Who knew? A good dad is indispensable

January 8, 2014

Who knew?

Men and women are different. Mothers and fathers have different and important roles to play in the lives of their children. A family that produces optimal outcomes for children is an intact family of a mother and a father, working hard to keep their marriages together and to be good mothers and fathers.

Well, I suppose nearly everyone knew this until a generation ago.

The conclusions of research like this should be obvious, except they no longer are in our day: when men are often perceived as defective women, or when sociologists and their ideological champions want to minimize differences between the sexes.

Pruett’s argument is that fathers often engage their children in ways that differ from the ways in which mothers engage their children. Yes, there are exceptions, and, yes, parents also engage their children in ways that are not specifically gendered. But there are at least four ways, spelled out in my new book, Gender and Parenthood: Biological and Social Scientific Perspectives (co-edited with Kathleen Kovner Kline), that today’s dads tend to make distinctive contributions to their children’s lives…

Please note that the author isn’t making an argument for bad fathers. In that case, a child does about as well being raised by a single mother. He’s talking about the positive difference made by good dads—or even “good enough” dads (meaning, the bar isn’t necessarily very high). He argues that good dads are indispensable in the following ways: the way they play with children; the way they encourage children to take risks; the way they discipline children; and the way they protect their children’s safety and welfare.

The result of good fathering is that their children have lower rates of delinquency, teen pregnancy, and depression.

Meanwhile, on a related note, theologian Roger Olson continues to confront the crisis of masculinity in our culture in this new blog post.

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