Do Fathers Matter?

Posted on July 3, 2014

Photo: flickr

Now that I have read Paul Raeburn's "Do Fathers Matter?," I know that my comfort with more dangerous play - my willingness to let my daughters stand on top of a minivan - is a typically paternal trait. Dads roughhouse with children more, too. They also gain weight when their wives are pregnant and have an outsize effect on their children's vocabulary. The presence of dads can delay daughters' puberty.

Mr. Raeburn writes that "as recently as a generation ago, in the 1970s, most psychologists" believed that "with regard to infants, especially, fathers were thought to have little or no role to play." When it came to toddlers and older children, too, the great parenting theories of the 20th century placed fathers in the background. Freud famously exalted, or damned, the mother for her influence. John Bowlby's attachment theory, which he developed beginning in the 1940s, focused on the mother or "mother-figure."

Now, there is a growing, but still inadequate, interest in fathers' influence. Some new research explains genetic and epigenetic links that are unique to fathers and their children, while other studies explore the impact of fathers' presence or absence. In many studies, there is no clear divide between the biological and psychological: Being around dads affects children's biology, which in turn affects their mental states, like happiness, and their success in life.

Click on the link below to read the full article


Category(s):Parenting

Source material from New York Times


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