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Father Absenteeism and Child Development

The development of people’s ability to form intimate, as well as parent-child, relationships occurs at different stages of their lives. It has been acknowledged that the basis of this capability is formed during the early stages of human development, but it is also shaped throughout the person’s life (Makusha, Richter, Knight, Van Rooyen, & Bhana, 2013). Father absenteeism has been regarded as one of the major factors affecting the child’s further development especially regarding sexual behavior and intimate relationships. Importantly, females often have different views on child-rearing, which can be a result of their own childhood experiences (Makusha et al., 2013). At that, their relationships with their intimate partners also shape the way they see child-rearing or the way they actually behave with their children (Wallerstein, Lewis, & Packer Rosenthal, 2013). Therefore, it is possible to note that attachment patterns are affected by a variety of factors throughout different stages of individuals’ development.

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This topic has significant value for the field of General Psychology. The stages of human development are the areas of exploration of General Psychologists. Researchers try to identify various internal and external factors affecting people’s development throughout their life. Father absenteeism is one of these factors. Pougnet, Serbin, Stack, Ledingham, and Schwartzman (2012) define father absenteeism as the absence of the father (any man performing the role of the father) that is the result of separation, divorce, short-term intimate relationship as well as death. Clearly, childhood experiences have a considerable impact on the way people form attachments. Hence, it is necessary to deepen the understanding of females’ opinions concerning their intimate relationships and their relationships with their children (hypothetical or actual) as well as their childhood without the father figure. The field of General Psychology will be enriched since new insights into the development of attachments during females’ adulthood will be provided.

It is noteworthy that the issues associated with the outcomes of the absent father have received a lot of attention. Some researchers stress that the absent father is the reoccurring problem in disadvantaged communities and women often repeat their mothers’ destiny (Pougnet et al., 2012). However, some claim that father absenteeism often has different outcomes. For instance, some females become unable to develop effective intimate relationships while others try to create families no matter what and be a model mother for their children (Makusha et al., 2013). Wallerstein et al. (2013) examine the way adult women go through their divorce experiences, and the role their children play in this process. The focus is often on the relationships between mothers and daughters (Wallerstein et al., 2013). It is clear that when analyzing father absenteeism, researchers tend to focus on such aspects as females’ sexual development, their ability to develop intimate relationships, and their relationships with their children.

Nonetheless, there is a specific gap in the literature when it comes to the link between these spheres. An important area to explore (and the research problem of this study) is the way adult females develop their intimate relationships and their opinions on child-rearing as well as their views on some effects of their childhood experiences. It is possible to compare some perspectives of women who have or do not have children, who are married or divorced to understand whether their views differ. This understanding can help identify the particular link between the formation of attachments at earlier stages of human development and during their adulthood.


Makusha, T., Richter, L., Knight, L., Van Rooyen, H., & Bhana, D. (2013). “The good and the bad?” Childhood experiences with fathers and their influence on women’s expectations and men’s experiences of fathering in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Fathering: A Journal of Theory, Research, and Practice About Men as Fathers, 11(2), 138-158.

Pougnet, E., Serbin, L.A., Stack, D.M., Ledingham, J.E., & Schwartzman, A.E. (2012). The intergenerational continuity of fathers’ absence in a socioeconomically disadvantaged sample. Journal of Marriage and Family, 74(3), 540-555.

Wallerstein, J., Lewis, J., & Packer Rosenthal, S. (2013). Mothers and their children after divorce: Report from a 25-year longitudinal study. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 30(2), 167-184.

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