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Entries in absent fathers (4)


Research shows importance of fathers (for mice)

Although you might not get away with citing this as evidence in the family court, a recent animal study has shown how the lack of a father affects social attributes.

New findings from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre show that the absence of a father during critical growth periods leads to impaired social and behavioural abilities in adults. This research, which was conducted using mice,  is the first study to link father absenteeism with social attributes and to correlate these with physical changes in the brain.

The study used California mice which, like in some human populations, are monogamous and raise their offspring together.

The study compared the social behaviour and brain anatomy of mice that had been raised with both parents to those that had been raised only by their mothers. Mice raised without a father had abnormal social interactions and were more aggressive than counterparts raised with both parents. These effects were stronger for female offspring than for their brothers.

These results should incite researchers to look more deeply into the role of fathers during critical stages of growth and suggest that both parents are important in children’s mental health development.


Kids Without Dads programme

ITV's Tonight programme on Thursday 28th August looked at fatherlessness, following the recent Centre for Social Justice report on fractured families.

Recent research has shown that the number of lone parent families is on the rise in UK with over 1 million children living without any formal contact with their father. In certain areas of the country, young people are more likely to have a mobile phone in their pocket than a dad.

Fiona Foster travels up and down the country to find out about the impact of family breakdown and father absence. The UK rates as one of the top three countries in Europe with the highest number of single mums. Figures show that 2.8 million children live with their mother as the sole parent.

The programme explores the issues and prejudices li both mothers and fathers, highlighting the problems that are caused by the lack of male involvement in many children's lives. 

Maybe no surprises in this programme, but it did manage to convey some strong messages about the importance of fathers and the barriers that many face to stay involved.


David Cameron: preventing fathers from seeing their children is wrong

In a reply to an FNF Scotland supporter, Prime Minister David Cameron has clarified his view on the importance of fathers. 

The letter was written to the Prime Minister following the Father's Day article in the Sunday Telegraph criticising absent dads which raised so much indignation amongst fathers who are fighting to see their children.

His reply states:  "I understand that in some cases, fathers are prevented from seeing and helping to raise their children, and that is wrong."

He repeats the standard official line that "... fathers should continue to have a meaningful relationship with, and responsibility for, their children after separation where this is safe."

Cameron explains that his original article  referred only to those fathers who walk away from their financial and emotional responsibilities towards their children.

He adds: "The UK Government intends to assist parents, and other family members, especially grandparents, to agree arrangements for contact and to try to make sure that contact arrangements work, so that both parents continue to be involved in their child's upbringing following relationship breakdown."

So now you know.


Fathering should be treated as a public health issue

A new report from Addaction, the drug and alcohol charity, emphasises the importance of fathers and the impact that absentee fathers have on young people and suggests that fatherng should be treated as a public health issue.

It found that not having a father left young people feeling angry, less confident, more insecure and with self esteem problems. 

"What was particularly revealing was the impact that growing up without a dad had on these young people. Far from the view that the make-up of families does not matter, our evidence suggests that not having a dad can be deeply damaging to a young person, especially where there are no alternative positive male role models," commented the report's author Martin Glynn.

Interviewees also described how the impact of 'father hunger/deficit' had created a void within their lives. Many described feeling rootless with no sense of security or identity because of their father's absence; and how they had turned to anti-social behaviour or substance misuse as result.

The young dads who were interviewedsaid that they found it difficult to cope with being parents and their struggles were "often rooted in not having their own father's support in the process." 

One young man talked about the separation from his own child and how inadequate he felt not being able to parent adequately. A significant amount of his anguish was in seeing the same cycle that had affected him, now affecting his own child.