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How Absent Fathers Affect Children


Growing up without a father present isn’t easy. I’ve written extensively about my life without my dad. Although I turned out okay, I think my life would have been much different if I had a loving, involved father in my life.

Sadly, millions of kids are growing up with a father. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, 1 out of every 3 children in America live apart from their biological fathers. Sixty four percent of African American children live in father-absent homes. Thirty four percent of Hispanic children, and 25% white children live in father-absent homes. Fifty years ago, only 11% of children lived in father-absent homes.

These statistics are frightening. What’s more frightening is that I’m seeing this cycle of absent fathers continue within my own family. My niece, nephew, and cousins are living apart from their biological fathers. Some of the kids get to see their fathers periodically, while others haven’t seen their dads in years.

This cycle must stop because the consequences are dire. Children who live absent their biological fathers are, on average, at least two to three times more likely to be poor, to use drugs, to experience educational, health, emotional and behavioral problems, to be victims of child abuse, and to engage in criminal behavior than their peers who live with their married, biological (or adoptive) parents.

This infographic from National Fatherhood Initiative shows more ways that kids are affected by their father’s absence:

father abscence

Stay Strong,

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Join the Conversation: Did you grow up with your father? If so, how did it affect your life?

About Author

Frederick J. Goodall is the founder of Mocha Dad - a parenting website focused on fatherhood. He is passionate about parenting and helping men to be great dads, husbands, and role models. You can contact him at or on Twitter at


  1. It’s terribly sad when you look at those stats.. Before I was a Dad I could never understand a man not wanting to be near their kid, even if they were divorced. That’s what drop off points on the weekend are for.. But for all these “men” and I use that term very loosely who abandon their kids.. wow there is no excuse. Glad that my personal friends who are remarried, etc. are all the kinds of guys who not only take care of their own kids, but their new family kids as well. Picking up the pieces the losers leave behind.

    • As a person who grew up with an involved father, I know how hard it is on children. I wish more men would understand how their absence affects their children.

  2. Ryan Sanders  on

    thanks for sharing this, Fred. these are sad and frustrating stats, but I’m glad you are helping educate people.