October 2, 2017

Well known: A warm relationship between a father and his child portends a good outcome for the child as he grows up. A child is less likely to have behavioral problems if their father is present and emotionally warm. Boys often want to be like their fathers if the father is close to the child emotionally.

Not well known: The old masculine male archetype was thought to induce the same attitude in a male offspring. However, research has shown that it is not likely to produce the same behavior in a child despite the masculine parenting style. Boys, it turns out are innately masculine or not.

What is a father's role in this parenting dyad?

Fathers have a strong influence on a child's risk taking and confidence development. This is primarily based on the fact that father's are more likely to let their children explore the world and take risks.

Fathers also advance a young child's language because they are more likely to use a broader vocabulary than a mother. This is is thought to be due to the fact that mothers spend more time with their child and know their vocabulary level. Fathers on the other hand do not perceive this level and throw out all kinds of words challenging the child and thereby increasing their vocabulary. Fathers also spend less time with their children which increases their novelty. This inadvertently has the child paying close attention to the father and therefore improving learning. (This I have found is a common frustration for mothers who devote so much time and love to a child)

Children often see their fathers as playmates and respond as infants very happily to being picked up knowing that it is playtime. "Fathers often use objects in an incongruous way," writes Daniel Paquette of the University of Montreal. Fathers tend to "destabilize children both emotionally and cognitively". Fathers are more random in their activities which forces a child to learn to deal with the unexpected. This can have profound benefits for a child in school as they learn to navigate a school teacher and peer interactions.

Learning by being challenged is a constant in many studies regarding childhood growth. Fathers by nature are more likely to let their child fall and get back up. When a child is near the water about to jump in, psychologists have noted that a mother will stand in front and to the side to have eye contact in an attitude of protection and safety. Fathers on the other hand are more likely to stand behind a child stating to the child "you can do this" "take a risk".

The parenting differences between a mother and father stimulate the child's mental grow in different ways. Hence the difficulty that arises in a single parent home. The child is missing one half of the parenting dyad for education.

It is imperative that as a society we continue to push for a two parent home. We need the yin and yang of the masculine/feminine rearing styles. The research continues to show the independent benefit of both.

Dr. M

Sourced from Do Fathers Matter? by Paul Raeburn