According to the US Census Bureau, 36.3% of children are living absent of their biological fathers. Beginning in 1960 with 8% of children living without their biological father, that percentage has continued to increase. The issue of absent fathers has raised many questions as to what effects this has on individuals and society. Absent fathers (a term that can consist of many different things) can have a profound effect on the development of their daughter’s relationships, especially when it comes to their relationships with other men. While the research on this topic may be lacking, what is out there is clear that fathers do play an important role in their development. Women can face things such as becoming sexually promiscuous, low self-esteem, trust issues, or other difficulties with sustaining relationships (Krohn& Bogan, 599). While there is some research that negates the effect an absent father has, such as having an abusive father or lesbian couples as parents the research for this field continues to grow and even though the research on these effects may be limited, the amount continues to increase with promise.
A father can be absent in many different ways. An absent father is defined as “those who do not interact with their children on a regular basis and consequently do not play a significant role in their development. Divorce, death, and abandonment are all forms of absence” (Krohn & Bogan, 599). Death of a female’s father is simply their father dying before or during the age of development. Divorce is when parents separate and the child does not live with the father. Abandonment can be either through the father leaving and not returning, imprisonment, a continually working father (or a workaholic) and/or the father not being there emotionally. All of these situations of absent fathers can lead to different effects of a child’s development.
When divorce and abandonment cause absent fathers, the effects can be much more crippling than if the loss occurs by death. It has been shown that girls who have an absent father as a result of divorce or abandonment seek out much more attention and physical contact from men in comparison to girls from intact homes (Krohn& Bogan, 599). In a study conducted by E. Mavis Hetherington, girls were interviewed about their absent fathers. When brought into an interview room the girls could either sit in a chair right next to the interviewer, a chair across from the interviewer, or a chair the furthest away from the interviewer (Lynn, 261). While the results with a women interviewer did not show anything significant, when the interviewer was a man, the girls with whom had been affect by either abandonment or divorce, sat closest to the male interviewer as compared the girls with fathers, which sat at an intermediate distance from the interviewer (Lynn, 61). Girls growing up without a father are more likely to experience stressed relationships with men. Women who have did not have fathers growing up feel a constant need to be accepted by men and will aggressively seek attention from them (Krohn& Bogan, 599). They do not receive the attention from their father figures they need and as a result will constantly seek the attention from other men.
In contrast, father loss by death does affect females differently than that of abandonment or divorce. Unlike girls who have an absent father from divorce or abandonment, girls whose father died before the age of five are more likely to shy away from men and are more reluctant to start a relationship with them (Krohn& Bogan, 599). In the same experiment by Hetherington, girls who had experienced loss of their father by death would choose the chair furthest away from the male interviewer. In addition, the daughters who lost their fathers to death made less eye contact, talked, and smiled less to the male interviewer in comparison to girls with fathers and those who had absent fathers because of divorce or abandonment (Lynn, 261). Girls whose fathers have died are more likely to avoid contact with men and as a result have more stressed relationships.
In general girls who grow up without fathers are more likely to experience problems with relationships than girls who grow up with a father. “Adolescent girls raised in fatherless households are far more likely to engage in promiscuous sexual activity before marriage, to cohabit, to get pregnant out of wedlock and to have an abortion” (Krohn& Bogan, 599). The father is helpful in developing a daughter’s femininity and in their sexual development (Williamson, 208). Women who had absent fathers growing up tend to have idealized relationships with men, as a hope to get their lost father back, but then comes to the realization that the relationship is flawed and end up disappointed, only to start the cycle over again (Gill, 225). In some interesting statistics, 60% of strippers come from an absent father (Adams,