The Effects of Father Absence Due to Divorce: A Systems Interpretation.

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Graduate School of Professional Psychology: Doctoral Papers and Masters Projects

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Akse, Kirsten
Digital Commons @ DU
Father-absent families; Children of divorce parents; Sex role development; Psychology
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In American society, the incidence of divorce continues to rise. In 1974, the estimate was that 40% of all new marriages would end in divorce. When children are involved, the mother usually regains custody. Although the number of children of divorce living with their fathers is increasing, it is still a small percent. In addition, the rate of remarriages is lower when children are involved ( al.,1977). Consequently, a large number of children are being raised in father-absent homes, and indications are that the numbers are increasing. A recent Denver Post article predicted that 50% of all children now being born will spend some of their childhood in a single-parent home. In terms of frequency, the father-absent family is becoming quite common, even "normal," yet it often continues to be considered a "broken" home and, when compared to the two-parent family, an inadequate structure in which to raise healthy children. Since father-absent families are so common these days, this opinion is in need of review.This paper will present a review of the father absence research in three areas: sex role development, cognitive development and personality development. The role of moderator variables will be discussed. And, finally,an open systems model will be proposed as a vehicle to better understand the effects of father absence and as a guide for future research.