The impact of mothers on their children has been widely studied and recognized. Scientists and psychologists have researched in depth how a mother’s involvement influences her child and even the way motherhood literally alters her brain. But the same cannot be said for fathers. The importance of fathers has, until recently, been otherwise neglected. Researchers are just now catching up to what many of us already knew — dads make your life better. With this, we have learned a lot about just how essential a positive father figure is for healthy child development.
Fathers as Active Parents
For many years, fathers took a backseat to parenting. Stereotypical gender roles were widely accepted — fathers at work, mothers at home — but in recent generations, this dynamic has shifted. With women becoming more active in the workforce, men have taken up more involved roles in their children’s lives. In many families today, both mothers and fathers take care of children and share their duties as parents. And because of it, fathers are becoming more aware of how their involvement is beneficial to them and their children.
Today, it isn’t uncommon to see stay-at-home dads. In fact, as of 2016, 17% of stay-at-home parents were fathers. This is a significant improvement compared to 10% in 1989. In recent generations, dads are less likely to be the sole breadwinner of their families. Dads, just like moms, see parenthood as central to their identity and society is redefining its opinion on what the modern-day family should look like.
Only 20% of American households consist of married couples with children. These days, we see family structures of all types, which has led to fathers taking on a variety of roles. Whether he is married, single, divorced, widowed, straight, gay, adoptive, step-father, or stay-at-home parent, the important thing is that he is actively involved. That is what makes the biggest difference.
Fathers and Healthy Child Development
Studies have shown that the more involved a father is in his child’s life, the better the child does overall. Fathers provide children with security, both emotionally and physically. When a father is affectionate and supportive, he helps his child’s cognitive and social development. Fathers play a significant role in a child’s ability to form positive social relationships for the rest of their life. Similarly, children with involved fathers are less likely to have behavioral problems, including drug abuse, and more likely to be successful. Research shows that fathers are just as important as mothers in their positions as caregivers and models for social and emotional behaviors.
As children grow up, they look to their parents to model behavior. For young girls in particular, their relationship with their father will affect her self-esteem and somewhat determine her future relationships with men, romantic or otherwise. As for young boys, his father will be his model for masculinity and the way he treats others.
Children don’t know how much a mortgage is or how much groceries cost and quite frankly, they don’t care. What children want and need is a dad who is there to play fetch, help with homework, read a book, or just cuddle. The research has only confirmed something we already knew, which is children need loving, supportive, and attentive parents. They need the security and love of their parents, dads included.
Fatherhood is More Than Babysitting
There is no doubt that fathers play an essential role in a child’s development. But there is still a long way to go in terms of societal acceptance. Many fathers feel as though they are second-class citizens in the parenting world, with the media’s tendency to accentuate the importance of mothers and not that of fathers. But because there hasn’t been extensive enough research, psychologists and scientists are just scratching the surface of just how much fathers influence their child’s well-being. Overall, our culture has shifted in a positive direction. One that has expanded resources for fathers and helped them to grow and experience the joys of parenthood.
Affirming a father’s importance in child development has led to more fathers desiring to be active and positive forces in their children’s lives. This change has resulted in happier and healthier children, as well as parents. Fathers are no-longer looked at as “baby-sitters” or secondary parents. They are appreciated and a necessary part of the family dynamic. Most of all, they are dearly loved!
Adoption Choices of Nevada
If you are currently in the process of adopting a baby and have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact, Adoption Choices of Nevada. You may visit the website here or contact us by 775-825-4673 (Reno Office) or 702-474-4673 (Las Vegas Office). Our hours are Monday through Friday, 9am-5pm PST.
Make an Impact
Adoption Choices, Inc. is partnering with Crowdrise, a fundraising website for nonprofits, to help our adoptive parents and birth parents with much needed financial assistance. We understand that expenses keep clients from fulfilling their dreams. Both with birth parents making a plan for adoption, and with adoptive parents growing their family. It is our mission to provide financial assistance through grants and scholarships, awarded annually in November, in honor of National Adoption Month. Funds assist adoptive parents with matching and placements, adoption finalization and helping birth mothers improve their lives through higher education — and much more.
However, we can’t do it alone. Please read up on our programs and donate money where you are able. Your donation will make a huge impact.
About the Author
Devon Thornton is a graduate of the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor’s in Creative Writing. She has recently moved from Orlando, FL to Clarksville, TN, and is pursuing her writing career with Adoption Choices and also writing personal essays in her free time. Devon is an avid reader and a big Harry Potter fan.
When she’s not curled up reading a book, you can find her somewhere on a hike or a camping trip. She loves her cat, Minerva, and considers herself a true animal lover. She hopes one day to publish a book of essays and to maybe meet J.K. Rowling.
Gross, Gail. “The Important Role of Dad.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 12 Aug. 2014, www.huffpost.com/entry/the-important-role-of-dad_b_5489093?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAG5KgQaDh4o3opr7WjDWBtOmUTOL52lFYUXTYzAB5FRiLJyQOQInNmM6O6-a7OO-aKQ_doey1ACF-DANJhKW2TdjdnuvMFvSv07aDOhItvkYNHJBbStinU0t7So-G7PJgF-ZjCFehKPHN54g4li7K03JbsvEkWmV-FTl5nWGGNHD.
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Livingston, Gretchen, and Kim Parker. “8 Facts about American Dads.” Pew Research Center, Pew Research Center, 12 June 2019, www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/06/12/fathers-day-facts/.
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