The Importance of an Involved Father in a Child’s Life

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an involved father in a child's life

This blog will discuss the importance of an involved father in a child's life. While you may be well aware of this, you may still be surprised by how true this is. 

Let's take an overview of the benefits to babies and children with involved fathers.

Importance of Dad in a Child's Life

82% of studies on father involvement found significant associations between that involvement and their offspring's well-being. Involved fathers link with improved weight gains in preterm infants and better breastfeeding outcomes.

Children with sensitive and supportive fathers also have higher levels of social competence and exhibit better peer relationships. There is also a correlation between having a strong father figure and the lack of aggression in children.

While it's very close, recent research shows that fathers may have a more significant impact on language development in children than their mothers.

Fathers who nurture and interact with their babies raise children with higher IQs, better cognitive scores, and better language ability.

For instance, involved fathers tend to ask their children more questions than mothers, which helps to build a richer vocabulary and better communication skills.

The importance of an involved father in a child's life

This communication is significant because language skills correlate highly with academic success. 

Involved Dads are just as Important as Moms

While a mother's love is critically important, having an active father plays just as important a role in a child's development.

Over a hundred studies have shown that having a loving and nurturing father is as essential for children's happiness, well-being, and academic success as having a caring and nurturing mother.

The impact of the father starts very early, during the prenatal period. As common sense would tell us and the past few decades of research have concluded, the earlier a dad gets involved with his child, the better.

There's plenty of evidence that early attachment to a baby brings with it more widespread involvement in the long-term as a father.

Happy father and pregnant mother on dock

For instance, when a father is fully involved in a pregnancy, he is also more likely to be involved as an active parent. Such as performing caretaking tasks, offering emotional support to both child and spouse, and enjoying activities like reading to his children.

Fathers' prenatal involvement is the strongest predictor of a father's substantial involvement in the child's life when the child reaches five years of age. Paternal involvement just after birth is also critical.

Research shows that when men can spend two weeks or more with the child after birth, they're almost twice as likely to be involved in diapering, feeding, cleaning, and caring for their infant at nine months.

When fathers are concerned with the daily care of children, such as feeding, bathing, and playing together, the children tend to be more confident and enjoy stronger social interactions with peers as they develop.

Engaged fathers behave warmly and interact meaningfully with their children. It's all a matter of legitimately caring for your children, putting in the time, and modeling good behavior.

You don't have to be perfect--they say that half of success is showing up--and making a genuine effort to be there for your children makes a huge difference.

A father's involvement has increased dramatically over the past several decades, going from an image of the distant breadwinner to that of an equal co-parent.

Father Stats Show the Importance of Dads Involvement

The statistics speak for themselves. Children who grow up with involved fathers are:

  • 40% more likely to achieve mainly A's in school
  • 40% less likely to have to repeat a school grade
  • 60% less likely to be suspended or expelled from school
  • 75% less likely to give birth as a teen
  • two times as likely to go to college and find stable employment
  • 80% less likely to go to jail
zfsther holding tiny baby shoes

Involved Fathering impacts a Child's Development

Let's take a look in more detail at nine important ways that involved fathers impact their child's development:

1. Increases Emotional and Problem Solving Intelligence

Studies show that children with actively involved fathers throughout the 1st year of the child's life perform better on cognitive assessments and demonstrate an increased capacity for both exploration and curiosity.

Children with active dads score higher on verbal and math tests and are less likely to be dropouts or commit juvenile crimes.

2. Boosts Confidence 

When a child feels valued, loved, and emotionally supported by their father, they are generally happier, more confident, and exhibit higher self-esteem.

They also show greater resilience to stress and frustration, less fear of new situations, and later in life, increased ability to resist peer pressure and stand up for themselves.

3. Gives the Child Someone to Look up to

It is important to remember that children always watch their parents, so what you do matters. Active fathers provide positive male role models for their children and promote positive behavior such as:

  • Impulse control
  • longer attention spans
  • a higher level of sociability
  • compassion and generosity
  • increased awareness of fairness and the rights of others

4. Provides a Second Perspective 

Children are full of curiosity, and since two parents approach life from somewhat different vantage points, this exposes children to a wide range of thinking and problem-solving abilities.

Active dads share their unique perspectives on life and help to teach their children valuable life skills.

Usually, the balance in parenting between a mother and father is complementary. No two people are identical, and each has their role in bringing up the children.

Quiet moment dad, mom and sleeping baby

For instance, mothers are often much more cautious with their children, while fathers may encourage their children to play rougher and take healthy risks, which can help with their development.

These strategies also help children show more self-control and better regulate their behavior during playful and stimulating activities.

Fathers also tend to have comparatively slower responses to infants and toddlers experiencing frustration, which helps develop an infant's problem-solving competencies.

Children who feel closeness and warmth with their father are also half as likely to show signs of depression. Fathers also encourage competition more often, engendering independence.

Moms generally tend to dole out more sympathy, care, and a sense of security. Dads may emphasize conceptual communication, which helps expand vocabulary and intellectual growth.

Both mother and father stress rules, justice, fairness, and discipline in navigating the world. And by being a better partner to your spouse, just by modeling that, you significantly increase the likelihood of your children becoming involved mothers and fathers with their children.

5. Makes a Child Feel Loved

Having a steady source of love from a father helps children grow happy and healthy, with high self-esteem.

Tender father and baby sleeping

6. Helps Set the Bar for Behavior 

Like mothers, fathers are cornerstones in developing a child's emotional world.

Children look towards their dad to lay down the rules and enforce them. They also look towards their father to provide a sense of emotional and physical security.

Children naturally desire to make their fathers proud of them, and so involved fathers promote inner growth and strength with children who are encouraged to follow their example.

7. Provides a Role Model for Relationships with Others 

How a father relates with his children helps mold how his children will connect with other people and what type of people that child will seek out later in life.

A child will select friends, lovers, and spouses greatly based on how the child perceives their relationship with their dad.

8. Provides a Role Model for Daughters 

A father sets an example of a good relationship with a man through his connection with both his daughter and spouse.

If he's loving, gentle, firm, and conscientious, his daughter will relate closely to men with the same character and seek a partner with these traits.

When dads take the role of fathering seriously, their children tend to avoid high-risk behaviors and are far less likely to have sex at a young age.

They are also more likely to incur fewer psychological problems throughout life and have healthy, stable relationships.

Involved dad blowing bubbles with two children

9. Provides a Role Model for Sons 

Boys seek approval from their fathers and want to make them proud from a very young age.

They tend to model themselves after their fathers. So they will grow up to one degree or another imitating their father's behavior to function in the world. If a father is kind, caring, and treats people with respect, his son will too.

In one 26 year-long study, researchers found that father involvement was the most critical factor in developing empathy in children.

In simple terms, fathers spending regular time alone with their children translated to children who became empathetic adults.

Absentee Fathers To The Detriment of Children 

Now let's look at the polar opposite of the involved dad -– that is, the absent father. This reveals a great deal. One in 4 children lives without a biological, step, or adoptive father in the home.

No matter how hard single mothers work in making their children feel loved and safe, the absence of a father figure influences kids more than you might expect.

These consequences show up in different aspects of children's development and social behavior.

Children with absentee fathers have far greater negative thoughts and attitudes regarding school and teachers and generally harbor more negative behaviors.

According to professional research, an absentee father can even permanently alter brain structure and chemistry in children. And it can forecast many behavioral issues later on in life.

For example, a study of Latina high school students showed that absent fathers could predict suicidal thoughts and behavior in teens.

Most inmates come from fatherless homes, and a 1994 study showed that only 13% of Wisconsin incarcerated juveniles grew up with married parents.

Another study of juvenile inmates indicated that the lack of a father in their lives was the only disadvantage they had compared to other individuals.

Absentee Father Statistics 

Absent fathers spill over into nearly all the ills of our society, and the statistics speak as a tale of woe. Children with absent fathers are:

  • At twice the risk of infant mortality
  • more likely to have lower birth weights and earlier births
  • Four times more likely to live in poverty
  • More likely to face abuse and neglect
  • More likely to have behavioral problems
  • Twice as likely to suffer obesity
  • Three times more likely to have emotional and behavior problems.
  • Four times more likely to be smokers
  • More likely to abuse drugs and alcohol
  • Twice as likely be high school dropouts
  • More than three times as likely to get pregnant
  • More likely to commit suicide. 63% of teenage suicides are from fatherless homes.
  • Three times more likely to carry guns and participate in drug trafficking as juveniles
  • More likely to commit a crime
  • Twice as likely to go to prison

Role of the Father in Child Development

As an involved dad in the pregnancy and the first couple of years of your child's life, you are forging a series of relationships that you now have or will eventually have with your children.

Let's wrap up by looking at a father's various roles in his child's development throughout life.

Protector 

Involved fathers provide children with a sense of physical, emotional, and mental security.

When a child has confidence that their father will be there for them no matter what, it builds a sense of security and stability, which cannot be replaced. 

Educator 

A proactive dad is essential in conveying the basic principles and values that children need to get along in life.

The father must communicate the code of conduct that one must adhere to while living in society, including being disciplined, well mannered, and respectful.

This guidance gives a child a roadmap to navigate their world and helps keep them motivated to work on themselves. 

Role Model

Children in all interactions are always observing parents.

Children are naturally curious about how their parents treat others. If a father wants his children to be kind, respectful, and honorable, he must act that way towards the people around him.

In this way, children learn what a man should be from the example set by their father.

Entertainer

Fathers are more likely to be monkeying around and playing with the children. And an involved father may enjoy having his children ride around on his back, play catch or engage in other physical activities.

Often, he can teach them to solve problems and develop strategies during playtime. Play helps children become more physical and flexible in dealing with their world and becoming better sports in general.

All this contributes to the children forming closer bonds with friends later on.

Friend 

By forming a healthy relationship with your child, you're setting the stage of becoming friends later on as adults.

Happy mom, dad, brother and baby

While it is essential to set boundaries so your children don't take advantage of you, having a close friendly relationship will make it less likely for them to stray towards undesirable habits.

Children will also be less likely to become depressed when you set the stage for a healthy relationship, and it's also easier to guide your children when they are comfortable and encouraged around you.

Counselor

Fathers should always be ready and willing to counsel their children when needed. Fathers can explain things to their children that help them grow in character and understanding.

To help make sure that your children are open about their problems or difficulties, be sure to open up to them about some of your own childhood experiences and lessons you learned growing up.

Help them solve challenges with sensitivity and confidence, whether school related or personal. Do your best to teach them the right way to handle a difficult situation and let them know that you'll always be there for them.

All this will go a long way in helping them solve their problems and plays a prominent role in their emotional and mental development.

Trainer

Helping to train children is where life skills come in, crucial for a child finding their place in the world. Teach them how to fix broken toys, create new things, draw, swim and ride bikes.

Be encouraging and give them plenty of opportunities to earn your praise. Your children will naturally look to you for guidance and work hard for your approval.

Partner

Being a good spouse to your wife sets a good example and is often overlooked or underplayed in parenting. A mother and father consistently model how to be in a relationship with a loving partner.

Children should see how men and women can work together to create unity and harmony in a home, with everyone benefiting from growing up in such an environment.

A supportive relationship between mom and dad links to a child having greater self-regulation and stable relationships in the future.

Conclusion

All this goes to underscore the importance that the involved father plays in the life of his children. I hope you found this blog to be helpful, and I would very much like to hear any comments you may have. I respond to all. Best of luck and happy parenting!

About the author 

Dan Sperling

I'm the proud father of two great children. They are grown up now, and although I would have preferred to be a stay-at-home dad, I had to work. Luckily, I could work out of my home so I was around a lot. I ran a video production company, had a couple of great guys working with me and it allowed me to be around the children a lot. I was the "fun guy" for my kids and fathering was something I just took to.
When my daughter became pregnant, I was glad to see my son-in-law was doing everything right--or as good as it gets--we're always winging it, right? It got me thinking that so many dads would like to be more emotionally involved and knowledgeable when it comes to their wives' pregnancy and the first year of their children's lives.

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  1. Loved this blog! I found it very interesting and informative. I think that there isn’t much for fathers out there sobthis is super helpful and full of so much knowledge. This has came at a perfect time when my bf can no longer attend ultrasound appointments so I love that I can share this with him so that he can have other ways to bond with baby and feel a part of the journey even if I’m the one carrying the baby. Truly loved this and can’t wait to read more!

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