When a home lacks a father, children adjust more poorly socially, have more struggles academically, are more likely to become involved in drugs or gang activity, and more likely to have severe behavioral issues or to develop criminal behaviors. The prevalent statistics bear out the importance of the role of an active and involved father.
Fathers who are in the home are, for the most part, more actively involved in the lives of their children than were fathers in previous eras. Men now hold babies, change diapers, rock children to sleep, and provide more care than there fathers or grandfathers. But babies still react differently to men much of the time, especially tiny babies.
Studies have shown that for the majority of babies, Dad is their favorite person to play with. But when they are sick, hungry, tired, or have emotional needs, they want Mom. And there is nothing wrong with that. Men are much more willing to serve in the role of caregiver now, and tired women the world over applaud that. But babies still respond differently to moms than dads, and it may have a lot to do with that nine months that the baby spent entirely dependent on the mother.
Men have an ability to provide a stabilizing role in the lives of older children, teens especially. They are also able to indicate by example, a respectful and loving attitude toward the mother in the home. That example makes a tremendous difference in how the children treat the mother as they grow.
What is clear, is that while strengths and responses of, and to, men and women, are distinctly different, they are equally important in the life of a child. Without the strong involvement of both in their lives, children experience far more problems.