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Effective Parenting

Involved fathers provide practical support in raising children and serve as models for their development. Children with involved, loving fathers are significantly more likely to do well in school, have healthy self-esteem, exhibit empathy and pro-social behavior compared to children who have uninvolved fathers.  Committed and responsible fathering during infancy and early childhood contributes emotional security, curiosity, and math and verbal skills.

Father with daughter.

Positive Influence

Children who live with their biological fathers are, on average, at least two to three times more likely not to be poor, less likely to use drugs, less likely to experience educational, health, emotional and behavioral problems, less likely to be victims of child abuse, and less likely to engage in criminal behavior than their peers who live without their married, biological (or adoptive) parents.  These differences are observed even after controlling for socioeconomic variables such as race and income.  

Father Involvement in Head Start and Early Head Start

The father studies increase our understanding of how fathers and mothers, in the context of the family, influence infant and toddler development. The Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Project assessed how programs worked with low-income families to enhance children's development and well-being, but data collection originally centered on mothers as the primary source of information. The father research enables us to learn more about how programs support fathers' relationships with their children and with the children's mother.

Father Involvement in the Lives of their Children

The Child Care Resource Center (ACF) has compilied a list of materials that shows when both parents are actively and positively involved in their children’s lives, children are more likely to lead healthy, productive lives. Over the past several years, many initiatives have been started to foster the positive involvement of fathers with their children. The following resources provide a sample of information on father involvement. The first section lists publications that have information on research and on strategies that relate to father involvement in the education of their children. The second section has information on publications that have explored father involvement in Head Start and Early Head Start programs. The third section has general information about involvement of fathers in the care and support of their children. The last section lists Federal agencies and national organizations that provide resources on fatherhood issues, including father support referrals, parenting, child custody, and research.

Fathers and Children's Health

Fathers can have an important influence on children’s mental and physical health. Children in two parent families are more likely to have access to private health insurance. Children in two parent families are likely to use more preventative and illness-related ambulatory care than single parent families even after income and health insurance is taken into account. Fathers warmth and closeness to their children appears to affect health status many years later.

Father Involvement in Child Welfare

There is a growing interest the fathers and their relationship to various child welfare issues. Historically, fathers were often overlooked by the child welfare system when children were in the sole care of the mother and few studies examined fathers’ involvement in child abuse and neglect cases or the impact of family violence on children.

Child Abuse & Neglect Information

What are the signs or symptoms of child abuse or neglect?

Just as there are various types of abuse and neglect, the symptoms of abuse and neglect may vary from child to child. 

Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) Reports

Nurturing Parenting Programs
OJJDP,  November 2000  (12 pages).
Child abuse and neglect are tragic realities within millions of families worldwide. Each day children are abandoned, neglected, beaten, tortured, mutilated, sexually molested, starved, and terrorized. Sadly, violence toward children is not a new phenomenon; it is deeply rooted in cultural and religious values.
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Teenage Fatherhood and Delinquent Behavior
OJJDP,  January 2000  (8 pages).
Boys who become teenage fathers are also likely to engage in a constellation of other problem behaviors such as noncriminal misbehavior (status offending), disruptive school behavior, and drug use.  Teenagers who engage in delinquent acts and other problem behaviors create immediate consequences for themselves and for those around them, but when they also father children, there may be serious repercussions for many years to come, even for generations.
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Last Revised:  July 25, 2011

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