We always hear how mothers are important to a child's development. But fathers (or father figures) who are good role models make a big difference too. Supportive fathers can help a child's:
- Intellectual abilities
- Emotional well-being and general health
Studies have shown that children with supportive fathers or father figures are:
More apt to:
- Get better grades in school
- Go to college
- Find stable work after high school
Less apt to:
- Get suspended from school
- Spend time in jail
- Have a teen birth
There are many ways supportive fathers help their child's intellect. Children have lots of questions. Mothers and fathers often answer those questions differently. This helps children see other points of view and be better at solving problems.
Children with two supportive parents can also learn more life skills. For example, mom may help her child with reading or science projects. Dad may teach the child how to play a guitar or fix engines. Mom may be great at helping her child be curious. But a supportive father can add to that child's curiosity.
Emotional Well-being and General Health
Active fathers help children feel more loved. This has a positive impact on their emotions and behavior. Having steady support and love helps children develop higher self-esteem. This can help them make good choices.
How to Be a Supportive Father
You can be supportive even if you are not the child's biological father. Even if you do not live with your child, you can still make a difference.
Being a good father means understanding your children. This includes their activities and their friends. Not sure how to begin? Here are some tips that may help:
- Take time —Do not be too busy to spend time with your child. You may have to give up something, but it will be worth your time.
- Listen —Do this without lecturing or judging the child. If you lecture too much, the child may feel distant from you.
- Be a positive role model —You child is affected by what you say and do. Show positive behaviors and attitudes.
- Respect the child's mother —It gives the child a good example for current and future relationships.
- Show affection —Replace your anger and impatience with love. Do this during play. It helps the child develop and feel secure.
- Be there —Fatherhood is a full-time job. Show up at events, eat dinner together, play, or quietly read a book. Your child notices your presence and your absence.
Being a supportive father is not just good for your child. It is also good for you.
Administration for Children & Families
National Fatherhood Initiative
Canadian Psychiatric Association
Mental Health Canada
Appreciating how fathers give children a head start. Head Start—U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Available at: https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/family-engagement/article/appreciating-how-fathers-give-children-head-start. Accessed June 13, 2021.
5 important ways fathers can impact child development. Child Crisis Arizona website. Available at: https://childcrisisaz.org/5-major-ways-fathers-impact-child-development. Accessed June 13, 2021.
5 things you should know about the importance of fathers. Child and Family Research Partnership—University of Texas website. Available at: https://childandfamilyresearch.utexas.edu/5-things-you-should-know-about-importance-fathers. Accessed June 13, 2021.
The importance of fathers in the healthy development of children. Child Welfare Information Gateway—U.S. Department of Health and Human Sevices website. Aavialble at: https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/usermanuals/fatherhood. Accessed June 13, 2021.
Last reviewed June 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Last Updated: 6/13/2021