Children in families without fathers in the home are not doomed to failure, or anything close to that. So concludes an article in Scientific American Mind, “Where’s Dad,” by Paul Raeburn of the Knight Science Journalism Tracker, and author of Do Fathers Matter?: What Science Is Telling Us About the Parent We’ve Overlooked.
However, as the article also noted, “The discovery of the father is one of the most important developments in the study of children and families. Our failure to address the question of fathers’ value is more than simply a matter of academic bickering.”
Fathers make unique contributions to their children. “Fatherhood is about helping children become happy and healthy adults, at ease in the world, and prepared to become fathers (or mothers) themselves.”
Fathers are disappearing: fewer dads are participating in the lives of their children now than at any time since the U.S. began keeping records. This shift matters because the effects of a missing father can be profound . . . .
Mothers today continue to perform the majority of primary caregiving tasks (feeding, bathing, comforting) notes science journalist Roni Jacobsonin her Scientific American Mind article, “Build Your Own Family.” Fathers tend to take part in supplementary activities, such as play, which matters less to survival than to cognitive development. For that, the quality of a father’s involvement appears to matter more than the quantity.