The Importance Of Father Involvement

Father involvement in early childhood and onwards makes a big positive difference for the child, research says.

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importance of father involvement
There is no denying of the importance of and positive influence a father's active involvement plays in his child's development. In fact, this idea has been reinforced through the appearance of several new studies reaching the same conclusion.

Besides coming to these conclusions, researchers and community practitioners have seen an increase in fathers' involvement in caring for children and fathers' participation in programs and services for families.

We will look at what the research says about the positive influence of father involvement below.

Key Recent Studies

  • Father's Involvement As a Determinant of Children's Health by Jessica Ball Ph.D, Ken Moselle, Ph.D, Steven Pederen M.P.H.

    This study looked for evidence of the direct effects of a father's involvement on their child's wellbeing, especially in terms of health. The researchers found father's involvement has the potential to greatly impact child development, child survival and health, and also the child's future capacity to become an effective parent. One unique finding was that the level of a father's involvement is self-reinforcing. This means that the more fathers are involved, the more satisfaction they gain from their involvement, which leads to a greater likelihood of this involvement being sustained as the child grows.

  • Father's Involvement and Children's Developmental Outcomes: A systematic review of longitudinal studies by Dr. Anna Sarkadi

    Sarkadi joined forces with other researchers to look at the relationship between child development and father involvement over time (at least one year apart) to determine if there was any cause and effect. The study also looked at different measures of father involvement including: father presence in the home, involvement in childcare, and direct involvement with the children and found an overwhelming number of studies reporting positive long-term effects of father involvement. The study specifically found the following:
  • Stronger cognitive development during infancy;
  • Higher than average social functioning during childhood;
  • Higher educational attainment;
  • Lower incidences of delinquency and criminal behavior.

  • Children do better with involved dads by Fathers Direct

    This study looked at over 20 years of research and 700 papers published about fatherhood. Like the Sarkadi study above, they found father involvement is vital to child development in terms of improving educational achievement, social skills and lowering delinquency and criminal behavior. Other key findings included:
  • Preschoolers who spend more time playing with their dads are often more sociable when entering primary school.
  • Mothers say dads are their main support person after the birth.
  • A crying and smiling baby affects the heart rate and blood pressure of a father in the same way as a mother.


So what do these findings mean?

Well, the implications are pretty huge in my opinion. I think fathers need to be made aware of the implications for their children when they are NOT involved in a consistent and beneficial way for their children. The evidence is clearly stacked in favor of making sure dads step up to the task of being involved with their children.

Furthermore, organizations and social services agencies working with families need to find ways to get dads involved as well. Although dads have gotten a bad rap for being typically the more hands-off parent, it is great to see research showing that trend changing as dads are increasing their involvement and playing a larger role in child rearing.

Further resources on Father Invlovement

Interested in learning more? I've added some links to further resources and organizations working on issues related to fatherhood.

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By Paula Dennholt, Copyright © 2006-2013 EasyBabyLife.Com. Please review our disclaimer before using this site.

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