The Effects Absent Fathers Have on Female Development and College Attendance

By Krohn, Franklin B.; Bogan, Zoe | College Student Journal, December 2001 | Go to article overview

The Effects Absent Fathers Have on Female Development and College Attendance


Krohn, Franklin B., Bogan, Zoe, College Student Journal


This paper examined the effects absent fathers have on their daughters' development and college attendance. The academic limitations females endure as a result of not having a present father figure are examined.

The paper discusses a father's departure, which is a key factor since it reveals the different behavioral dimensions of fatherless daughters. There are distinct differences between the behavior of females who lost their fathers to death rather than those who lost him to separation or divorce. The ways in which they view the opposite sex, the outside world and themselves are forever tainted as a result of missing the key element of a father.

This report concludes by providing examples of what internal factors can be used to replenish some of the nurturing that was lost when fathers depart.

Introduction

This paper examines the effects absent fathers have on their daughters' development and their college attendance. Researchers agree the females who lack father figures are more prone to experience diminished cognitive development and poor school performance (Grimm-Wassil, 1994, p. 149). Children who experience early father absence inevitably have weaker mathematical than verbal skills and usually find it difficult to adjust well with others although fatherlessness alone does not cause poor adjustment (Adams, Milner and Schrepf, 1984, p. 140).

Before analyzing female college attendance, it is imperative to examine the elementary and secondary academic performance of young girls. This information shows how fathers affect female educational development and his importance as they progress academically. Father absence affects how children perform on achievement tests and IQ tests inevitably shaping their academic college career (Grimm-Wassil, 1994).

Absent fathers are defined as those who do not interact with their children on a regular basis and consequently do not play a significant role in their development. Divorce, death and abandonment are all forms of absence but nevertheless affect female development differently. The age at which a daughter loses her father is meaningful since it influences her perception of males, the world as well as her academic advancement. Fathers play a significant role in female achievement in mathematics (Adams, Milner and Schrepf 1984, p. 128). Mathematics is typically associated with masculinity therefore females without father figures may have less interest in this subject matter. Female high school seniors were more likely than their male peers to say they did not take mathematics and science courses because they disliked the subject matter (35% and 22%) and had been advised against taking these courses (32% and 26% respectively) (Bae, 1997). Essentially females are discouraged from pursuing a career in mathematics and father absence contributes to this phenomenon by not providing them with a male role model to stimulate their interest in this area.

Security regarding females and their fathers is a key element since it greatly shapes their development (Griffin, 1998). Women without father figures lack a sense of protection and as a result may become discouraged. Examples of this phenomenon are teenage pregnancy, dropping out of college, never attempting college and low self esteem (Griffin, 1998, p. 21). Although fatherless females may encounter limitations as a result of their missing fathers, it is not impossible for them to succeed.

Stability is another important aspect affecting the lives of females, which inevitably shape their college careers. Fathers' absence not only hinders their ability to make sound decisions, it also triggers negative reactions as opposed to positive ones (Griffin, 1998, p.26). Daughters obtain secure foundations knowing what their fathers believe in and stand for (Griffin, 1998, p. 27). A confident base enables females to be successful in their endeavors and accomplish what they attempt. …

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