YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Studies show 71% of kids who drop out of school are fatherless, and 85% of incarcerated youth don’t have their fathers in their lives.
The effects of growing up without a father can range from a higher rate of drug and alcohol use to sexual abuse and emotional disconnect.
WKBN Digital Reporter Jennifer Rodriguez spoke with 13-year-old K’Vaughn Royal, 17-year-old Shimariel Brown and 20-year-old Skyla McArthur. They each spoke about the effects they have faced from having strained relationships with their fathers.
“How often would you say that you guys talk?” Rodriguez asked.
“Not that often,” Royal said.
Royal’s dad lives in another state. The distance between them sometimes makes it hard for him to have a closer relationship with his dad, although he says he loves his dad very much.
“I call him… and then he’ll call me sometimes,” he said.
Royal’s mom, Jesica Farrier, said he does get to visit his father, but she feels a closer distance would make a big difference.
“I would probably go to his house mostly every day,” Royal said.
“He’s still gonna love him no matter what he say or do,” Farrier said.
A 2012 Census study showed that out of 24,445 homes studied, 10,322 did not have a father in the house.
According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, 43% of students living with both their parents get mostly A’s compared to 29% in mother-only families.
Brown is a senior in high school. She is doing well with her own business of cosmetic lines at just 17, but says not having her father in her life has affected her deeply.
“This is like my first memory of him really, I don’t know, I was like seven or eight and my mom had drove me to Wooster where he lives, and it just felt like meeting a stranger,” she said.
Brown says she never had a consistent relationship with her dad. He would pop in and out throughout the years, but it always left her with a feeling of rejection.
“It just feels like, unwanted kind of, like I just feel like, I don’t know what I did wrong, but he just don’t wanna be here” she said.
Brown said she always saw other kids with their fathers and it showed her what she was missing out on.
“I see how other people’s father was involved in their lives, so I’m like OK, I know how it’s supposed to be… You know, over time it’s like OK, well, he should be here for this, important events or when I’m going through something, he should be here,” she said.
According to Psychology Today, women who grow up without fathers are more likely to encounter unhealthy relationships with men and are more likely to face teen pregnancy.
“I mean me personally, I feel like I can’t never love a man,” McArthur said.
McArthur says she has a strained relationship with her father. Although he has been in her life, the relationship between the two has not always been a good one.
“I was always a daddy’s girls, so when I was first born it was just like, me and daddy,” she said.
But, at four years old he left the home and that’s when things changed for McArthur.
“We did visitations like Wednesday through Friday. It just wouldn’t work ’cause I want my dad like 24/7,” she said.
McArthur said not having her father in the home led to her acting out with her mother.
“It’s like, you got mommy and daddy here, then you gone. It’s just mommy, mommy trying to raise you on your own, you give mommy a hard time,” she said. “It’s affect in so many ways, mentally, physically, emotionally. Like, it don’t matter how old I grow, I’m still going to have that pain in my heart.”
Despite the strained relationship, McArthur says she loves her father and is attempting to mend the broken relationship.
“I do love him more than anything in the world, but I just feel like I would never have the type of love how I wanted from my dad,” she said.
Children with absent fathers are more likely to experience mental health issues, physical, emotional and sexual abuse and homelessness.
“When you see all of the societal problems, and the likelihood, it traces back to fatherlessness,” said Youngstown City Council President DeMaine Kitchen.
Kitchen, along with Guy Burney of C.I.R.V., is relaunching a fatherhood initiative called “Life to Life.”
“Fatherlessness is a problem and if we can get fathers and men I would say to take ownership, to take responsibility, process the pain that they went through as kids so that they’re not repeating those painful cycles in their kids’ lives. A lot of people just don’t know what to do,” Kitchen said.
The purpose of the program is to help get young men active in the lives of their children.
“Every kid should have their dad 100% in their life,” McArthur said.
“Just having two people that are there for you no matter what, even if it’s not in the same household. It just, you know, it would be nice to have that,” Brown said.
The Life to Life program will be relaunched this year. WKBN will follow the progress of the program.