Father and son walking

How important are fathers really? A lot – Science says

Fathers day in June was celebrated with pomp as many recognised the value and importance of the men in their lives.

While the day might be gaining prominence in the post-modern age, its significance pales in comparison with the way that Mother’s Day itself is celebrated.

And I have no qualms about that considering the roles a mother plays in the development of her child, as it not only happens in the womb but in also choosing the man who will become the father of her child.

Mothers deserve all the praise they get for all the wonderful work that they do but that doesn’t mean we can’t also celebrate the important role that fathers also play.

Father lifting son
Father lifting son

Many times one will often have to scan far and wide to see the positive portrayals of masculinity vis a vis fatherhood.

Shows like The Simpsons, The Cleveland Show and many other TV shows and films have painted a grim picture of the father either being a bumbling fool or a cursing drunk while most times the wife is portrayed as the paragon of virtue and wisdom.

Art imitates life is a phrase that is often thrown around but in this case is quite apt. And this trend is reflected in how many people view fathers and their roles in fostering wonderful families.

The media and public discourse would have you believe that fathers are not as important in the upbringing of healthy and whole families as mothers are.

And this is seen in the promotion of single motherhood as an adequate and functional replacement to nuclear families with responsible fathers.

This is seen with the celebration of single motherhood being the party-line stand in most mainstream media.

Yet despite the trend in popular culture towards greater acceptance of single motherhood, study after study empirically demonstrates that dads play an extremely important role in a child’s well-being and success. 

Nary is the research and science posited to show the great influence a father has on a family’s well-being. 

In this article I will try to show what science says about the role and importance of an active and responsible father in a family.

In many studies, a direct correlation can be seen between absentee fathers and their children failing as compared to those kids who grew up with responsible fathers.

In numerous studies, children with fathers are less likely to live in poverty. Statistics suggest that children in father-absent homes are more likely to be poor. 

In a 2012 report, they found that children living in female-headed households with no spouse present had a poverty rate 4 times the rate of married-couple families.

A 2001 study showed that students children with fathers do better in school while children whose fathers were highly involved at school were 43% more likely to receive A’s.

Another study showed that fathers who read for fun had a huge influence on their sons who went on to score higher than boys who didn’t have fathers who read for enjoyment.

Children without fathers are more likely to do jail time and have significantly higher odds of incarceration than those in mother/father families. 

Children from single-mother homes reported higher rates of alcohol-imbibing and smoking when compared to boys from households with responsible fathers.

A father’s involvement in the life of his daughter when she is young has been linked with decreased risk of early puberty, early sexual experiences, and decreased even teen pregnancy.

Father with his daughter
Father with his daughter

Another study also showed an increase in obesity rates in homes were fathers were absent.

Even when it comes to a child’s verbal development, fathers play a very important role. A study by Professor Lynne Vernon-Feagans and her team found that that fathers, not mothers, had much more of an influence on a child’s verbal dexterity.

For example, at 3 years of age, father-child communication was a significant and unique predictor of advanced language development in the child but mother-child communication was not.

The Grant Study, one of the longest studies ever done on the lives of men showed that loving fathers imparted to their sons: a greater capacity to play, better fun during vacations and use of humour as a healthy-coping mechanism.

Another study by marriage researcher Professor Brad Wilcox stated that children with fathers are more likely to be encouraged to take healthy risks.

Fathers may also be responsible for equipping their kids with persistence and perseverance that serves them well in life.

It was also found according to one study that it “was not the men with poor mothering but the ones with poor fathering who were significantly more likely to have poor marriages over their lifetimes.”

Men who lacked a good relationship with their fathers were also “much more likely to call themselves pessimists and to report having trouble letting others get close.”

Father with his son
Father with his son

Behavior problems, delinquency, depression, substance abuse and overall psychological adjustment are all more closely linked to dad’s rejection than mom’s, one study showed.

Researchers have also found that a fathers love can have a bigger impact on the kids than a mothers love. “Kids tend to pay more attention to what dad does and dad says than mom, and he’s going to have more influence,” Rohner said.


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