Good Fathers Are Vital For Optimal Child Development – Report

Media Release 31 August 2018
As part of the celebration of Father’s Day this year, Family First NZ has released a unique and important report entitled “Why Fathers Matter”. The report provides a diverse and abundant body of leading research conducted over the past 50 years from the worlds of professional child psychology and child-development science and argues that no society can thrive without as many fathers as possible being involved daily in the lives of their children.

This report is part two of a two-part series, following on from a report focusing on mothers – “Why Mothers Matter” – released in May on Mother’s Day.

The report’s author Glenn Stanton says that it is important that dads themselves, as well as mums, grandparents, teachers, policy makers, church leaders, pediatricians, government bodies, and police know why and how fathers matter, not just in the lives of their families, but in society itself.

“Fathers are important because they are not mothers. Research shows that infants can determine the difference between mum and dad caring and playing with them from the first weeks of life, simply because mum and dad do these tasks differently,” says the author.

“This is the child’s first and perhaps most important lesson about being human: that there are two types of human beings in the world, male and female, each with wonderful and very distinct qualities. A balance between mum’s and dad’s ways is vital for healthy child development.”

Other differences in parenting include how mum and dad prepare their children for life, the way fathers play and communicate with their children, how they discipline (more black and white), and how they teach respect for the opposite sex. But the report also notes that children have an impact on their father, including interesting and consequential changes to the physicality of the dad, and also changes in his brain and hormones, even before the birth of his child.

“No society can have too many dads, but every society can certainly have too few – and suffer irreversible harm because of it. A fatherless family is one that walks with a substantial limp up a difficult incline. Single mums know this all too well. The three Ps of society know this better than anyone: Police, Principals, and Pediatricians. The presence of the father reduces crime rates, helps the children do and behave better at school, and protects them from physical and emotional problems like no one else. When we disregard the importance of fathers, society suffers.”

The report calls on the community to honour fathers, encourage them in their parenting tasks, and do all it can to make sure that every boy and girl, as much as possible, grows up with the irreplaceable benefit of being loved and cared for every day by his or her own father. Any public policy or community attitude that moves us away from this must be judged as contrary to the best and most reliable science on human development.

(The author Glenn Stanton is the Director of Global Family Formation Studies at Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs and holds a graduate degree in Interdisciplinary Humanities from the University of West Florida with an emphasis in philosophy and history. He has been working professionally as a respected researcher in the field of sexuality and gender for nearly 25 years. He is the author of seven books on various aspects of marriage and family, and authored the first report in this series “Why Mothers Matter”.)