Do you want healthier, more confident and well-behaved children? Then they need fathers who are present in their upbringing, according to a fleet of research
1. The children will be healthier
The loss of a father through death or divorce could raise the risk of serious illness in later life, new research suggests.
A study of 5,000 young people found a father’s absence damages telomeres – vital pieces of DNA that protect cells. Having an absent father through divorce shortened telomeres by 14 per cent, while a death shortened them by 16 per cent. Shortened telomeres have been linked to premature aging and cancer.
Researchers from Princeton University posited that the stress suffered by children with absent fathers was the cause of their shortened telomeres.
2. The children will end up with higher IQs
Yes, regardless of your own intelligence (or lack of it), just being involved in your child’s life will result in them being smarter and more prosperous. That’s according to academics at the University of Newcastle, anyway.
A study in 2008 looked at more than 11,000 British fifty year-olds, and found that those whose fathers had been heavily involved in their childhoods had higher IQ scores. They were also more socially mobile.
“What was surprising about this research was the real sizeable difference in the progress of children who benefited from paternal interest and how thirty years later, people whose dads were involved are more upwardly mobile,” said Dr Daniel Nettle, the lead researcher, said.
3. You’ll be happier at work
A study published by The Academy of Management Perspectives in 2015 suggested that working fathers who spend more time with their children will have greater levels of job satisfaction than those that don’t. The report went on to state that men who pay attention to their families will become less focused on their work, but not to the detriment of their careers.
The findings, which resulted from an online survey of nearly 1,000 working dads, provide an argument for workplaces placing a greater emphasis on matters such as paternity leave, flexible hours and childcare facilities.
“Organizations need to recognize fatherhood, support fathers through formal programs like flexible work arrangements and through informal means, not questioning a man who comes in late and leaves early if he gets his work done,” stated Beth K. Humberd, a co-author of the study and assistant professor of management at University of Massachusetts.
4. Your child will have improved self-esteem
The more time a child spends with the fathers, both alone and as part of a group, the greater confidence they grow up with. A study conducted by academics at Pennsylvania State University in 2012 followed the fortunes of 200 families, finding that children with involved fathers “may develop higher general self-worth because their fathers go beyond social expectations to devote undivided attention to them.”
As the first and primary male influence on your children, it’s essential fathers set a positive example of how they should expect to be treated by men in the future – and how they should behave towards women. Naturally, this is especially important for the fathers of girls.
“The effect that fathers have on daughters is extremely strong, even more so than for boys. When fathers interact with their daughters, those girls have higher self-esteem and go on to succeed,” said Dr. Obie Clayton, professor of sociology at Morehouse College.
6. Your children could get in less trouble
It may be a cultural cliché, but there is significant evidence that the children of fatherless homes are more likely to have disciplinary issues later in life.
These children also are less likely to get in trouble at home, school, or in the neighborhood. Infants who receive high levels of affection from their fathers (e.g., babies whose fathers respond quickly to their cries and who play together) are more securely attached.”
The issue is particularly piqued in the US, where 90 per cent of homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes, according to the Bureau of the Census, while 71 per cent of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes.
7. You’ll get better at multitasking
It’s long been known that a woman’s brain changes when she has children, but research conducted by Yale University in 2014 showed that there are chemical change’s in a man’s too.
Men who are involved with their child early on adapt to fatherhood, it found, with an expansion in grey matter in some areas and shrinking in other, less important ways. When it comes to emotional response and multitasking, for instance, the newly rewired brain improves. Memory, on the other hand, suffers.
“These early father-infant interactions and emotional bonding become the basis of the father-infant attachment, which has a long-lasting impact on cognitive functions and social attachment for offspring,” stated the study, published in the journal Social Neuroscience.
“The findings may thus lead to the identification of specific brain regions of potential importance for early father-infant attachment.”
8. Babies can hear you more clearly
You might think your children never listen to you, but they’ve actually been all ears for longer than you think. That’s because the male voice, as a lower tone, travels further and can thus be heard in the womb. It’s possible, then, that a father and baby can bond long before they meet as the baby instantly recognises the sound of your voice. Just look at this video for evidence: