Fatherlessness is one of the barriers regarding the healthy development of today’s girls. It is the situation where children grow without a father figure in their lives. This can be caused by death or where the father is absent from the home due to various reasons like divorce, women getting pregnant before marriage, abuse from the female spouse or acute stress due to burdens in the family. The common society stresses the importance of fathering and gives some unfortunate implications of father-absence in childrearing. In truth, there exist some negative effects of fatherlessness that are very evident in most of the fatherless children. This essay, therefore, intends to explain how this barrier has negatively impacted a girl’s cognitive, emotional, relational and spiritual development and also to provide possible protective factors or practical solutions to the said barrier.
Lifshitz (1976) argues that children who grew without a father figure in their lives especially from the ages of 7 to 8 have impeded cognitive development and cannot be differentiated from their main families especially that of the father as he is missing. As a result, these children spend a lot of time and use a lot of energy in their social circles without their family trying to accomplish their differentiation with their missing father, and consequently, they miss out on critical social contact and identification with their peers. Them concentrating too much on searching on their identity and not being in contact with peers may cause social isolation and reduce their academic performance.
A study on the consequences of divorce done on more than 699 elementary schools by Guidubaldi, Perry, & Nastasi (1987) showed that children from the single-parent households performed significantly worse than those from two-parent families. Ares tested for these results included: the rating of parents towards the hostility of children, nightmares, popularity, and anxiety; teachers’ evaluations according to behavior, mental health, level of stress, self- control; the scores of the children academically and their physical health.
Moreover, girls who are deprived of a stable relationship with a non-exploitative adult male who loves them usually have issues of security and trust thus affecting their emotions negatively. They tend to struggle with social relationships and consequently, they become more vulnerable to dropping out of school early, becoming teen parents, and suffering depression-like adults. Most situations occur because the single parent tends to lean on their children for support, therefore forcing the child to mature too quickly to help her mother out, thus depriving her of appropriate developmental stages. Even though, some girls regress and therefore not going through proper developmental stages. This is because of their socialization as relational beings, thus fatherlessness attacks their egocentrism and shame.
Also, fatherless girls tend to be weak spiritually because they feel hopeless. They do not have subsequent channels to uplift them spiritually. Most of them end up being drugs and alcohol addicts and engaging themselves in promiscuity because they feel rejected and abandoned already. They do not see any need or even sense in believing in any supreme being because they lack love due to their situation of being fatherless (Moore, 2016).
Luckily, there are some practical solutions and protective factors that can help foster cognitive, emotional, relational and spiritual health into adulthood as a woman. First, a consistent and connected father figure can be introduced in her life. In most situations, the grandfather fits this position. However, any adult male is it an uncle can adjust this position, as long the said individual is an exemplary good man, loves the girl and has the right morals to be able to set a good example to the child.
Second, the mother should be able to recognize how the daughter cops with this situation if at all she has some mechanisms. She should be open to her and talk to her about everything like how people treat her and also encourage her to be robust against anyone who tries to take advantage of her situation (Scott, 2017). The mother should also be able to read any signs of depression or symptoms that the girl is trying to get attention from her male friends and equip her with strong coping mechanisms and character traits to avoid more problems.
Thirdly, apart from the family members, the fatherless girl can be helped to find positive male role models in her life. Such good males may be the fathers of her friends, her team coach, her teacher, or even a good guy from her church. In this, she will experience how good men behave and treat other people and will, therefore, start to see the character traits of the good men. As a mother, one should avoid bringing many men to the house, especially those that can be wrong role models thus dangerous to their daughter. They should ensure that the men she interacts with are of good morals and full of positivity (Dobson, 2005).
Moreover, one might be forced to choose the right environment for their daughter especially the place to live. There is a need for a single parent to surround themselves with a nurturing and supportive group of friends and family members. Friends and family that spend their time clubbing may not be a good example to the child; therefore, it is good to choose responsible friends who will impact your daughter positively. In as much as connecting with friends who have good men as the father of their children may not be very comfortable, those connections can positively impact the lives of the fatherless child.
Besides, it is essential to building anything that surrounds her like virtues, e.g. respect, her friends, her character and what she loves doing. Once a mother demonstrates and demands respect, she teaches her daughter the same thing her father would have taught her. By knowing her friends, the mother can influence them to see her daughter as she is and never look down on her. If she is so much into her friends, this can help. Again, knowing her character will help while reprimanding her (Wilson, 2017). If she has started trying to impress men either through social media or otherwise, it is good to notice it and counsel them on possible consequences in a motherly way. Knowing what she loves doing will help in finding opportunities for her, therefore, improving her self-esteem.
From the principles like the principle of diversity and that of gleaned from Dr. Dobson, it is good for anyone to embrace their situation. Even though fatherlessness has many negative implications, there are many vital lessons to be learned from fatherlessness and this situation should not be seen as hopeless and end of life. It is possible for fatherless girls to overcome the challenges and become better people in society. The society too should refrain from believing that all orphan girls suffer emotionally, physically and spiritually as this may affect the victims negatively.
Dobson, J. C. (2005). Bringing up girls. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
Guidubaldi, J., Perry, J. D., & Nastasi, B. K. (1987). Assessment and intervention for children of divorce: Implications of the NASP-KSU nationwide survey. Advances in family intervention, evaluation, and theory, 4, 33-69.
LIFSHITZ, M. (1976). Long range effects of father’s loss: The cognitive complexity of bereaved children and their school adjustment. British journal of medical psychology, 49(2), 189-197.
Moore, T. A. (2016). Paternal absence: The effects on adult daughters and their intimate relationships: A qualitative study. California State University, Long Beach.
Scott, J. N. (2017). Impact of Fatherlessness on Academic Achievement, Delinquent Behavior, Sexual Behavior and Attachment Style (Doctoral dissertation, Tennessee State University).
Wilson, T. D. (2017). The Impact of Social And Psychological Factors on the Intimate Relationships of Fatherless African American Women (Doctoral dissertation, Texas Southern University).
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