Here’s the “but”…
Fatherhood and Justice
How did your father influence your life’s path? My father taught me that I could think for myself and solve problems if I tried. He expected me to achieve.
Fathers matter to their children. In fact, research says that father-child relationships influence children as much as mother-child relationships. Fathers influence their children in different ways than mothers. Babies who interact with their fathers tend to acquire language skills more readily. Children whose fathers spend time with them do better in school, have more self-control, and are more ambitious and willing to embrace risk. Teens who feel close to their fathers start having sex later.
Fathers are more involved with their children than ever before. The roles of mothers and fathers are converging. Most families with children have two incomes and share in the care of their children. And more fathers provide the primary care of their children.
The research says that African-American fathers are more likely to physically care for their children and prepare meals for them than other fathers. Most nonresident fathers maintain contact with their children, and many are involved with their children’s daily activities. Nonresident fathers who have jobs are more likely to be involved with their children. An equal number of moms and dads say that parenting is rewarding and central to their identity.
So what happens when a father is incarcerated? Emerging research finds that when fathers are sent to jail or prison, their children pay the price. And this is particularly true of sons. Sons of incarcerated fathers show more aggressive behavior and attention problems. Children of incarcerated fathers have more contact with the child welfare system.
The negative impact of incarceration on child well-being goes beyond parental separation of other kinds. Incarceration adds a barrier to employment and diminishes earnings potential. Incarceration can reduce a father’s ability to work, earn, and pay child support after release. Incarceration also negatively impacts the relationship between the parents. It can break up families. When a father or mother goes to prison, a child’s path is changed forever.
In recognition of Father’s Day and the fifth anniversary of Turner vs. Rodgers , the June 2016 Child Support Report (CSR) provides information on fatherhood program resources in the child support community. We also feature stories on procedural justice because this can be critically important when a child support office is determining a parent’s ability to make payments. In the June edition, you’ll also learn more about customer service at the federal level and how the child support program helps parents and state agencies.
We work in child support to help kids. Let’s put the needs of children first in our daily case decisions.