individuals who are or have been raised by single moms they too are convinced that there is and/or was no need in their having a father in their lives. I give my mother props for the job that she has done raising my brother and I, but it would be untruthful for me to say that I would not have benefited in certain areas of my life if my father had been around.
Now, don’t get me wrong….I don’t believe everything theorist tell us either; in fact, as a PhD student there is much that I’ve learned, and even more that I have chosen to ‘forget’. But, when it comes to this particular topic and others like it, I must say that the ills of society speak for themselves. I have done research of my own, and some of my research revolved around the youth that I’ve worked with; unfortunately, many of them coming from single mother homes. As previously mentioned, I too was raised in a single parent home. I do not share the same thoughts as the single mother previously discussed.
Aside from the fact that there are tons of studies that show the benefits in children being raised by both parents, this has been the way of the world since the beginning of time; men and women raised their children together as God intended (Quran, Torah, and Bible). Today, we have so many broken homes; people fail to realize the importance of a child’s need to have balance (two parents). Many theorist suggest that from birth throughout adolescence youth gain all the important values needed in order to grow into healthy adults; and of course, this is not the case for a few but it is for many.
By eight weeks old, an infant is aware of the differences between the male and female closest to them; this provides the child with a broader, richer experience of contrasting relational interaction and they are taught that men and women are different and have different ways of dealing with life.
Men and women play with children differently; this provides encouragement (independence) from the father and equity (security) from the mother.
The styles of parenting create a balance which helps children remain safe when expanding their experiences and confidence; this is done because one parent encourages risk without consideration of consequence, while the other encourages the child to avoid risk. One without the other can be unhealthy for the child’s well-being.
Dads tend to see their child in relation to the rest of the world. Mothers tend to see the rest of the world in relation to their child. Both parents preparing a child for life will help the child in learning how they should be treated and how to treat others. The possibility of their participating in healthy relationships and leading happier more successful lives is greater with a father in their lives than without.
There are many youth who are aware of, and acknowledge their father’s absence as being a part of the ‘issues’ in their lives. Some have such a yearning for the support, the guidance, and the love of their fathers that they begin to seek to fill these needs via the affection and attention from outsiders, negative behavior, drugs/alcohol, etc.
It amazes me at how so many of the youth that I’ve spoken to can relate to this but adults cannot, particularly scorned single mothers. I too was one of them; and I too shared (past tense) in the, “I don’t need a man to help me raise my child” syndrome. If I knew during my teen and adolescent years what I know now, then maybe I would not have suffered so much heartache and disappointment. It is this thought that drives me to make a difference in the lives of our youth. If we can instill some of the missing values in the minds and hearts of today’s youth, then we can possibly begin to see a change in the number of youth growing up without fathers.
You think making a change is far-fetched??? Think the attempt to do so is a waste of time??? Someone recently said to me, “What is the point, this country is too far gone to see any change.” Well I beg to differ; change has to start somewhere, sometime….why not right here, right now???
A life today....a nation tomorrow (deep statement)!
Mrs. Tomaro M. Pilgrim, MS