You might have long felt that having a loving, involved dad in a child’s life was a great thing. And now there is lots of science to back that up.
Studies now show that kids who have engaged dads in their lives have a lower chance of going to jail, are less likely to participate in high-risk behaviors1, have a greater chance of growing up to have more fulfilling and financially stable jobs, have higher IQ scores2, and show stronger cognitive development.3 Kids with involved dads also have a lower risk of depression.4 It’s called the “Dad Effect,” and researchers are looking more closely than ever at the importance of having a father figure in a child’s life.
There are also a number of benefits to being a dad. First up is that being a dad will probably mean you will receive higher compensation in your career. Jonathan Cowan and resident scholar Dr. Elaine Karmack write in their work on fatherhood in the United States, “For most men the fact of fatherhood results in a wage bonus.”5 Fatherhood also means good things for your physical health. A Stanford University School of Medicine study showed that dads are 17 percent less likely to die from heart disease. A Swedish study showed that dads tend to live longer than men without families.6 While fatherhood does come with its own unique set of stressors, being a dad does have important health benefits.
These are all tremendous advantages for having an involved father in children’s lives. And there are challenges when a dad isn’t around. Studies which have looked at the long term effects of not having a dad in the family experience, which reveal a host of challenges that are elevated when dad is not around.7
While the impact of not having a father figure in a child’s life is sobering, there is good news: even if a child’s father isn’t involved in their life, the presence of someone who is seen as something of a father figure still makes a big difference.
What are the takeaways? Dads, you matter. By being involved in your kids’ lives, you set them up for a better future and you reap the career and health benefits of fatherhood as well. As we celebrate Father’s Day this year, further advances in research tell a clear story: a father makes a critical impact in his children’s lives. Dads, for all you do and all you are, Happy Father’s Day!