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About Absent Fathers & Child Behavior

By Martha Holden ; Updated September 26, 2017
A father is a critical element in a child’s full development.

Fathers play a critical role in nurturing their children from birth to adulthood -- the presence of a father has significant benefits on a child’s intellectual, social and emotional maturation. Children who grow up in families without fathers face several challenges -- they lack a strong male figure to hold them accountable. Fathers who do not involve themselves in their children’s lives also expose them to the same challenges children with absentee dads face.

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Children who grow up without a father are more likely to develop violent behavior, according to a 2012 article in the British newspaper "The Guardian." They often seek inadvisable role models who are likely to influence them into violence or dangerous gangs. These children are more likely to rely on violent outbursts when upset.

Intellectual Growth

Absentee fathers can affect a child’s intellectual development negatively, especially a male child. Mothers focus on nurturing their children while fathers focus on encouraging achievement, especially in school, according to Colorado State University Extension. The presence of both parents from infancy also creates a secure environment that gives children the confidence to interact and learn from their environment, which helps their intellectual growth.

Emotional Growth

Fathers pay attention to low-intensity emotions in their children and help validate these emotions, according to Colorado State University Extension. Additionally, children who grow up with fathers exhibit more patience and understanding than children with absentee fathers. The absence of a father also affects a child’s behavior while dating; girls will exhibit trust issues while boys might lack confidence while in a relationship. A strong father figure helps children become more emotionally secure and sociable, according to the Child Welfare Information Gateway.


Children who grow up without a father do not necessarily experience negative effects. Mothers, caregivers, teachers and the child’s environment all play critical roles in nurturing a well-rounded child. In instances where the father work or stays away from the child, he can still involve himself in the child’s life through regular communication. This helps ensure that the child has the love and attention of both parents. Alternatively, single mothers can enlist the help of a strong and influential male figure such as an uncle or a close family friend in raising the children.

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About the Author

Martha Holden began writing professionally in 2002. She has contributed articles on food, weddings, travel, human resources/management and parenting to numerous publications. Holden holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of Houston.

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