While popular psychology typically focuses on the role of mothers in child rearing, fathers are also immensely important in bringing up balanced, well-adjusted and happy children. Both have complementary parenting styles and strengths to give children the love, support and guidance they need for healthy development. Fathers in particular, influence a child's emotional, social and intellectual grounding.
Playtime with Dad usually involves playful "rough-housing" and more one-on-one interaction than playtime with Mom. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notes that this type of play helps your child to regulate emotions and behavior and control aggression. A 2008 review in "Acta Paediatrica" showed that boys who are raised with regularly engaged fathers have fewer behavioral problems. Another study published in "Obstetrical and Gynecological Survey" in 2005, found that babies with fathers who suffered from depression were at higher risk of behavioral and emotional problems by the age of 3.5 years.
An actively involved and reliable father helps to instill emotional security and confidence in his child. This has a significant impact on her psychological well-being and mental health. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notes that children who have good relationships with their fathers are less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and emotional problems. They also show stronger self-esteem and a healthy body image, and are better able to avoid drugs and other negative influences in the teenage years.
Fathers help to promote independence and a healthy view of the outside world, and their children are more likely to be sociable, friendly and popular with their peers. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services advises that this is important from birth. Babies with fathers who respond quickly to them are more comfortable exploring their environment and adapt faster after a brief separation from their parent. Active fathering also sets the bar for good gender relations. Psychologist Ditta M. Oliker says on the website of Psychology Today, that adolescent girls with involved fathers will grow up to have a healthier, more positive opinion of -- and relationship with -- men.
Research published in "Child Maltreatment" in 2001, suggests that fathers' involvement in child-rearing enhances brain development and learning. Toddlers and young children with caring and nurturing dads have advanced language development and begin school more academically ready. They are also better able to cope with stress and frustration during learning and studying. The U.S. Department of Education notes that fathers influence academic achievement; children who have very involved fathers are more likely to have better verbal skills and earn higher grades.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: The Importance of Fathers in the Healthy Development of Children
- Acta Paediatrica: Fathers' Involvement and Children's Developmental Outcomes: A Systematic Review of Longitudinal Studies; 2008
- Psychology Today: The Importance of Fathers; Ditta M. Oliker, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist
- Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey: Paternal Depression in the Postnatal Period and Child Development; 2005
- U.S. Department of Education: Fathers' and Mothers' Involvement in Their Children's Schools by Family Type and Resident Status; 2001
- Child Maltreatment: Father Involvement and Children's Functioning at Age 6 Years; 2001
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