June 15, 2023

Understanding the Fatherlessness Phenomenon

Father and daughter

“My life before coming to A Father’s Way seemed to be at a standstill,” said Kevin, a single father from Rock Hill. Kevin was juggling two jobs and his driver’s license was suspended. But his main goal was to find a way to see his daughter more. When a relative referred him to A Father’s Way in Rock Hill, an organization that helps dads connect with their children, he contacted them immediately. After a consultation with Mr. Molcary Robinson, an intervention specialist at A Father’s Way, Kevin started the program right away.

As many families celebrate Father’s Day this weekend, we are faced with the harsh reality that there are millions of children in the U.S. without a father in their home.

According to recent studies, approximately 1 in 4 children in the U.S. live without a father at home – nearly 20 million children. Sadly, the U.S. leads the world in single-parent homes (23%), compared to only 7% on average in the rest of the world. Most of these single-parent homes are father-absent homes.

When fathers are absent, children suffer the most. This fatherlessness phenomenon impacts children at every level, including school drop-out rates, addictions, debilitating mental health issues, homelessness, and even prison or suicide. Most youth in prison come from fatherless homes (85%), which demonstrates the vital need for fathers to be engaged with their children in the home.

Single-parent families in South Carolina comprise 41% of households in the state, the second largest in the country. Studies confirm there is a strong correlation between the prevalence of fatherlessness and median household income. Of the 10 South Carolina counties with the highest percent of fatherless homes, eight of them also have the lowest average income.

Statistics like these show the need to provide support for fathers across the state of South Carolina. Kevin found hope at A Father’s Way.

“There was never a time during the program when a problem arose and we didn’t identify a solution,” said Kevin.

After going through the program, Kevin relocated back to his home city, started two jobs, and got his daughter back. “From dealing with court issues to getting my license reinstated, I was extremely impressed with the program and the effort of the staff to help me get my children back.” When asked what advice he would give to other fathers, Kevin said, “Don’t miss out on a once-in-a-lifetime support system. Take the leap and get back to your child who needs you. The only thing that can hold you back is the man in the mirror.”

A Father’s Way is one of six statewide organizations which, through partnership with the South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families, provides assistance to fathers in need. The Center and its local fatherhood programs connect fathers to resources and opportunities to build the skills they need to be responsible and engaged. Through education and advocacy, the Center shines a light on the vital role of fathers in the lives of their families and shows that preventing fatherlessness is an essential step toward creating stronger families, stronger communities, and a stronger South Carolina.

(Writer Macy Gault is a legal intern at the South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families.)


1. Fatherlessness and Its Effects on American Society, America First Policy Institute
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