Fathers are Important—For Real!

Fathers play a key role in the development of their children and creating a caring family life. Interested individuals, especially fathers, will benefit from this overview of the characteristics of fathers who are supportive and contribute positive influences to their families. Included is information about how fathers influence their child's development, serve as role models to their children, are partners in parenting with the mothers of their children, need community involvement to succeed as parents, and play many roles and benefit from different experiences.

The following information is provided courtesy of the Texas Cooperative Extension, The Texas A&M University System.

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Fathers are essential to the healthy growth and development of their children.

Dads bring a unique perspective to the family and lives of their children.

Mothers and fathers can love their children by supporting each other as parents.

Fathers have a powerful influence on the healthy development of their daughters and their sons.

  • Babies can distinguish their father's voice from the voice of a stranger by the age of four weeks.
  • School-aged children show significant gains in intellectual development when their fathers are involved with them as infants.
  • Involved fathers enrich their daughter's and son's self image.
  • Children who have involved fathers show more sense of humor, longer attention spans, and more eagerness for learning.
  • Father involvement helps teens to develop a strong sense of who they are and increases their ability to resist peer pressure.

Dads are role models who teach their children to be strong, flexible adults.

  • Fathers teach sex roles: they are generally more physically active with their sons and more protective of their daughters.
  • Fathers often think “out of the box” and offer alternative strategies for problem solving.
  • Dads tend to offer more physical play than mothers, which increases the physical competency of their young children.
  • When fathers model behaviors that are respectful to women, their sons are more likely to see women as human beings rather than “things” to manipulate. But...fathers who abuse their wives, raise sons who are more likely to abuse their wives and children.

Fathers are essential partners who share parenting with the mother of their children.

  • Fathers who interact with their newborn children are usually more likely to support their wife in her new role as mother.
  • As a partner, dads can provide balance and be a sounding board or a compass for the family.
  • Fathers, as an equal parent, can balance the parenting of the mothers through respectful disagreement and healthy support.
  • Fathers and mothers can work together to communicate and reach good decisions that benefit their children.
  • Both fathers and mothers need support as they grow into being parents.

Fathers need commitment from their communities in order to succeed as parents.

  • Communities can provide mentors to guide and support fathers.
  • Fathers need to be recognized for their contributions to the community.
  • Community leaders need to include fathers in decisions that concern their children.
  • Children benefit from learning about the contributions of “average fathers.”
  • Communities can plan father-child activity days.

Fathers are individuals who are growing and changing with experience and across situations.

  • Being a father is only one of many roles that men work to balance.
  • To learn their job as a father, men need room for trial and error.
  • Fathers who recognize their important contribution to the development of their child express more satisfaction with themselves.
  • In a unique way, children expand the range and depth of experiences that fathers have.

Source: T. Berry Brazelton, M.D. (1992). Touchpoints: The Essential References. MA: Perseus Books.

Fathers are Important—For Real! Ladd, Linda D. Ph.D. Texas Cooperative Extension. 2000. English.

Last Reviewed: June 2009

Last Updated: November 13, 2014