Originally published in Christian Concern
A major study has confirmed that the absence of a father figure can be damaging to a child’s life, and that the love of a father is equally important to the emotional well-being of children as that of a mother.
The study, which reviewed 36 studies from around the world, found that the absence of fatherly love in a child’s life can have serious psychological consequences which persist into adulthood, since rejection in childhood has the most “strong and consistent effect on personality and development”.
The study suggests that rejection from a father can cause long-term problems for children that last for decades, including anxiety, insecurity and low self-esteem.
The study found that such children tend to shut themselves off emotionally, and consequently find it harder to build relationships later in life.
Professor Ronald Rohner, who conducted the review, stated:
“In the US, Great Britain and Europe, we have assumed for the past 300 years that all children need for normal healthy development is a loving relationship with their mother.
“And that dads are there as support for the mother and to support the family financially but are not required for the healthy development of the children.
“But that belief is fundamentally wrong. We have to start getting away from that idea and realise the dad’s influence is as great, and sometimes greater, than the mother’s.”
Norman Wells, of the Family Education Trust, said: “This study underlines the importance of intact and stable families where both the father and the mother are committed to bringing up their children together.
“Successive governments have failed to recognise the fact that men and women are different and that they parent differently.”
He also criticised Government ministers for “pretending that one parent is as good as two, or that two parents of the same sex are as good as two natural parents of the opposite sex.”
Andrea Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, said:
“Professor Rohner’s study confirms what has been known for decades – that two natural parents in a life-long marriage provide the ideal conditions for raising children. No other family arrangement, including same-sex households, can offer the same benefits. Public policy should reflect this.”