Meet Tony and Kylie. We’re going to look in on them at various stages of their lives ranging from birth to age 26:
Tony (infancy): Following birth, Tony goes home with his mom and dad. He is breastfed and grows quickly. By the age of one, tests show that Tony has advanced cognitive skills. He shows no fear and learns quickly. His mom says that Tony’s dad is a good father. Tony enjoys nightly wrestling with his dad.
Kylie (infancy): Following birth, Kylie goes home with her mom. Kylie’s mom and dad dated for a few months prior to the pregnancy. Kylie’s dad moved out of town before Kylie was born. He has never had contact with Kylie and does not pay child support. Kylie’s mom is depressed following the birth. She bottle-feeds Kylie who cries a lot and seems distressed and anxious. By the age of one, Kylie has been to the emergency room several times for injuries related to falls and burns.
Tony (elementary school): Tony loves school and earns mostly “A” grades. He is a self-starter and behaves well. He has many friends.
Kylie (elementary school): Kylie misses a lot of school due to asthma attacks and dislikes school when she is there. She has low self-esteem, is impulsive, and frequently misbehaves. She earns mostly “C” grades along with a few “D” grades. She has few friends.
Tony (high school): Tony takes advanced placement classes. He enjoys playing sports and is well-liked. By his junior year, Tony is trying to decide which college he would like to attend.
Kylie (high school): Kylie is a year behind, having flunked fourth grade. She is aggressive and has had several suspensions for fighting. Kylie steals her mom’s prescription drug that her mom takes for depression. Kylie enjoys partying with her friends and frequently skips school with them. By her junior year, Kylie is pregnant and drops out of school.
Tony (age 26): Tony has graduated from college at the top of his class. He has a good-paying job in finance. He has many friends and enjoys recreational sports. Tony volunteers as a Big Brother once a week. Tony is engaged to be married and plans to buy a house within a year.
Kylie (age 26): Kylie lives with her mom who helps care for Kylie’s now 10-year old daughter. Kylie still struggles with low self-esteem. She has held a series of fast-food restaurant jobs but clashes frequently with other employees and her boss. Kylie has just learned that she is pregnant. She plans to marry the father, a high-school dropout, who works at a fast-food restaurant.
Do you know what factor is most highly associated with the good outcomes for Tony and the poor outcomes for Kylie?
Is there any intervention that might have changed the poor outcomes for Kylie?
Is there anything that you can do now to prevent future Kylies from having the same poor outcomes?
While you’re thinking about these questions, here’s the source of the outcomes for Tony and Kylie: http://www.fira.ca/cms/documents/29/Effects_of_Father_Involvement.pdf
And, here are some resources that practitioners can use to help future Kylie’s: http://www.nfpn.org/father-involvement/
Priscilla Martens, Executive Director