The role of dads in the home has been steadily shifting over recent decades; not all are necessarily opting out of the workforce to become stay-at-home parents, but there’s a growing awareness that raising kids – in all its ideological and practical facets – requires both Mum and Dad to be hands-on.
A new study bears out this exact thinking, revealing that children’s mental and behavioural development is significantly impacted by their fathers’ moods.
(No pressure, Pops.)
According to research by Michigan State University, not only do fathers have more influence on their sons’ language skills (a prime example of kids’ instinctive gender role-modelling), but most significantly, male parents’ depressive symptoms while their children are toddlers have a much stronger effect on developing social skills than mothers’ symptoms.
The summation, articulated in the paper published in Early Childhood Research Quarterly, is thus:
“The findings contribute to the small but growing collection of research affirming the effects of fathers’ characteristics and father-child relationship qualities on children’s social development, rather than just the fathers’ residence in the home or presence in the child’s life.”
The results of this study will undoubtedly add to the pressure of parenting, but the upside is that, beyond Dad’s long held, stereotypical breadwinning figurehead status, the importance of his actual interactions in family life is unequivocally validated.