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The Role of Fathers in Child-Rearing

By Amanda Hermes ; Updated June 13, 2017

Although the mom is often a child's first and primary caregiver, as a father, you are also immensely important in raising a well-adjusted, happy and successful child. Moms and dads bring different strengths and styles as parents, and these roles complement each other. Kids need love, support, and involvement from both their parents.

Benefits Dads Bring

Children whose fathers are involved in their everyday lives have better social development, self-esteem and chances of academic success, according to Christine Langlois, author of “Raising Great Kids." This may be because your role as a father in child-rearing is different from your partner's, or because children benefit from having the increased attention and interest from both of you. The best predictor of this involvement is the amount of quality time you spend one-on-one with your kids. Children whose dads are actively involved usually also have better language skills and fewer behavioral problems, writes Kristen Finello from "Parents" magazine.

Boys and Their Dads

You play a special role in the lives of your sons, modeling what it’s like to be a man, Langlois writes. Show your boys how to have dignity, integrity and respect for others. This can help your boys to grow into responsible, caring men who are good fathers themselves. Boys who have involved dads are less likely to commit crimes when they get older, according to Finello, and boys who admired and wanted to emulate their dads scored higher on tests of personal moral judgment, moral values and rule-following, reports the Institute for the Study of Civil Society, or Civitas. Boys who did not identify with their dads showed reluctance to accept responsibility for actions, had problems with self-control, and acted more aggressively at school.

Daddy's Girls

You can also help your daughters develop their sense of what it means to be a woman, according to Langlois. A woman's relationship with men seems to be based on her relationship with her dad, the first male in her life. Your daughters learn from you that they are worthy of being loved by a man. You are also the model of how a man should treat women. Girls whose dads are less involved tend to have more mental health problems later in life, Finello reports . When you praise your daughter, she is more likely to develop independence and confidence.

Babies and Toddlers

You can influence your baby's social confidence by being the first “stranger” your baby encounters, Langlois suggests. Infants regard their mother as an extension of their own body, but you are altogether different. So a strong bond between you and your baby can help establish good social relationships later on. Primary school children usually show more empathy for others if they experienced secure attachments to their fathers during infancy, according to Civitas. Most dads have a more boisterous and physical way of playing with their babies and toddlers than moms do, and this can encourage problem solving, physical development and exploration. You can serve as an example of how to interact socially. When you're affectionate and helpful with your little ones, they'll be more likely to get along with siblings and playmates.

Older Children

Dads often encourage their kids to take chances in situations where moms would urge more caution or intervene, according to Langlois. You likely tend to believe that your kids are more physically capable, which leads them to overcome challenges and have higher self-esteem. Kids whose fathers did basic things like asking them what they learned at school that day, reading to them, going on outings or inquiring about their day-to-day activities are more successful academically, Finello states. If you exhibit a strong commitment to your family, you'll provide a model of responsible behavior for your children. The level of a father’s involvement in a child’s studies predicts academic success, according to Civitas. If both you and your partner value education, a child is more likely to value it and take it seriously, and this can lead to success in the career world later on. Kids with supportive dads usually also have fewer behavioral problems and seem better able to get along with others and control emotions.

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