Absence of biological fathers

The effect of the presence or absence of biological fathers has become a growing trend in the United States; it plays a critical role in the development of children, typically, African-American boys. In examining this problem, two articles were taken into consideration: (1) Behavioral Differences between African American Male Adolescents with Biological Fathers and those without Biological Fathers in the home (Elaine et al., 1999) and (2) Sons, Daughters and Fathers’ Absence: Differentials in father-leaving probabilities and in home environments (Mott, 1994). Although the main focus of each article is the absence of fathers, Mott takes a different approach.


In comparison, both authors realize the importance of fathers in the household and feel as if it is an issue that should be taken seriously. In 1995, approximately 24 million children – 28% of the population of the American children – did not live with their biological fathers, an increase of 17.5% over that population 36 years ago (Shapiro, Schrof, Sharp, and Friedman, 1995). Also, one important factor that may be missed by the layperson is taken into account by both authors; the effects of matriarchal dominance. Elaine et al, and Mott agree that the absence of the father produces a strong matriarchal and secure force against a hostile world.

There are numerous differences within the two articles; however, only three will be discussed: Mott examines the effects of the matriarch on the rearing of girls and boys, while Elaine et. al. does not which leads to different methodological approaches. Elaine et al. attempts to examine the differences in family environment, school environmental variables, and involvement with alcohol and conduct disorder. Mott does not; He examines the differences between black and white children while Elaine et al. focuses on African-American children. Although there are differences in the aspects explored involving single parent homes, neither is of less importance than the other. It also leaves room for further research.

Implications and Applications

The absence of fathers and the effect is has on African-American boys is extremely pertinent. I grew up in Madison County, Florida without my father. Some of the issues explored by Elaine et al. and Mott are typical of my life. For example, the former explores the relationship between the absence of fathers and engaging in conduct disorder. Elaine et al. concluded that there was a significant difference between the skipping school and cutting class in father absent adolescents and father present adolescents (1999).

As an adolescent, it appeared as if the others around me in dual parent households were more structured and obedient. Perhaps this is due to the disciplinary role that fathers typically play. On the other hand, other conduct disorder, such as running away from home, did not apply to me. This is in agreement with the myth (which may possible be true) that African American children do not runaway from home because of not knowing where to go and most importantly the fear of not being able to return. Subsequently, Mott takes the difference in child raising patterns into effect when considering the outcome of single parent homes (1994).

In addition, Mott also examines the relationship between girls and the absence of their father (1999). He concluded that gender difference was less pronounced in African-American children (1999, p.11). In other words, regardless of your gender, the absence e of a father generally has the same effect. His could also be the result of cultural differences. However, my sisters seemed to be favored in my household. My mother and my sisters were able to bond on a different level than my mother and me. There seemed to be a lack of understanding when it came to gender specifics (e.g. sex and relationships) although my mother claimed to understand since she was once a girl.

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