Are men needed to raise children? No. Just ask single mothers.
Are Dads easily dispensable? Also a "no." And research shows it.
Bradford Wilcox wrote a fascinating and insight article for The Atlantic -- The Distinct, Positive Impact of a Good Dad. He acknowledges that mothers and fathers both play crucial roles, that go beyond cultural expectations.
"Fathers often engage their children in ways that differ from the ways in which mothers engage their children. Yes, there are exceptions, and, yes, parents also engage their children in ways that are not specifically gendered."
Specifically, there are four contributions that are distinctively (though not exclusively) from fathers:
- Play. "Fathers typically spend more of their time engaged in vigorous play than do mothers, and play a uniquely physical role in teaching their sons and daughters how to handle their bodies and their emotions."
- Risk. "Fathers are more likely to encourage their children to take risks, embrace challenges, and be independent, whereas mothers are more likely to focus on their children's safety and emotional well-being."
- Protection. "Fathers . . . appear to be more successful in keeping predators and bad peer influences away from their sons and daughters."
- Discipline. "Fathers tend to be more willing than mothers to confront their children and enforce discipline. . . . By contrast, mothers are more likely to reason with their children, to be flexible in disciplinary situations, and to rely on their emotional ties to a child to encourage her to behave. . . . Mothers and fathers working together as co-parents offer a diverse yet balanced approach to discipline."
Note that this author is not saying that fathers are more important than mothers, or vice versa. The point is that there is a unique contribution that each has the potential to bring.
Wilcox concludes the article by showing specific effects that good days have, with respect to the child's behavior and actions. This data matches up perfectly with what I have been learning, and which I've written about here:
- Feeling the Pain of a Fatherless Generation: Angry Boys
- Feeling the Pain of a Fatherless Generation: Forgotten Fairy Tales
Dads and Moms alike -- keep giving your children what they need, in the unique way that God has made you.
- The Father Effect [Video]
- What God Expects from Me as a Dad
- Does God Ordain Specific Roles in the Family?
- After Father's Day . . .
- 2 Great Videos for Father's Day
- What Dads Need to Tell and Do With Their Children
**image courtesy of thefixer via flickr and The Atlantic