Divorce or separation and its impact

How often in American society do people experience an overwhelming feeling of joy, a feeling of satisfaction, or the amazing feeling of unconditional love? When asked this question only one experience comes to mind when all three of these feelings are felt in unison, and at the strongest possible manner possible; the experience of one’s child coming into the world. When a new born child sees their mom or dad for the first time and is comforted in the arms of a parent to experience safety, protection, and love for the very first time in his or her life on Earth, the parent experiences feeling they never thought possible to feel. This experience can give meaning to the life of someone who never in their life has felt truly loved or valued as a person. Child birth is a truly life altering experience for even the hardest of hearts. Unfortunately, more times than not, this feeling is torn away from truly loving and caring individuals by a family crisis. Whether it be through a tragedy which claims the life of a child far before any person can rationalize as fair, a dramatic divorce, or a simple separation of two unwed partners, the experience it very similar. The question is why does a divorce or separation have to have this result for one party or the other? Unfortunately, the party that most often experiences this feeling during and after a separation are the fathers. Many times fathers, especially unwed, are stripped of the wonders of fatherhood unjustly by children’s mothers and legal systems around the world. Fathers play a very important role in a child’s life and a child in his or her father’s life.

After a man and woman with children divorce, or separate if never married, in most cases, the second step is for one party or the other to file for custody of the child or children. Generally speaking the male counterpart, regardless of past history with his children, has very little chance of being awarded custody as approximately 90% of divorced or separated fathers receive only partial custody of his child or children and approximately 38% are awarded no visitation at all (Pearson, 2009 pg1). This example is not due to the fault of the fathers for the most part. In general, today’s legal system, with regard to family matters, is very much in the favor of women, and mostly disregards any rights and responsibilities of committed and responsible fathers. The same issue has been noticed in the child welfare system. Brown, Callahan, Strega, Walmsley, and Dominelli state that emphasis on involved fathers is popular media however child welfare policies and practices seem to promote the uninvolved father (2009 pg. 1). Child welfare agencies are strictly focused on the woman and only seem to be concerned with the father when he is a reported and documented threat to the child in question. It would seem reasonable that if child-welfare is involved because the mother is not upholding her responsibilities to the child then the father should be contacted as placement for the child, however this is not usually the case. Generally fathers who express interest in custody of their child are advised to get a lawyer and fight for custody (Brown pg. 2). This seems completely contradictory of child welfare’s objective as they exist to promote a safe and stable living experience for the child with a natural parent.

Removing a father from the everyday parenting role has many negative impacts on the fathers, which in turn can have indirect negative impacts on the child or children. One instance of this is caused by the amount of conflict between a mother and non-resident father which in turn can cause conflict between the father and his child (Harper pg. 3). This is a tremendous problem as many times mothers of children will create fights with the ex-spouse out of anger or frustration. In doing so, the mother, and father by participating, is severely affecting the child’s psychological state. This causes conflict between the child and father and undermines the fact that a strong bond between father and child is very important during early and even middle childhood for the child well-being (Harper pg. 19). Situations of a father losing his full time role as a dad can have tremendous psychological effects on even the strongest of men, and this stress, or depression, is many times sensed by children and in turn causes the children to suffer from the same or similar issues.

The most substantial consequence of fatherlessness is the effect in which the children his or herself suffer. Many times mother’s, and fathers in some cases, feel that the opposite partner is not substantial to a child’s development. This belief could not be further from the truth. Children need a mother and a father in their lives. It is for this reason that it requires a man and a woman to reproduce. When a father is removed from a child’s life, either by natural causes or by an act of the legal system, many times the child will suffer irreversible consequences. For example, 63% of all youth suicides are that of children you have had a father stolen from their life (Pearson pg. 1). This is a tremendous figure much too large to be considered a coincidence. Another example is that of pregnant unwed teen girls; approximately 71% grew up with no stable father figure in their lives (Pearson pg. 1). This fact should reveal to people that there is a major problem with removing a father from a child’s life. If one thinks about this statistic they will realize that the problem is multiplying faster than squirrels. If a young girl has loses her father due to a situation that very easily could have been prevented, and she then gets pregnant out of wedlock because of this then right away there is another child who will most likely grow up without a father in its life. Basically we arrive at a snowball effect from there. Take a good look inside this countries prison system, what will be found is 85% of all youth nationwide who are incarcerated were born into a home and raised without a father (Pearson pg. 1). This alone is horrible enough that one would think the judicial system would stop blaming the men and throw their bias out the window. The amount of tax dollars alone that would be saved is staggering. Harper states that even the mere involvement of a father in his child’s life is not enough (Harper pg. 17). A father must take an interest in his child’s life and set an example for the child to follow. Children with a close physical relationship but a distant psychological one with their fathers are more likely to exhibit behavior problems in school than children who have well rounded relationships with their fathers (Harper pg. 7). This means that a father must be permitted to do more than visit his children 4 days out of each month if anyone at all is truly interested in the best interest of the child. The sooner the judicial system and angry mothers figure this out the better off the children of this world will be.

The solution to the earlier mentioned problems is simple, non-resident fathers must be permitted to be fully integrated into their children’s lives. These fathers need to be allowed to participate in a range of everyday activities that allow them to function as parents and not just as regular visitors (Jenkins pg. 8). Just because a man and woman cannot get along like civilized human beings does not mean that children must suffer from the loss of one parent or the other. In order for children to grow up with the best possible potential they must have regular everyday access to a mother and a father. Contrary to popular belief it is possible to cooperate with a person that one does not particularly care for. May children are in dire need for their parents to grow up and put their childish and selfish behavior aside and, together, focus on how to make arrangements that are in the best interest of the children. It is very sad when the child caught in the middle is more mature than the two people who created the child.

Finally, when all the facts and statistics are uncovered, fathers and children do, very much, play very important roles in one another’s lives. Having a stable father figure in a child life is critical for the child to reach his or her potential, and stay out of trouble in life, and who is better qualified to be a father figure to a child than the child’s true father. Having a child is truly the most amazing event one can or will ever experience. Having a child can change the life of even the most hopeless sole, however, taking one’s child away can destroy life of the most successful and brilliant person in the world. Divorced, separated, and unwed parents all over the world need nothing more than to put their personal feelings aside and, together, even separated, think of how they can still give the child the life and childhood in which he or she deserves. Children need a mom and a dad, for it is for this reason that god created Adam and Eve not just one or the other.

Work Cited

Amin, Ruhul, and Jamir Ahmed. "Unwed Adolescent Fathers: Their Involvement in the Lives of Adolescent Mothers and Their Children." Negro Educational Review 55.4 (2004): 187- 195. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 10 Nov. 2010.

Brown, Leslie, et al. "Manufacturing ghost fathers: the paradox of father presence and absence in child welfare." Child & Family Social Work 14.1 (2009): 25-34. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 10 Nov. 2010.

Hallman, Mara, Anna Dienhart, and John Beaton. "A Qualitative Analysis of Fathers' Experiences of Parental Time after Separation and Divorce." Fathering: A Journal of Theory, Research, & Practice about Men as Fathers 5.1 (2007): 4-24. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 10 Nov. 2010.

Harper, Scott E., and Mark A. Fine. "The Effects of Involved Nonresidential Fathers' Distress, Parenting Behaviors, Inter-Parental Conflict, and the Quality of Father-Child Relationships on Children's Well-Being." Fathering: A Journal of Theory, Research, & Practice about Men as Fathers 4.3 (2006): 286-311. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 10 Nov. 2010.


"Non-Resident Fathers' Engagement with their Children: The Salience of Leisure." Australian Journal of Social Issues 41.2 (2006): 183-193. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 11 Nov. 2010.

Pearson, Keagan. "Fathers Are Important to the Development and Well-being of Their Children." Associated Content. 21 Nov. 2009. Web. 24 Nov. 2010.