The Science of Fatherhood

Parents in general play a major role in a child’s development, but recent studies and reviews show that a father’s participation has a major impact on a child’s behavior; specifically their self-esteem and overall psychological adjustment within society.


Despite decades of assumptions to the contrary, a father’s role can be incredibly influential in their child’s development.  In fact, a review of 24 of the best studies of father involvement performed by

Researchers at Uppsala University presented some very persuasive findings. They found that there were a multitude of social and psychological benefits resulting from a father’s engagement with his children. Those children who had fathers that played with them, read to them, and interacted frequently with them had fewer behavioral problems in their early education along with less delinquency and criminal behavior as adolescents. In addition, among the prematurely born, children whose fathers cared for them had higher IQs.

Studies also show that fathers may play a significant role in their children’s ability to persevere. According to a study performed at Brigham Young University, researchers found that fathers who exhibit above-average levels of authoritative parenting tend to rear children that are much more likely to be persistent. This manner of authoritative parenting is characterized by a warm, loving demeanor with strict adherence to the rules backed by appropriate support and freedom. As a result, the child’s increase in persistence leads to better school engagement and less delinquency.

There have been a great many studies conducted that focus on the benefit of a father’s involvement in the rearing of their children, resulting in a large amount of literature on the subject. In a compilation of research evidence on the effects of father involvement, researchers at the University of Guelph, Ontario found the following supporting evidence for children of involved fathers:

  • They are higher academic achievers.

  • They are more competent problem solvers.

  • They are more adaptive and resourceful.

  • They are more playful and skillful.

  • They have a higher level of self-acceptance in addition to personal and social adjustment.

  • They are more attentive when presented a problem.

  • They are likely to score higher on standardized tests.

  • They are more likely to enjoy and engage in school and extracurricular activities.

  • They are more likely to have higher levels of economic and educational achievement.

  • They experience higher levels of life satisfaction.

  • They are more stress and crisis tolerant, and exhibit better self-control.

  • As young adults they are more likely to exhibit higher self-acceptance.

  • They have more positive peer relations and greater popularity.

  • They are more likely to have positive interactions with their siblings.

  • They are more likely to exhibit tolerant and empathetic behavior.

  • They are more likely to be morally mature.

In contrast, children without engaged and invested fathers experience fewer of these benefits, leading to more antisocial and delinquent behavior, less empathy, lower life satisfaction, decreased perseverance, lower academic achievement, and a greater chance of depression and substance abuse, to name a few.  

Enough data has been gathered to make the compelling argument that society and the government at large should begin to place an increased emphasis on the positive impact that a father’s presence has in the successful rearing of a child. It is clearly evident that father engagement has a significant impact on a child’s cognitive development as well as their social and emotional well-being.

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One Response to The Science of Fatherhood

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