The impact of father involvement on children’s well-being and development.

How Many Fathers Are Best For a Child?

Fathers have a very important role in their children’s lives. A warm accepting father-child relationship contributes to children’s social well-being, academic achievement and behavioral adjustment.

Dads who take a long period of leave around childbirth tend to be more involved in childcare activities. This is true of both “solo” and “absent” dads.

1. The mother

In the past, a mother could not have fed her children alone, so women sought husbands who would be faithful to them and ensure that their offspring survived. This is why fathers, like mothers, are pillars of the family structure. They set the rules and enforce them. They provide a sense of security and promote inner strength.

Most fathers who live with their children actively engage in childcare activities, including playing with them and reading to them. A substantial percentage of fathers report setting limits on their children’s TV viewing and outdoor play activities.

These figures may be biased if maternal involvement influences fathers’ leave taking and childcare activities. Robustness tests were run to address this issue by controlling for mother’s characteristics (sex, age at child’s birth, education level and number of hours worked per week), father’s characteristics (age at child’s birth, foreign language spoken at home and number of siblings) and family-related variables (parental cohabitation, marriage status and parents’ mental health). These analyses did not find evidence of omitted variable bias.

2. The father

Fathers are a vital part of the child’s life. A loving and nurturing dad helps children develop social skills, self-confidence and a positive sense of identity and self-worth. He encourages them to take risks such as swimming in the deep end of a pool or talking to someone new. He also listens to their problems and concerns.

Father involvement has a strong impact on child development from birth to early adulthood. It is correlated with higher IQ scores and better language and cognitive skills. In addition, children with involved fathers have better academic achievement and are more sociable and well-adjusted.

Moreover, studies show that the quality of fathers’ involvement is more important than the quantity of their time spent with their children. This is because fathers vary in their energy levels and attitudes towards parenting. For example, a young father may have more energy and less gender stereo-typed attitudes toward childcare than his older counterpart.

3. The grandparents

Fathers who take leave from work are more likely to stay involved in their children’s lives than those who do not. This is especially true for those who do not remarry after a separation or divorce. These findings were based on logistic multivariate regression analyses controlling for child-related variables (sex, age in months, ethnicity and whether foreign language is spoken at home); paternal characteristics (age at child’s birth, education level and employment during pregnancy) and family-related variables.

Dads tend to push their kids beyond their comfort zone in the best possible ways. For example, they may encourage them to dive into the deep end of the pool or to try talking to someone new.

4. The extended family

The extended family consists of relatives in addition to the immediate family, such as aunts, uncles and cousins, living together in close proximity or in one household. This type of family is particularly common in cultures that are not dominated by the nuclear family construct, as in consanguineous families.

A member of the extended family that steps into parenting roles may experience significant stress from assuming new parental responsibilities, navigating relationship issues with the child’s biological parents and dealing with loyalty issues with other members of the extended family. It is therefore important that a child’s biological fathers and mothers be supportive of this change in their family dynamic.

This study uses logistic multivariate regression models to estimate the association between different measures of paternal involvement and fathers’ leave taking, controlling for mother, child and family-related characteristics. The odds ratios presented represent the likelihood of fathers’ participation in different measures of children-related activities based on the duration of their parental leave.

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