Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)




The society in which our children are living and growing today is complicated by strife and conflict both internally and externally . It is a time when statisticians are telling us that 481 out of 1,000 marriages, or nearly one out of every four, will end in divorce; many others will end in separations not legally terminated (Bureau of Census, 1966). Many families are also separated because of the military action which at present is keeping 500,000 men at war in a country many thousands of miles from their families. During the year 1967 over nine thousand of this number did not live to return to their families (U.S. News, 1968).

If many of our children are living in fatherless homes, it is, therefore, important that we understand, as much as possible, the effects of this separation upon the child. By understanding and appreciating more fully the situations a fatherless child must face, the school counselor can become more fully prepared to assist the child.

It is one of those generally accepted facts that for the best development of the child he should live in a home where both the mother and the father are present and supportive. Two studies verify this generalization by showing the effects of paternal deprivation. Suedfeld (1967) reported that paternal absence during childhood differentiated significantly between successful and unsuccessful Peace Corps volunteers. In two independent studies, the proportion of individuals from fatherless homes was significantly greater among unsuccessful volunteers. Pasley (1955) published a book containing brief biographies of the 21 Americans and one Briton who elected to stay in Communist China after the Korean War. As Pasley pointed out, of the 21 Americans, eleven had "lost their fathers at an early age, through divorce or death." Of the 21, nineteen "felt unloved or unwanted by fathers or step-fathers (p. 424)."

"That children are best reared in a home with two loving and understanding parents is so obvious as to need no statement," Dorothy Barclay (1959, p. 69) has commented, typifying current opinion. This viewpoint is so prevalent that it comes close to heresy to question it. Although William Goode (1956), in his comprehensive study of divorce, points to the almost total lack of research on the effects of divorce on children, he concludes:

At every developmental phase of childhood the child needs the father (who is usually the absent parent) as an object of love, security, or identification, or even as a figure against whom to rebel safely.... It would be surprising if the absence of the father had no effect on the child (p. 309).