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How important is fatherhood in children's lives?


Fathers matter. Whether you are a biological father, a father figure, or an adoptive father, your role is one of the most important relationships of your children. The impact you have lasts a lifetime. 

Fatherhood comes with a different set of stressors, happiness, and experiences. The roles of fathers also change depending on their level of involvement in child rearing. Some fathers provide support emotionally, socially, financially, or physically. In addition, how society views fatherhood has undergone radical changes in the past decades.  

Evolution of fatherhood

From being moral teachers and family patriarchs in the colonial period, fathers became the sole and primary provider of financial resources in the family during the industrial age.

 In recent times, fathers started to be viewed as co-nurturers together with their spouse, with society seeing more fathers who were fully engaged in family life. Nowadays as women become active in the workplace, we see fathers who share almost similar roles to their spouses in parenting their children.

In fact, recent Pew research has found that 77% of American moms and dads think parenting should be equally shared by fathers and mothers while both of the parents also work.

The benefits of a father’s presence and involvement in children’s development

Although motherhood is more widely researched than fatherhood, recent data have supported the idea that fathers and their involvement play an important role in their children’s growth and development. 

When fathers are more involved in child-rearing, children develop a strong foundation for well-being.

Physically, there is lower risk for: 

  • infant mortality and low birth weight
  • Injury
  • Obesity

Emotionally and mentally, there is a lower chance of: 

  • Emotional and behavioral struggles
  • Poor school performance
  • Alcohol and substance abuse
  • Criminal activity
  • Suicide

The benefits of stronger attachments in children carry on until adulthood. Involvement in daily care that includes play time and feeding encourages stronger bonds between fathers and their children. 

Strong attachments are associated with increased confidence, having friends, and better school performance. Increased play time has also been associated with higher intelligence and social skills. 

Ways for fathers to become more involved

Now that we know how life-changing fathers and their involvement are in children’s lives, fathers can find ways to become active participants in parenting. 

1. Be present for doctor’s visits as much as possible. It is a wonderful time to share the moment seeing the baby’s heartbeat and their growth during visits to the Ob/Gyne. It increases the bond between you and the child even before they are born. 

2. Work out with your partner how you can take an active role in taking care of your child. Now with baby preparation classes and the information you can get from reliable resources online, fathers can learn things like changing diapers, giving baths and soothing a baby when it cries. It increases the father’s connection with his baby. This alleviates the mom’s stress and they feel supported too! 

3. Learn about ways you can support your children from their early childhood to their adolescence. Your role as a father might change as your children grow up. For example, research has shown that when fathers praise their children, they tend to do well academically, and experience fewer mental health issues. If this is something you are not confident about, learn more by talking to and learning from family counselors, social workers or from good resources online. 

Fatherhood is fulfilling, yet challenging. If it becomes overwhelming, consider learning from role models in your life who can advise you on fatherhood. Take classes, or ask for professional help if necessary. Lastly, enjoy the journey of fatherhood! You matter. 

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How important is fatherhood in children's lives?
Brandon Resasco