“There’s no way to address fatherlessness comfortably. The fact is divorce and family breakdown—which, to answer my emailer’s question, is the root of fatherlessness—is catastrophic for children. There’s more than one reason why, but an obvious one is that in the majority of cases, divorce separates children from their fathers. This is destructive to both boys and girls, but each sex suffers differently.” This statement was made in a February 20, 2018 opinion piece by Suzanne Venker, addressing the crisis of school shootings.
So how much impact do parents have on their children?
This is probably a question we don’t think about enough, but I assume that most will agree that parents play a critical role in their kid’s lives. Most parents want to be positive role models for their children. They want the best for them. They want success and happiness for them. But often parents don’t know how to be—or provide—what their children need. This is probably true, at some point, in every parent’s experience.
One of the most impacting relationships in a child’s life is the one between their mom and dad. A strong, healthy relationship between parents provides security and structure for children and is foundational to their emotional and even physical well-being. It impacts their self-image. It affects their confidence and ability to face challenges and succeed. It strengthens their ability to trust and develop healthy relationships themselves. The opposite also applies, as divorce and missing fathers can have a devastating impact on children.
A child’s home environment is one of the most significant elements impacting their success as a student and developing citizen. The relational and developmental supports that children get (or miss out on) from their parents almost always follow them to school. They demonstrate positively in things like eagerness, curiosity, confidence, joy, attentiveness, teamwork, initiative, leadership, interaction. In contrast, children often demonstrate negative signs of depression, self-isolation, lack of interest, anger, and other hurtful behaviors.
The purpose of this article is not to address cures for struggling parents or children dealing with the negative impact of parental dysfunction. Thankfully, there is help for those who want it. The purpose of this article is to help parents stop, think, and talk about the impact of their lives on their children and take steps to keep their relationships and children from becoming casualties. It is a conversation worth investing in.
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