Parenting young children — 15 January 2013
Fathers have a crucial role in raising their sons

Fathers’ participation in their children’s day-to-day care has markedly evolved over the past thirty years. As male/female roles within the marriage have changed, men have shared greater childrearing responsibilities and have greatly enhanced their children’s lives.

Research findings document how this shift has benefited boys’ and girls’ development and facilitated their becoming more successful scholastically, emotionally, psychologically, socially and intimately.

Academically: The National Center for Educational Statistics reported, “When fathers were involved in their children’s education, the kids were more likely to get A’s, enjoy school, and participate in extracurricular activities.”

Emotionally: Dr. William Pollock, aHarvard psychologist and author of “Real Boys”found that “Boys require the presence of a father to teach them what it means to be a man and how to manage their emotions. As we have seen, without the guidance and direction of a father, a boy’s frustration often leads to varieties of violence and other antisocial behavior.”

Jill Goldman and Marsha Salus found that rough-and-tumble play with fathers could help boys manage aggressive impulses and teach them to control their emotions during excitation.

Psychologically: Eirini Flouri and Ann Buchanan reported, “Early father involvement (before age 7) had an important protective role against psychological maladjustment and distress later in life.”

Howard Dubowitz and associates found that “children who have close relationships with their fathers have a higher self-esteem and are less likely to be depressed.”

Psychologist Melanie Mallers, a stress health researcher discovered that “Men who are more likely to be in a bad mood and have higher levels of psychological stress – are the men who reported having had poor relationships with their father in childhood.” She concluded, “What men can do for boys, the way they play with them, the way they talk with them, the way they teach them to be assertive, the way they teach them to problem solve, has profound lasting implications.”

Socially: The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found that “children living in two-parent families who had only a fair or poor relationship with their fathers were at 68 percent higher risk of smoking, drinking, and drug usage than teens having a good or excellent relationship with dads.”

Intimately: Jeffrey Rosenberg and W. Bradford Wilcox research findings state, “Fathers’ affectionate treatment of their infants contributed to the babies’ higher levels of secure attachment.” This capacity enables the youngsters to form healthy relationships with friends and eventually with their future mates.

Researcher Paul Amato summarized, “Father/child shared time increased self-esteem, confidence, social competence and life skills.”

With all these benefits, fathers are privileged to have the power to enrich their sons, themselves and society as they enjoy the thrill of parenting their youngsters.


  • Honor the privilege of fathering and raising your sons.
  • Do so reverently knowing that your fathering skills can help mold your son to become a wholesome, healthy, loving man and a joy to all as he ably raises his sons.



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About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

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