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Fathers Matter: Research Affirms Common Sense

By on June 17, 2012

A summary study, The Effects of Father Involvement reinforces the case for more, not less father involvement in the lives of children, especially youth of color.

A strong case can be made that good mothers are “biologically driven” to ensure their children are looked after properly, and a “father’s instinct – likely comes more slowly and less automatically. Maybe it’s connected to mother’s carrying a child to term, creating a bond men don’t naturally possess. And with the crisis of black children in America, we need more males (not just biological dads) to make a decision to get involved.

Where is that damn village I’ve been hearing so much about?

A mother has to make a decision NOT TO BE INVOLVED in the life of their child.  Often mothers don’t have as much support as they did in the past so it’s a smart thing for a mother to encourage and support her partner’s involvement. Even if the parents are not together romantically, there is a need for both to invest in the long-term care and guidance of their offspring. Who wants the state or the penal system to raise a child you brought into the world. The village still matters– and that includes dads, mentors, uncles, brothers, neighbors, etc.

One of the most important roles a father (or partner) can play is sharing the load of raising children with the mother, says University of Toronto psychologist professor Joan Grusec.

“Children of involved fathers are more likely to enjoy school, have better attitudes toward school, participate in extracurricular activities, and graduate. They are also less likely to fail a grade, have poor attendance, or have behaviour problems at school.”

Father involvement helps protect children from delinquent behavior and associated with less substance abuse among adolescents (Coombs & Landsverk, 1988), less delinquency (Zimmerman et al., 1995), less drug use, truancy, and stealing (Barnes, 1984), less drinking (Harris et al., 1998),and a lower frequency of externalizing and internalizing symptoms such as acting out, disruptive behaviour, depression, sadness and lying (Mosley & Thompson, 1995).

Adolescents who strongly identified with their fathers were 80% less likely to have been in jail and 75% less likely to have become unwed parents. Those are statistics worth listening to. So for this day and all the ones to come, mothers and fathers, be mindful that your consistent presence or frequent absence from your child’s life can impact them greatly– positively or negatively.


  1. Staff Contributor

    June 18, 2012 at 1:46 am

    Agreed. It gives “family planning” a whole new meaning. It’s critical to consider the sexual partner today could be a co-parent in 9 months. Plan accordingly.

  2. Kazi

    June 17, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    Timely article issue Walker. Probably the #1 issue around black social health.

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