New Research Shows Fathering Provides Long-Term Benefits for Kids, Unique From Mothering


Sue Shellenbarger in the Wall Street Journal with good news for dads - and marriage! - for Father's Day:

As an estimated 70.1 million fathers prepare to celebrate Father's Day in the U.S., recent research shows that their distinct style of parenting is particularly worth recognition: The way dads tend to interact has long-term benefits for kids, independent of those linked to good mothering.

... Fathers' impact on kids' behavior may begin as early as infancy, a 2009 analysis in Behavioral and Brain Sciences suggests. Mothers tend to keep their babies calm, gazing at them, babbling together and affectionately touching them, based on video analyses of mothers and fathers interacting with their 5-month-old infants. In contrast, fathers tend to get the babies more excited and laughing, often playing physical games that startle or arouse them.

The differences persist as children grow older. Research shows that mothers of older children tend to talk more with their children about their frustrations, while fathers may try to distract a child and encourage him or her to move on. Another reason involved fathers help kids, of course, is that families often function better when two parents are working as a team to give children what they need, supporting each other's efforts.