Studies show we are all better off when dad feels involved and responsible for his children.
The American Psychological Association (APA) states, "…the influence of father love on children's development is as great as the influence of a mother's love. Fatherly love helps children develop a sense of their place in the world, which helps their social, emotional and cognitive development and functioning. Moreover, children who receive more love from their fathers are less likely to struggle with behavioral or substance abuse problems."
A dad's involvement in his child's day-to-day life, as well as his maintenance of a positive father-child relationship, has effects all through the child's life. The following facts about fathers came from social research on the impact of fathers.
Positive effects of involved fathers:
A father's active involvement in a baby's life encourages confidence and exploration of the world. Babies with fathers who take a regular role in their care are more resilient.
Preschoolers who have involved dads have stronger verbal skills and are more securely attached.
A good father-daughter relationship seems to help girls do better in mathematics and all kids do better in school. They have better grades and fewer behavior issues. They have a greater tolerance for stress and frustration and superior problem-solving skills.
Father involvement is correlated with children's ability to make and keep friendships that are positive, reciprocal, and non-aggressive. Their ability to get along with their siblings is also increased.
Even when dad is not a primary caregiver, even when he doesn't live with his children, his involvement in the child's schooling and learning has a positive effect. His willingness to maintain a positive relationship with the children and their mother is the greatest factor in positive developmental correlation.
Involved fathers themselves are more likely to be self-confident and effective parents, better citizens, more involved in their communities, and have happier longer-lasting marriages.
Mother as Gatekeeper
It's hard for fathers to be good dads when mothers act as the gatekeeper to the father-child relationship. If you have significant reason to suspect your child's father will do harm or neglect a child, that's reason to gate-keep. Otherwise, a compulsion to control or handle things just because you're more practiced is unhealthy for the whole family.
When mothers are supportive and believe their parenting partner is capable of parenting, when they see the benefits of having two different caregivers who love them, men are more likely to be involved and take responsibility. Let dad have a chance.
Even when dad doesn't live with his children, research consistently shows that the most important factor for maintaining child development goals is the nature of the father's relationship with his children and their mother. This is even more important than how often the father sees his children.
So today, give dad an extra chance to be a father. And don't forget to show some love.