Studies Highlight Importance of a Present Father
It’s difficult to quantify the benefits of a father being involved in their child’s life, but recent studies have looked into how their role in the care and development of their child has been advantageous to their maturation.
The studies have spoken
Researchers at Michigan State University surveyed Early Head Start children’s programs at 17 locations across the United States, looking into the effects of parents’ stress and mental health problems on their children. They found that the stress and mental health issues have a negative effect on a child’s cognitive and language development between the ages of two to three years old.
Gender also impacted much of the research. They found that a father’s influence had lesser of an effect on the language development of girls than boys. They also found that parental mental health problems created negative behaviors in the children, stunting the growth of their social skills. They suffered from a lack of cooperation with others and saw a notable drop in self-control.
Much of the positive influence in spending time with their child comes from a father’s ability to contribute to their child care. According to the Pew Research Center, fathers spend seven hours a week on child care and 10 hours a week on housework, as of 2011. Additionally, fathers who play with their babies and nurture them create an environment that allows them to have higher IQs when they grow up according to the Office of Abuse and Neglect in the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
Even as teenagers, fathers who were highly involved gave way to students with higher grades. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 43 percent of teenagers with highly involved biological fathers were more likely than teenagers without involved biological fathers to earn mostly A’s in school.
Benefit to the parent
The benefits in having a close relationship between child and father are not entirely one-sided. According to studies at Boston College, fathers who spent more time with their children report having more confidence as parents. That time also is spent on days where the fathers already have worked at their jobs, allowing them to engage in their roles as a provider or co-provider of the family, as well as their role as a parent.
For one in 25 fathers, it is not actually their biological child that they are raising, according to research from Liverpool John Moores University that was published in The Guardian. Even if it isn’t though, it doesn’t always matter. There are countless cases of parents who discover later in in life that they are not the biological parent of a child, and they still continue to love and nurture the child, just the same as they always have. Being the dad is more important than being the father.
Encourage healthy growth
All of this research and these studies indicate the need for a father to present in their child’s life. During a divorce, it is incredibly easy for a parent to want to shield their child from a co-parent, because of their own feelings, but that shielding can be unnecessary if the co-parent has done nothing to indicate that they would be at all a threat or a danger to the growth, development, and overall well-being of the child in question. The shielding would then be for selfish purposes and could actually hurt the case of the parent doing the shielding.
It’s important to give fathers the opportunity to be a parent to their child. In highlighting the role that a father plays in the development and growth of a child, they are speaking to the advantages and opportunities that children involved in these studies have had later in life. In fostering a healthy relationship with their fathers, these children are flourishing, not letting divorce or custody issues hold them back from being the best children that they can be.