Dads Do Make a Difference

Most kids agree that having dad around the house is a definite plus — even if he doesn’t always live at home. Given the variety of home environments and parenting styles experienced by children of the ’90s, there’s no doubt the ones who spend time with Dad reap bigtime benefits.

And new evidence suggests that the more nesting a father does with his child, the smarter that child will be.

The proof comes from research recently published in Child Development that says fathers who spend time with their children raise kids with better language skills and fewer behavior problems.

“As we head into the next century, we’re finding that the traditional family model of a married couple with kids and a dog is becoming less common. Added involvement from a father helps children tremendously,” says Maureen Black, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

A father’s unique contributions were measured by a team of researchers who studied 175 3-year-old children from low-income African American families. A father figure was present in 73 percent of the families, and almost all these men had daily contact with their children.

Throughout the study, fathers and mothers were videotaped separately playing with their children and then asked individually about their contributions to the family and about how they felt about being parents.

The study revealed that fathers who were satisfied parents contributed financially to the family and were nurturing while playing with their kids. Their children had higher cognitive and language skills.

When a father lived with the child, the household was more focused on child rearing.

Results of the study convinced authors that fathers remain an integral part of every child’s well-being.

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