Studies: Children Better Off With Present Fathers
Children add a level of levity into the lives of their parents that wasn’t there before. They bring out something special inside of them that they did not know that they previously had. Trusting a sense of right and wrong inside of you is so scary, that one of the main goals of parenting is to not mess things up. This level of uncertainty scares parents almost as much as not being present in their child or children’s lives. Due to how often courts favor the mother in awarding custody, many fathers feel a level of uncertainty in their child’s lives moving forward.
These fathers are unsure of their place in their child’s life. Without a present role where their child lives, there can be discomfort or awkwardness when wading the waters of their child’s life. For these fathers, visitation and custody exchanges can feel like activities outside of the child’s every day life and normal routine.
Every day activities
Unfortunately, part of that every day life is something that fathers are going to miss. Research from Brigham Young University found that these simple, every day activities like eating a meal, playing video games, or just watching TV, are even more important to share with fathers, than the big outings or trips.
The problem is that often times, fathers who are not present during these day-to-day activities, are more likely to try and go all out in going on a trip or doing something bigger or more expensive in order to capture the attention and memories of their child, whom they love and miss.
It’s important for these fathers to know that they are important in their own child’s life. The urge to be absent in order to promote that sense of normalcy may be present, but fathers are a necessary piece in a child’s life, according to the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association. Without being present in a child’s life, you do not get to know a child. You don’t get to be the parent or teacher that they need in order to grow and mature as an individual.
Knowing a child is an important part to parenting a child. Being aware of their behaviors, likes, dislikes, relationships, and idiosyncrasies allows fathers to take an active interest in their child’s day-to-day life and understand them more effectively during visits, extended stays, holidays, birthdays, family events, etc.
It also allows the father to learn their child’s typical whereabouts, in case anything was to happen to them. Preparing for worst case scenarios allows for precautions to help fathers in the future. Similarly, there are precautions built into the legal system that allow fathers the opportunity to be a part of their child’s life.
The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008, and the Child and Family Services Reviews are in place as legal measures intended to secure and boost the judicial oversight over child protection cases.
These cases also help protect the rights of fathers and promote parental engagement. The courts want active parents, and in helping these parents achieve a more active role in their child’s life, they are promoting functioning families.
However, past experiences with troubled and disinterested fathers can often lead to negative stereotypes in the minds of child protection officials. These past experiences can sometimes influence decisions in schedules and assessments regarding parental fitness and support.
Allowing them the opportunity to learn more about the father’s set of circumstances and ability to be there for their child, physically, emotionally, and financially, squashes those stereotypes and negative presumptions quickly.
Better Off With You
The Father Involvement Research Alliance has done studies that have shown that even from early developmental stages, children with involved fathers are more likely to be confident in new situations, eager to explore their surroundings, and emotionally secure. The studies show that toddlers with present fathers have a higher IQ by the age of 3 and are better problem solvers.
The U.S. Department of Education found that 43 percent of children with highly involved fathers were more likely than other children to earn mostly As in school and were 33 percent less likely to repeat a grade. Depression and behavioral problems also are less likely to occur in children with highly involved fathers.
The need for fathers to be present in their child’s life is apparent. Children without the presence of a father figure can function and live whole and complete lives, but if a child were to have the choice to have or not have a functioning, caring, loving and present father in their lives, why would they ever choose not to?