Why is it important for children to grow up with a father and/or mother figure in their lives?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The concept of parenting is extremely important for a variety of reasons.  In taking Maslow's hierarchy of needs for a self- actualized human being, one recognizes that parents play a vital role in the providing of the grounds in which the recognition of these needs can take place.  For example, it is a parent's function to be able to provide the physiological needs for a child.  Mothers, fathers, or both must be able to give the basic elements of survival for a child such as nourishment, water, and sleep.  Children look to their parents for food and to allow them to sleep.  When children don't have this, so much fragmentation results because they struggle to find these needs anywhere, precluding the acknowledgement of higher notions of good.  The famous educational theories Paolo Freire argues that his failures as a student early on was because he was hungry, due to the poor condition of his family.  His assertion begs the question as to how children can learn when they are hungry?  These needs have to be met by parents.

The safety needs and love needs are also ones that parents have to provide.  Children look to their parents to be protected, to live a life of predictability in a comfort zone, and to be loved and included as a part of something larger than themselves.  Who else would provide these other than parents?  If children have to look for these needs elsewhere, they are more susceptible to manipulation and violation of trust.  The needs for self- esteem and developing a conception of self that is healthy and psychologically sound is also a part of effective parenting.  It is here where parenting becomes the most demanding in ensuring that psychological damage does not come to one's child.  It is here where the job of the mother and father, separate or together is of vital importance for the child.  In the end, it becomes essential for children to grow up with parents because the likelihood of these needs being met increases with the presence of parents/ guardians in a child's life.