Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry
A study of 105 fatherless children from clinics at the University of Florida Children's Mental Health Unit categorized fatherless household lifestyles according to the length of paternal absence. Two groups emerged: (1) the transitional fatherless children, those without fathers for 2 years or less, and (2) the hard-core fatherless children, living with the mother for more than 2 years in paternal absence. A comparison group of 53 children from (3) intact families showed that 15 had experienced some period of fatherlessness establishing a 4th group, (4) historical. It appeared in most cases that father absence was no more singular than economic class in its influence upon the nature and severity of a fatherless child's problems. Diagnoses of behavior disorders of childhood and adolescence or transient situational disturbances represent 50 percent of the child population seen but account for nearly 75 percent of the diagnoses in the fathered group. The fatherless group had a wider variety of diagnoses. Neuroses were more common in the fatherless group, particularly within the transitional group (1). Psychosis and retardation claimed a notably greater proportion of the hard-core group. Nevertheless fatherlessness is not a crucial modifier of either the household or the individual psyche, as the majority of child psychiatry patients come from intact families. Study group characteristics, the mother's emotional world (including maternal attitudes and mother--child relationship), and the child's perspective are discussed and illustrated by case reports. Demographic factors and diagnoses are presented in statistics. 7 references.
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