Father Hunger is a phrase many psychologists, authors and poets use to describe the universal and life-long yearning children have for a father’s love and involvement. Sometimes loving dads satisfy that hunger. Other children continue to yearn when their need is not met by engaged fathers. Some starve for lack of fathering.
Psychological Effects of Father Absence
Fatherlessness leaves children hungering—craving for dad’s affection, affirmation, and loving presence. Father hungry children tend not to grow up to be healthy, well-adjusted and happy adults. A host of studies link fatherless to many serious social problems. Children from fatherless homes account for:
63 percent of youth suicides
71 percent of pregnant teenagers
90 percent of all homeless and runaway children
70 percent of juveniles in state-operated institutions
85 percent of all youth who exhibit behavior disorders
80 percent of rapists motivated with displaced anger
71 percent of all high school dropouts
75 percent of all adolescents in chemical abuse centers
85 percent of all youths sitting in prison.[i]
Researchers Frank Furstenberg and Kathleen Harris reveal that more important than a father’s presence or even his living at home is how close a child feels to his or her father. That feeling of closeness, they argue, is most predictably associated with positive life outcomes for the child even twenty-five years later. Based on these findings, Dr. Kyle Pruett notes, “Children who feel a closeness to their father are twice as likely as those who do not to enter college or find stable employment after high school, 75 percent less likely to have a teen birth, 80 percent less likely to spend time in jail, and half as likely to experience multiple depression symptoms.”[ii]
A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association in the mid 1990s confirmed that “doing lots of activities together is not the crucial variable in the relationship between parent and child; rather, it is a sense of connectedness.”[iii]
Satisfying the Hunger
Ultimately, it’s how close a child feels to their dad that makes all the difference as to how satisfied their hunger. If you’re a dad, that means that your focus ought to be, as much and as often as possible, and as intentionally as you can focus, on creating that feeling of closeness with your kids.
May our children never go hungry, as some of us did.
Great Dads Shape Great Kids.
Be a Great Dad Today.
[i]Reported in John Sowers, Fatherless Generation: Redeeming the Story (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), 36-37.
[ii] Cited in Kyle D. Pruett M.D., Fatherneed: Why Father Care Is as Essential as Mother Care for Your Child (New York: Broadway Books, 2000), 38.
[iii] Cited in Gail Sheehy, Understanding Men’s Passages: Discovering the New Map of Men’s Lives (New York: Balllantine Books, 1998), 166.
Post by Keith Zafren, founder of The Great Dads Project and author of the award-winning book, How to Be a Great Dad—No Matter What Kind of Father You Had.
Men who want to be great dads love the stories Keith Zafren tells, the practical skills he teaches, and the personal coaching he offers. Keith has spent seventeen years learning firsthand how to raise three great teenagers and stay close to them, no matter what. He coaches busy dads not to repeat the mistakes their fathers made, but instead, to create fantastic relationships with their kids. Check out his free Great Dad Video Training.