The Importance of Dads

He’s the one who teaches us how to throw a football; the one who guides us as we build a birdhouse; the one who takes us to Dairy Queen after school; the one who pushes us to get straight As, but loves us even when we don’t: He’s Dad.

Dad. Daddy. Papa. Pops. Daddy-O. Whatever you call him, he’s important. A study conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that dads play an integral role in a child’s development. From higher IQs to higher self-esteem, dads who encourage success and take time with their children provide a foundation for achievement and self-worth. Moms and dads both provide different approaches to growth and parenting. W. Bradford Wilcox suggests that dads tend to encourage rough-housing and risk, while also being protective and disciplinary.

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The Father Effect study highlights the unique role of a father figure. The importance of a mindful, attentive, and engaging father begins at conception (there are some studies that show a link between negative habits shortly before conception and the outcome of baby). Some dads get discouraged for the first few months. The author of “The Science of Dad and the ‘Father Effect’” recounted that he knew his baby looked at him in “pretty much the same way he lights up for puppies, apples, and rice cakes.” He encourages dads to have hope, and understand that this phase will fade.

There is a difference between passing time with your child and spending time with your child. Watching TV next to your child, the Father Effect suggests, does not have the same lasting effects as being engaging and attentive. The study suggests that dads take the time during menial activities like dinner prep, chores, or homework, to have thoughtful conversations. 

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You won’t find a study that tells you that having a good dad is bad for you; however, many omit the possibility of any family type other than a nuclear family. Father figures can come from many places. Whether it’s a biological dad or a stepdad or close grandpa, when a father figure steps in and steps up, the child can succeed to its fullest potential. Organizations like the National Fatherhood Initiative aims at encourages these steady bonds.

Anyone can be a father, but it takes effort and patience and love to be a dad.

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