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The father factor: Meaning of fatherhood for men

In the past, the presence of the father and the mother in a family was the crucial factor determining its success. However, today, things have changed and the family structure of modern times does not quite resemble the one which was popular during the previous century.

Today, more and more people end their marriages with divorces, living and raising their children separately, out of the wedlock. Relationships between men and women have changed into less serious and definite ones, not lasting for long periods of time.

However, we are left to wonder if such a lifestyle has influenced the lives of children or not. Surely, the father factor is crucial in the life of every child, regardless of many who beg to differ. The absence of the father leaves a hole in the personality of the child, often leading to problems later on.

Obligations of a Father

Basically, a man becomes a father once his first child is born. When this happens, the man turns into a father and the process cannot be reversed or annulled. Surely, the man may have other children later and his responsibilities may change during the course of his fatherhood. Regardless, the status of the father prevails in his life.

One thing is for sure, the absence of the father figure in a family can lead to numerous emotional and behavioral problems, affecting both the child and the mother. Nowadays, about 24 million children live in households without a father figure.

Moreover, statistically, once the father is missing from a family, it is five times more likely to become poor. In fact, 38.4% of all children who live only with their mothers are poor, according to a research from 2002. Also, a child whose father does not live with him/her is 54% more likely to be poor than a child who has both the father and the mother living under the same roof.

Additionally, unmarried mothers have 1.8% greater chances of losing their babies than married women. Related to this, unmarried women have smaller chances of obtaining prenatal care and greater chances of giving birth to a low-weight baby, when compared to married mothers.

Interestingly enough, many fathers who attended breastfeeding classes motivated their female partners to start breastfeeding their children. On the other hand, 23% of unmarried mothers smoked during their pregnancy.

The list of hardships related to living without a father does not end here. Namely, children living only with their mothers are more likely to get incarcerated during their lives than those growing up in families with both parents. According to a research carried out by the Department of Justice in 2002, 39% of all jail inmates grew up in mother-only households.

Single mothers are more prone to addictions, depression, anxiety and frustrations, mainly caused by the financial pressures related to parenting and providing everything for their children on their own. A study encompassing 2,921 women discovered that single mothers have 50% greater chances of suffering from depression than married mothers. Also, children toddlers who grow up in single-parent families are more likely to fall, get burnt or suffer from some other kinds of accidents.

All in all, families with both parents are more likely to function better than single-parent families. Apart from distributing parental roles equally and organizing their private life better, married couples can cooperate and rely on each other, using their emotional, social and personal bond for dealing with countless problems which may appear. In such a family, children are bound to have a better life than those who are missing a parent for various reasons.

Yet, we should not neglect the fact that there are always exceptions; some single-parent families manage to overcome their difficulties and children from such families grow up to be successful adults and excellent parents.

Fatherhood for Fathers

Ideally, fathers are supposed to take care of the childbearing roles, activities and duties, along with all other requirements of this state of affairs. Note that a father can be both the person who is biologically and non-biologically related to the child. Thus, the father figure is defined by both the man in a relationship with the mother and the mother herself. Yet, we most commonly understand and perceive fatherhood through a male perspective.

Thus, the meaning of fatherhood is greatly based on the attitude and on the standpoint. Namely, some male individuals may believe that they are providing their children with all the material, social, emotional and interpersonal support necessary while, in this eyes of the public, this is not quite so. The criteria is different and there are some global roles of fatherhood which are most commonly taken into consideration when father figures are described and defined.

To sum up, the father figure is something relative, but at the same time socially defined. Having a child does not make you a father in all the functions of this notion. Rather, there is a whole plethora of social, emotional, interpersonal and legal requirements you have to fulfill in order to become an ideal male member of your family.

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