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Kiersten Slade English 2010 Saturdays 11:30 a.m. - 2:20 p.m.

When Hes There Each night I come home from work and throw my bag in my room. I hang up my keys, take off my heels, and find my sister to get her ready for dance. My dad comes home at 5:30, and we clean the house specifically at 5:00. Hes the clean freak of the family so we try to keep it nice. I started thinking, what would my house be like if I didnt have my dad? Several people dont have dads; what are their lives like compared to mine? Do they have a harder time with things because hes not there? What influence does my dad have in my life that I dont realize? A dad is one of the biggest teachers in a childs life. Hes by their side and teaches them the ropes. According to fatherhood.gov, in 2012 there were 70.1 million fathers in the United States, 1.96 million were single fathers, and 16% of custodial single parents were men. A fathers involvement is crucial to children and their development, whether its physical, emotional, or mental. There have been several studies based off a fathers relationship to the childs weight. In an Australian national population study researched in 2007, they found that only a fathers parenting method increased the childs risk of being overweight. If the dad was more active, the childs BMI reflected that. If he wasnt, the childs BMI reflected that as well. The mothers parenting techniques didnt affect the childs BMI at all. I found this information to be quite interesting. Girls can be just as athletic and active as guys, but the male had a more influential

impact on the child. Another study done by Davison and Birch at Pennsylvania State University, found that a daughters BMI could be predicted by the fathers diet and activity level. When the fathers BMI rose, so did the daughters. The father/daughter study was very fascinating. My dad puts high importance on his physical health and Ive noticed Ive picked up on that characteristic too. Children born to single mothers have more aggressive behavior than children born to married mothers according to a study done by Osborne and McLanahan in 2007. Ive noticed my sister is not as well behaved when my dad isnt there. She likes to whine and stomp her feet when my mom tells her to do something. Once my dad comes into the room, she shapes up and its like her tantrum never happened. As many have predicted and tested, adolescents without a fatherhood figure or influence are more likely to commit a crime and end up incarcerated, than those that do have a fatherhood figure. There are two studies that have gone a little deeper that had some very interesting statistics. In 2002, the Department of Justice surveyed 7,000 inmates. The survey revealed that 39% of inmates were from mother-only households. 46% of inmates had a formerly incarcerated family member and about 1/5th had had a father serve time. Knoester and Hayne studied the risk of violence in neighborhoods in 2005. They found that if there are fewer fathers in a neighborhood, the more crime there will be. The more fathers there are, the less crime there was. Lets be honest, most of our dads would beat the crap out of us if we committed a crime. I dont want that wrath so I dont commit crimes. I do my best to stay out of trouble. The government has spent thousands of dollars endorsing commercials to encourage parents to discuss underage drinking and drug use with their children. When clear rules are set, it

helps the child understand what is expected of them. John P. Hoffman found that children who dont live with their mom and dad have a higher use of drugs. Its understandable because theres a greater chance of the child being left alone and being able to experiment. Another study was done with African American teens. They found that girls used drugs for social purposes and boys used drugs due to a lack of father figure. I thought it was interesting that the girls only used the drugs when they were around friends, and that their relationship with their fathers didnt affect their drug usage at all. My dad is constantly encouraging my siblings and me to do well in our education. Hes a school teacher himself, so he can tell when we really are giving it our best or when were making excuses. A study done by Nord and West found that the more involved a father is in a childs schooling, the higher the likelihood that the student will get As. It didnt matter if it was the childs biological dad, step dad, or a single dad. I found this study appealing because this was the first one where it didnt matter what the relation of the father was to the child, just as long as there was a father figure present and encouraging the child, the child was more likely to succeed. I dont think any of us realize how much of an impact our dads have in our lives. When I think about it, hes just my dad. Hes the guy I joke around with, he races me on the treadmill, he complains that my showers are too long, and he tells me to go to bed and turn the lights off if its past 11 oclock. To me hes just being my dad. What I dont realize is how great of a dad he really is. He listens to me talk for hours. I know he doesnt want to know every detail, but he listens and is genuinely interested. When I come home from the store, he mutes the T.V. and watches as I show him what I got and how much of a deal I ended up buying it for. On Sundays he makes sure Im out of bed in order to get to church on time. Im a nursery leader and I get to play with the little kids for 2 hours. He knows how much I love it and doesnt want me to miss it.

He gets mad at me when Im running late for work in the mornings. I get annoyed because I already know Im late and I dont need him to tell me. Hes being a good dad and teaching me the importance of being punctual. Hes teaching me that its important to work hard at what I do, to put in every effort I have to make it great, and to respect my employer by being on time and showing up ready to work. If Im going on a date and my outfit is less than he is comfortable with, he sends me right back to my room to change. I know Im not allowed to leave until he uncrosses his arms. Its a small sign of approval, but I know exactly when Ive gotten it. It has taught me the importance of respecting myself and my body. When I am going out on a Friday night with friends, he always gives me that look that says, Kiersten. Be smart. Dont do anything stupid. Ive seen that look for 20 years. I know what he means. I roll my eyes and walk out the door. What he doesnt know is that I always find myself smiling after I shut my car door; I think its sweet that my dad still cares after all these years. He knows Im older and he doesnt have as big of a say as he used to. He cant choose who I hang out with or what I do, but he can make sure that I still have a good head on my shoulders and am striving to be the best I can be.

Works Sited Page


National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse. National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, n.d. Web.14 Feb. 2014. Wake, M., Nicholson, J.M., Hardy, P., & Smith, K. (2007). Preschooler obesity and parenting styles of mothers of mothers and fathers: Australian national population study, Pediatrics, 12, 1520-1527. Davison KK, Birch LL. Child and parent characteristics as predictors of change in girls body mass index. Department of Human Development and Family Studies, The Pennsylvania State University Osborne, C., & McLanahan, S. (2007). Partnership instability and child well-being. Journal of Marriage and Family, 69, 1065-1083 James, Doris J. Profile of Jail Inmates, 2002. (NCJ201932) Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report, Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, July 2004. Knoester, C., & Hayne, D. A. (2005). Community context, social integration into family, and youth violence. Journal of Marriage and Family, 67, 767-780. Hoffman, John P. The Community Context of Family Structure and Adolescent Drug Use. Journal of Marriage and Family 64 (May 2002): 314-330. Mandara, J., & Murray, C. B. (2006). Fathers absence and African American adolescent drug use. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 46, 1-12 Nord, Christine Winquist, and Jerry West. Fathers and Mothers Involvement in Their Childrens Schools by Family Type and Resident Status. (NCES 2001-032). Washington, D. C.: U. S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2001.