Bill emphasizes that children need both a father and a mother—and growing up without a father figure can have consequences. According to Dr. Poussaint, studies show that children who have dads who are involved in their lives—whether their parents are together or not—tend to do better than children with no father figure. "But the men don't know that, and we have to get a message out there that it's critical that they're involved with their children," Dr. Poussaint says.
The absence of fathers often leaves children feeling abandoned, which Dr. Poussaint says can lead to more negative feelings. "There's the grief and the [sadness], and later they get angry, and who knows how this is all playing out in terms of even the violence that young males have toward each other," Dr. Poussaint says.
Although it's not easy to break the cycle, Bill and Dr. Poussaint say in their book that the situation is not hopeless. "We just have to get these fathers to realize that the children they sired are their children and will always be their children. By walking away, they have punished their children. Once they come and claim their children, and feel the joy and beauty of a hug, they will at least begin to understand what fatherhood is all about. But let's not kid ourselves, either. This is much easier said than done."