The importance of fathers in the healthy development of children

Father’s day is a celebration honoring fathers and celebrating fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society. Many countries celebrate it on the third Sunday of June, but it is also celebrated widely on other days.

Fathers play an important role in their children’s development and have a powerful impact on their well-being and health. Well-fathered children are shown to be more emotionally intelligent and socially successful as adults. When fathers are absent, their absence may negatively impact children’s academic achievement, gender-specific development, general behavioral adjustment and anger management, especially in males.

Yet just being physically present isn’t enough to be a great father. It is critical that a dad be warm and emotionally available to his child.

A parent’s attitude toward emotions can have a big impact on the way children learn to cope with feelings. Children whose parents respond to their emotions with patience and empathy do better in lots of ways, including academic achievement, better overall health, and stronger friendships”¦

While children may not always recognize the importance dad plays in their lives, most children long for and need a loving, involved and responsible father or father-figure.

Children with involved, caring fathers have better educational outcomes. Numerous studies find that an active and nurturing style of fathering associates with better verbal skills and intellectual functioning.

Children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure. They are confident to explore their surroundings, and, as they grow older, have better social connections with peers. These children also are less likely to get in trouble at home, school, or in the neighborhood.

Fathers also influence their children in large part through the quality of their relationship with the mother of their children. Those who treat the mothers of their children with respect and deal with conflict within the relationship in an adult and appropriate manner are more likely to have boys who understand how they are to treat women and who are less likely to act in an aggressive fashion toward females. Girls with involved, respectful fathers see how they should expect men to treat them and are less likely to become involved in violent or unhealthy relationships.

Credit:  Child Welfare Information Gateway  Rich Batten, Colorado State University Extension