Having a child out of wedlock, although quite common, still remains a taboo. More often than not, the mothers are left to raise their children on their own, with some fathers going scot-free. While there are many reasons why the parents may have gone their separate ways, the role of a father in a child’s life remains important.
“Human beings are social, emotional and intellectual beings,” says Rubie Miseda, a psychologist and founder of Jipende Wellness. “During the stages of our childhood our behaviour is modelled by the parents or guardians that are around us. Our sense of normality on how to interact with both males and females stems from a mother and a father.”
“Reams of social science and medical research convincingly show that children who are raised by their married, biological parents enjoy better physical, cognitive and emotional outcomes, on average, than children raised in other circumstances,” wrote David Ribar in a report by Princeton University and the Brookings Institute.
While it may not always be possible for a child to be raised by both parents, the father’s presence is absolutely necessary. Research by scholars from Princeton, Cornell and UC Berkeley explained that there is strong evidence that a father’s absence negatively affects children’s social-emotional development and these affects stretch into later adolescence and beyond.
In a letter published by Standard Digital, Helen, who was brought up by a single mother, wrote about her struggle to find her father: “In those early years and with mum around, I never thought much about you either, but when she passed on in 1996, and many issues came up, I started asking around about you.”
Helen writes that she has followed many leads, each promising to get her closer to her father, but they have all been dead ends. Those close to her keep asking her why she persists in looking for her father who seemingly doesn’t want to be found but she remains persistent in her search.
It is difficult to comprehend why someone would torture themselves looking for their absentee fathers, especially in cases where the father has openly expressed disinterest in their child.
Miseda explains, “When a child is searching for a father they are looking to understand how to emotionally and socially interact with the figures society considers the protector and provider. This interaction will therefore influence their social perception on how to form relationships with other people, whether in school, home, work or in their love lives.”