The Importance of Fathers

Four decades later, after research and hundreds of studies, statistics show that fathers who are active in their children's lives largely determine their future success. Better social life, grades at school, and future achievements may result when there is a dad in a child's life.

In the article, "Why Kids Need Their Dads" by Steve Loyd, fathers' contributions to their children's wellbeing are explored:

1. Involved Dads = Successful children
Dads effect their children from birth onward. According to studies by the Father Involvement Research Alliance, babies are more emotionally grounded; toddlers are better problem-solvers; and school-age children adapt better with involved fathers. In addition, children of involved fathers do better academically and are less likely to repeat a grade or experience problems at school. Girls with involved fathers have higher self-esteem, while boys have less aggression and more self-direction. Children of involved fathers are more likely to achieve higher levels of education, find success in their careers, and are more likely to have long-term marriages.

2. Everyday activities are important
A study by Brigham Young University researchers contend that, "Although participation in family leisure activities is important and needed, it was fathers' involvement in the everyday, home-based, common family leisure activities that held more weight than the large, extravagant, out-of-the-ordinary types of activities when examining family functioning,"

3. Different approaches
"Fathers and mothers have unique and complementary roles in the home," says Brett Copeland, a clinical psychologist in Tacoma, Washington. "Fathers encourage competition, independence, and achievement. Mothers encourage equity, security, and collaboration." W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project and professor of sociology at the University of Virginia, says that fathers' special input on their children differs from mothers' in at least four ways: playing, encouraging risk, protecting, and disciplining.

4. Playing A manual from the U.S. Children's Bureau explains the impact of fathers' play this way: "From these interactions, children learn how to regulate their feelings and behavior. Roughhousing with dad, for example, can teach children how to deal with aggressive impulses and physical contact without losing control of their emotions."

5. Encouraging risk
While mothers tend to worry about their children's safety and well-being, fathers encourage their children to take risks. Psychologist Daniel Paquette's research found that dads are more likely to encourage their children to overcome obstacles, to talk to strangers, and to go in the deep end during swim lessons.

6. Protecting
Fathers appear to be better at keeping bad influences from harming their children. Psychologist Rob Palkovitz said in The Atlantic, "Paternal absence has been cited by multiple scholars as the single greatest risk factor in teen pregnancy for girls." When fathers are more involved, they can better monitor what's going on in their children's lives, including interaction with peers and adults.

7. Disciplining
Mothers discipline more often, fathers discipline with a firmer hand. In their book Partnership Parenting, Drs. Kyle Pruett and Marsha Kline Pruett write, "Fathers tend to be more willing than mothers to confront their children and enforce discipline, leaving their children with the impression that they in fact have more authority." Mothers seem to rely on kids' emotional attachment to them to influence their behavior.

Even dads with average parenting skills can make a real impact on their children's lives. W. Bradford Wilcox sums up his study with "great, and even good-enough dads appear to make a real difference in their children's lives."

Source: Parenting: Why Kids need their Dads, by Skye Loyd