By Eric Geiger
In their latest book, The Boy Crisis, Warren Farrell and John Gray highlight stats and research that point to the pains of boys growing up deprived of an involved father. They also offer wisdom and counsel on how to invest in your sons. Though I don’t have sons, the research reminded me of the great responsibility I have as a dad. The countless studies on the benefits of an involved father and the consequences of an absent father remind us how important our role as father is. In Appendix B of their book, Farrell and Gray give 55 research-based benefits of an involved father (yes, 55!). The body of research on this issue is staggering. I won’t regurgitate the appendix, but here are some significant findings on what happens to a child who is deprived of a father. I have placed them under five broad categories:
Children who suffer the loss of a father have, by the age of nine, a 14 percent reduction in telomere length—the most reliable predictors of life expectancy.
The more frequently a father visits the hospital of an infant who is born prematurely, the more quickly the infant is released from the hospital.
Students coming from father-present families score higher in math and science even when they come from weaker schools.
The more interaction a boy has with his dad before six months of age, the higher his mental competence.
Living without a father doubles a child’s chance of dropping out of high school.
Father absence predicts the profile of both the bully and the bullied: poor self-esteem, poor grades and poor social skills.
Among youths in prisons, 85 percent grew up in a fatherless home.