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Paternal negligence has always been a significant social problem, which has negatively influenced the lives of millions of people. Nowadays, sociologists and psychologists attempt to research the roots of father’s negligence. In general, the researchers emphasize the key reason of fathers’ carelessness regarding their children – maturity level of young fathers. This paper is aimed to provide thoughtful analysis of this suggestion, weighing arguments for and against.
It is necessary to mention that the fathers, who abandon their children, are usually young. Teen parents do not realize that enjoying relationships with their loved ones may result in pregnancy and parenthood. According to Kimball, most researchers of fatherhood are focused on adult men, while teen fathers are frequently neglected by policy makers and practitioners. (Kimball, p. 3, 2004). Wel et al found out that longitudinal studies, which were focused on urban youth, confirm high rates of teen fatherhood that ranged from 12% to 28% (2002). Fatherhood cannot be considered a spontaneous phenomenon, which means that young men have time to get ready for their parenthood. Essentially, social and personal contexts considerably influence the process of men’s self-identification as fathers. It is the issue of men’s maturity, as sexually active young men do not care about contraception and do not know what should be done in case pregnancy occurs. Additional factors, which confirm teen fathers’ immaturity, are low academic performance, early school dropout, low family income, antisocial behavior, deviant peer association and high arrest rates. Men, who were brought up in low-income families, in which parents did not pay much attention to children, do not know the basics of appropriate children care. The individuals, who were arrested in childhood, do not perceive the norms of pedagogics and psychology that insist on the necessity of fathers’ involvement in the lives of their children. However, it is worth mentioning that age of fathers does not significantly influence their relationships with children, while maturity level does. Teen fathers may be more mature than adult fathers, as maturity depends on intelligence and awareness. Teen fathers may be more engaged in their children’s problems, being ready to take care of their children both psychologically and financially. Mature person can value fatherhood and behave appropriately instead of denying his connection with certain child. Adult men are not always able to support their families, as they do not realize their responsibilities and rights regarding the child. Mature men are those who can consciously evaluate the fact of their parenthood and change their behaviors in accordance with the children’s needs. Psychologically unstable and immature men are usually running from duties towards their offspring and do not want to support their children and mothers of these children. Therefore, in order to increase the level of men’s maturity, policy makers should take into account the necessity of adjusting their psychological wellbeing.
Maturity level is the most important reason of paternal negligence because immature men are not able to transform internal worriment and external pressure put on them into cheerful fatherhood. Maturity depends on personal characteristics, but it is wrong to underestimate social and cultural influences on modern man. When little boy is growing up, he is taught to protect and support his family. Men are also taught to be reliable, calm, strong and self-confident. Later, family members and society start to impose on young men a variety of stereotypes and prejudices. Man, whose duty is to support his family financially, and who fails to earn enough money is usually depressed. If the men fail to bring money, they suffer from the complex of inferiority and impotence. Some men are mature enough to handle this pressure and to create a family with children. Nevertheless, some men, who feel this pressure, are emotionally and intellectually weak to resist psychological forces. Interaction of psychological and social factors create a challenge for young fathers who do not want to raise their children or who want, but have no idea how to do it well. Stelle and Sheehan studied paternal maturity and its impact on fatherhood. They divided maturity of fathers into two levels: affective and cognitive. The findings demonstrated that “the affective side of maturity (generativity) is more strongly associated with fathers' accounts of the costs and rewards than the cognitive side of maturity (ego development)” (p. 45, 2011). Thus, fathers’ personal assumptions concerning costs and rewards of fatherhood influence their maturity level and predict their relationship with children.
While some people agree that fathers’ maturity is the main reason of paternal negligence, other researchers argue this suggestion. One of the most serious counterarguments to maturity is the importance of fathers’ financial wellbeing. Low-income young men refuse to bring up and support their children because either it is too costly for them, or because they are not able to provide enough financial support. Fathers, who perform negligent attitude towards their children, usually come from low-income environment. Negligent fathers, who do not care about their children, are engaged in drinking, drugs and crimes. Low-income young fathers do not have enough money to get education and, consequently, well-paid job. These fathers are indifferent regarding destiny of their children, as they do not want to form any relationships with them. Some fathers simply do not want to bear responsibility for their children, especially their financial wellbeing. When the child is born, mothers cannot work since they have to feed and to care about their newborn children. Taking into account contemporary prices for children’s food, clothes, and toys, it is quite difficult to pay the bills. Fathers frequently work hard in order to provide their families with necessary things, and some fathers do not want to take much effort in order to support their children.
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