What’s the Link Between School Shootings and Father-Son Relationships?

The signs are in bullying incidents and low self-esteem. In increasing rates of teenage suicide. And in the disturbingly frequent school shootings. These “red flags” call attention to one aspect of parenting getting too little attention. The relationship between fathers and sons.

The impact of fathers on the well-being and behavior of their children has been well documented. The dangerous and extreme results of boys growing up without a positive bond with their fathers are obvious. Those results are school shootings, bullying incidents, and increased rates of teenage suicide.

The impact and extreme results of being dad deprived is the subject of The Boy Crisis by Warren Farrell, Ph. D. He is the Chair of the Commission to Create a White House Council on Boys and Men. The price society pays for a generation of boys without a father can be seen in many ways.

“We are paying the price in increased taxes,” says Farrell, "and these costs are reflected in welfare, incarceration, and unemployment." The extreme results of absent fathers are boys who join terrorist cells or become the perpetrators of school shootings.

What The Studies Reveal

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The Importance of Fathers in the Healthy Development of Children is a report by the U.S. Department of Human Services. “Children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure," according to the 2006 report. "They are confident to explore their surroundings, and as they grow older, have better social connections with peers."

The Importance of Fathers in the Healthy Development of Children features a few prominent psychologists. "Fathers are far more than just 'second adults' in the home," says David Popenoe, Ph.D. "Involved fathers bring positive benefits to their children that no other person is as likely to bring."

Two other important studies bolster the positive findings of children who live with their fathers. The Relationship between Family Structure and Adolescent Substance Abuse was published in 1996. Father Absence and Youth Incarceration was published in 1998. Both link good physical and emotional health, academic achievement, avoiding drugs, violence, and delinquent behavior to an involved father.

What Makes Dad Indispensable?

Outspoken women from the entertainment industry to the corporate world during the past few generations have become influential. Their success has been a catalyst for a shift in conventional parenting roles. As a result, more women are having children outside of marriage and adequately fill the role of breadwinner. Dads seem to be dispensable.

Many dynamic women are no longer settling on a man just to have a child. This shift in parenting roles has caused some scholars and writers to grapple with an important question. Are dads really dispensable?

"This view overlooks a growing body of research,” says W. Bradford Wilcox, Ph.D., author of Gender and Parenthood: Biological and Social Scientific Perspectives. "Men bring much more to the parenting enterprise than money, especially today," says Wilcox.

Mr. Wilcox also writes for The Atlantic, an influential magazine publishing for over one hundred years. He wrote about child rearing in The Distinct, Positive Impact of a Good Dad - How Fathers Contribute to their Kids’ Lives. "Fathers are more likely to encourage their children to take risks, embrace challenges, and be independent," says Wilcox. "Whereas mothers are more likely to focus on their children’s safety and emotional well being.”

Safety and emotional well-being are critical for helping a child feel secure and self-confident. Taking risks, embracing challenges, and being independent must be modeled and nurtured to foster a prosperity mindset. Risk taking is vital for accomplishing new things and the precursor for embracing a new challenge. Surmounting new challenges leads to personal development.

The combination of feeling self-confident and secure with risk-taking empowers children. “It teaches them to be braver in unfamiliar situations and to stand up for themselves,” says psychologist Daniel Paquette.

The Foundation for Sustaina​​​​ble Success

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A teenager or young adult that is willing to take a risk and accept a challenge will become more independent. Having a sense of independence will foster their desire to build skills and contribute to society. Being aware of their capability to provide value to others leads to having a prosperity mindset. A prosperity mindset can help a youngster make a difference in the world and lay the foundation for sustainable success.                                      

Empowered Fathers in Action and DreamSmart Academy have partnered to empower fathers and families. Our focus is to address the consequences of inadequate father-son relationships and provide stable sustainable solutions for families. We offer fathers and families a unique, scientifically researched, and evidence-based program. Our program equips fathers with the tools they need to strengthen their family units. We call our program Behavioral  SuperPowers Impact Training.

Our solution focuses on fathers being behaviorally intelligent and emotionally smart. This approach decodes difficult to understand family dynamics and optimizes family performance using validated behavioral insights. The emphasis is on the father playing a pivotal role. By owning his behavior, he is co-creating an environment that fosters self-awareness and growth to enrich family dynamics.

“We must get to the root cause of the problem," says Christopher Salem, CEO and co-founder of  Empowered Fathers in Action. “There is no better time than the present to operate from within the solution rather than just manage the problem. We equip families with the tools and resources needed to shift from codependence to Interdependence. When one family shifts to Interdependence, the community in which they live will be impacted. This shift will foster more interdependent businesses, schools, and organizations while enriching the economy.”

 Joseph Cohen is the Director of Communications, DreamSmart Academy, and co-author of Write Father, Write Son: A Bond-Building Journey.
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