A Father's Critical Role in Childhood Development

Even though Father's Day is over, experts are saying that it is critical to recognize the roles dads play in a young children's lives every day of the year. While it is common understanding that children should primarily be cared for by mothers, fathers are just as well-equipped to be effective parents.

"It is a pretty well-accepted fact that we have not supported paternal engagement to the extent that would be helpful to our children," said Kyle Pruett, a clinical professor of Child Psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine in an interview with Salon.

Children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure, have better social connections and greater career success. "There's a quite a bit of research that's come out that shows that an active and involved father can have a really positive impact on a young child's physical, behavioral and emotional development," stated Francisco Oaxaca, director of public affairs with First 5 L.A. First 5 L.A. is a non-profit dedicated to funding health, safety, and early education programs for children prenatal to age 5.

W. Bradford Wilcov, the director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia published an article last week in The Atlantic on the distinctive contributions dads tend to make to their children's lives. Some of his conclusions: Fathers encourage risk, protect their children from threats in the larger environments and children who have a high-quality relationship with dad are less likely to suffer from depression.

According to Pruett, even if children don't have a biological father available, "they make a very strong bid towards someone that the mother will allow in their lives to get some fathering -- that roughhousing and exposure to real world frustrations that they seem to be able to use in their lives."

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