Research: 1-in-4 U.S. Children Live in Fatherless Homes, Spurring Mental Health and Behavioral Issues

WHEAT RIDGE, CO - FEBRUARY 26 : From left, Whitney Nichols, 39, plays a card game with her children Cambria Nichols- Dewey, 12, and Ember Nichols- Dewey, 14, at their home in Wheat Ridge, Colorado on Friday, February 26, 2021. Whitney is single mother of three who has been self-employed, struggling in the pandemic. In 2020 her total income was $17,000 and she is on housing assistance and food stamps. If her rent is one day late she has a 20 percent fee - and the rent is $2,100 a month. (Photo by Hyoung Chang/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

About one in four children in the United States are living in fatherless homes, making them far more likely to suffer from mental health and behavioral issues, research details.

An issue brief published by the America First Policy Institute (AFPI) finds clear correlations between children raised in fatherless homes and developmental challenges such as anger problems, violent tendencies, and overall lower educational scores.

U.S. Census Bureau data shows that as of 2022, more than 18 million children across the nation live in fatherless homes — indicating that about one in four children do not have a father figure in their household.

The AFPI brief details the impact fatherless homes have on the well-being of children, specifically their mental health and behavioral development:

The effects of broken families have been staggering. Children from fatherless homes fare far worse in overall well-being and mental and behavioral health. These children are often burdened with lower self-esteem than other children, and they do not understand why their fathers abandoned them. This leads to a number of emotional problems like anxiety, social withdrawal, and depression, and it also leads to an increased risk of suicide and other forms of self-harm. Some data suggests that 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes, and 85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders are from fatherless homes. [Emphasis added]

Some data also suggest that children without fathers are also 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances, and 71% of all children who abuse substances come from fatherless homes. Another study found that 75% of adolescent patients in substance abuse centers are from fatherless homes. [Emphasis added]

In terms of determining future criminal behavior, the AFPI brief shows a strong connection between the incarcerated juvenile population and fatherlessness.

“In a study of 75 juvenile delinquents, 66% experienced fatherlessness, 20% had never lived with their father, and 25% had an alcoholic father,” the brief states. “… in one study, 70% of youth in state-operated facilities were from sing-parent homes.”

Overall, one study noted by AFPI found that children from fatherless homes are 20 times more likely to be incarcerated than those who are raised with fathers in their life. A different study has found that children who have a close relationship with their fathers are 80 percent less likely to ever be imprisoned for a crime.

A child’s educational scores also depend heavily on whether they have a father figure in their household, the AFPI brief suggests:

Children with an actively engaged father perform much better in school. Some data shows that they are 33% less likely to repeat a class and 43% more likely to get A’s in school. [Emphasis added]

A study by the National Center for Education Statistics concluded that “ten percent of students living with both their parents have ever repeated a grade compared to 20% living in stepfather families, 17% in stepmother families, 18% in mother-only families, 16% in father-only families, and 21% living with neither parent.” [Emphasis added]

A number of Republican lawmakers have sought to pass family formation legislation, specifically Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), in an effort to use the federal government’s resources to aid Americans looking to create families.

“Never in my lifetime has it been harder to be a mom or a dad,” Rubio wrote this year. “Laws in our country should work to chart a new course and help parents balance child-rearing, work, and other priorities throughout day-to-day life.”

John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Email him at Follow him on Twitter here.


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