How Do Absent Dads Affect Children?

By Jerry Askin Mayor-elect Andy Berke is holding his second public forum Thursday, this time on youth development and education.We’re digging deeper into how the home life of a child plays into the road they choose, especially those kids who grow up without a father in their lives.David Cosby is only 12-years-old and wants to be a pro football player. He’s in the YMCA’s YCAP program, and says life without his father has been rough.I hope my father realizes that I need him in my life, sometimes my mom can’t do it all by herself, says Cosby.According to research done by the Ochs Center in Chattanooga, kids in gangs are more likely to come from single-parent households. Those households make up a third of all of them in Hamilton County. It’s why many kids are choosing positive choices every day after school, like joining the YCAP Program.Julie Baumgardner knows all to well what it’s like for children who grow up in single parent homes.They’re more likely to live in poverty, they’re more likely to drop out of school, end up in jail due to criminal history. They’re more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems, says Baumgardener.She works on the city’s gang task force committee. She also is the executive director of First Things First, an organization aimed at helping families. She points out one key program they have for fathers. Boot Camp for New Dads is specifically a program for fathers, to help them understand how important it is for them to bond with their children, says Baumgardner.She says fathers bring something much different from mothers, something children need in their lives. When children don’t have that, they have a whole in their heart, the size of their father and they go searching for that for the rest of their lives, says Baumgardner.For 13-year old Brandon Haney, he simply wants his father around. It doesn’t feel the same without him, it’s not comfortable or anything, says Haney.

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