The Significance of Fathers’ Involvement in Child Development

Child Development

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Parenting is habitually associated with the psychological and physiological development of children. Although it is, research on the parenting of fathers has received limited received research. The emphasis on the role of father figures today is inadequate… There are countless motives behind the reason fathers should have a large influence on children’s psychological outcomes (Flouri, 2008). To begin with, for countless reasons a significant number of children in the US live without their natal fathers or father figures. Based on the US Census Bureau (2011), 36% of children are living without their biological fathers. In many situations, fathers are often not in the same home or are completely out of the children’s lives. Extensive research has revealed that being an absent dad is linked to grander jeopardy of adverse implications for children (Carlson, 2006). The nonexistence of fathers is a major issue worldwide that children have to deal with, thus resulting in various disadvantages. Over time, the injurious implications of father absenteeism have been acknowledged in recent research. They include an amplified risk of poverty, criminal involvement, substance abuse, and trouble with development. 

 In recognition of the significant role fathers play by in the development and welfare of a child, this study, focuses on fathers, particularly African-American and their involvement with children. Its bottom line is to strengthen and upkeep the starring role of Black American dads in their kids’ development. In the literature review, the paper seeks to establish any real evidence supporting the exclusive importance of fathers in the growing and advancement of their children. 

Literature Review 

The sources detailed are empirical studies regarding father involvement in the development of their progenies. The articles were accessed through the Google scholar academic database. Other instrumental academic libraries sorted include EBSCOhost, ProQuest, the web of science, first search, and academic search premier. The search strategy was facilitated by multiple keywords such as dads, fathers and father involvement. The search was later intensified to include complex keywords such as “The Significance of Fathers’ Involvement in Child Development.” Over 100 relevant search results were established. Upon sorting, however, 15 studies were particular to the research question.

Unfortunately, contemporary African-American society places little value on the significance of father figures. No wonder, more than 50% of African American children are brought up by single mothers. Nevertheless, a considerable body of evidence from the media, pop culture to government policies tells that fatherhood is paramount.

Large amounts of evidence from literature direct that a father performs a significant role in the development of their children (Lawrence et al., 2012; Shannon et al., 2006). According to Peterson (2014), participating in father-figure impacts positively to the siblings through physical and emotional well-being. This is through reduced apprehension, grief, and sadness, which is reflected through language development, improved interaction, academic excellence, and inclusive children games. Therefore, a father’s involvement during childhood is obligatory.

The 3 important aspects of dad involvement include Engagement, Availability and Responsibility or duty. Building on the assertion, Palkovitz (2014) enumerated 15 discrete customs of father involvement:

  • Being available
  • Caregiving
  • Communicating
  • Engaging in child-related maintenance
  • Engaging in thought processes
  • Monitoring
  • Planning
  • Protecting
  • Providing
  • Running errands
  • Sharing activities
  • Sharing interests
  • Showing affection
  • Supporting emotionally
  • Teaching

Accordingly, the involvement of a father is defined by his residence (whether the father resides at home or not). In the case of nonresidential fathers, participation is measured in terms of monetary support. Nevertheless, the dimension of financial assistance is among many other aspects of father involvement that are associated with a lot of measuring challenges such as emotional commitment, quality of interactions and closeness (Coley, 2001). According to Campos (2008), these problematic dimensions of father involvement are more predictive of or influential for child outcomes.  

That said, approximately, over 50% of all African-American children are raised up in a single mother family, which has resulted in extremely high rates of poverty (Jackson et al., 2015). Due to these particular circumstances, negative results for African-American children often occur, even at an early age in school. The study produced results that fathers, resident or nonresident, play a vital role in the lives of their children. In addition, the results showed that the involvement of fathers affects youth development. 

The extensive review has provided evidence that when a biological father is separated from his children, they face a significantly higher risk of negative outcomes, especially for teenagers or minors in the African- Americans context (Carlson, 2006). Additionally, in some situations research has proven that education and the remarriage of mothers are of little benefit to children. As a result, a child’s behavior is affected by the choice of a mother to remarry. Family structure is a component that should often be evaluated in regard to the development of children. A study found significant differences among children with behavior issues living with their biological parents as opposed to living in a different family structure (Carlson, 2006).

In the past 30 years, research on fatherhood has been mushrooming. To better understand the relationship between early childhood development and father involvement, tests on the moderating effects of ethnicity/race are necessary. Furthermore, the early childhood phase is very critical since children experience numerous modifications. The initial modification involves transitioning into a formal schooling environment (kindergarten) from in-home care. The transition is vital since it marks the begging of a child’s independence. Perse, the preschoolers begin to spend more time with their peers and teachers away from their parents and family. At this stage, the involvement of fathers is an important determinant of school readiness. School preparedness is dictated by various elements that entail co-curricular activities, language, mental, social and character growth, which are expressively inclined to fathers (Shannon et al., 2006). The efficient acquisition of these abilities fortifies the ability for children to thrive in kindergarten. A child with adequate father involvement is able to navigate, interact and cooperate with other peers in a new environment overwhelmed with kids competing for the same care and attention. As a consequence, participating fathers facilitate the growth of higher IQ among young people who then reveal a more intellectual adeptness on standardized rational valuations. Thus, they are more inclined to adore school, partake in subsidiary activities and have positive attitudes towards education as a whole. To this notion, such pupils are obedient, attend all classes, score high grades and are never punished for misconduct in school, but rampant among many African-American students raised by a single parent. In adult age, siblings of available-dads reveal excellent educational acumen through engaging in economic development, work productivity, career accomplishment, psychosomatic advancement, and goal-oriented drives. 

Among poor fathers from African-American descent, studies have shown that emotional strength among children is dictated by the level of parent’s dedication and presence during the nurturing process (Downer and Mendez, 2005). Professor David Popenoe of Rutgers University holds the same view that that the involvement of fathers, especially biological fathers in the home is beneficial to their children, by providing economic support and physical protection, and serving as male role models. In other words, male parenting is significantly different from female parenting, and that difference is the cornerstone of healthy child development (Popenoe, 1997). For instance, fathers are less strict in a child’s upbringing than mothers are. These high-intensity interactions between fathers and children encourage children to explore diverse ways of approaching situations in life, take risks, and live independently. Through highlighting the aspect of responsibility, fairness, equity, and laws, fathers empower children on the impact of doing what is good or bad. The insights children receive from the world prepare them for the obstacles and challenges of life ahead. Unlike female parents, fathers evoke factors of independence while still motivating their siblings to be competitive. However, mothers initiate the value of safety and equality among children. By stressing concrete communication,  a father figure assists children to develop acumen and language proficiencies (Shannon et al., 2006). Nonetheless, while a female-figure advocate for the value of relationships by concentrating on aid, nurture, and compassion, fathers employ a benchmarking approach to educate their kids on world challenges. Overall, both motherhood and fatherhood parenting styles are insufficient for healthy child development on and of itself. Noteworthy, both guardians are significant for they complement each other to impact a viable plan to life for their siblings.

Area for Additional Research (What we do not Know)

There lacks noteworthy research in regards to race playing a significant factor in the psychosocial effects children encounter due to the lack of father involvement. Race is often overlooked, as opposed to socioeconomic status, education, and other variables. What is not known is if African- American children are prone to certain behaviors (drug usage, low academic achievement, and oppositional defiance) than their white counterparts due to the absence of fathers. Furthermore, what is not known is the success rate for children who grow up without fathers involved in their lives (Downer et al., 2008).

 Children’s psychosomatic change, university degree, discipline, and mental health in the growth of young people is associated with the participating dad. In previous studies, often a relationship was investigated in regards to mental health between fathers and their children. In fact, a study ran in Great Britain that tested 435 fathers, examined family-related factors among fathers and children. In the study, the results found that teenagers in stepfather households are at higher risk of behavior issues (Flouri, 2008). In addition, there was a positive liaison between father association and the adjustment of children to particular circumstances. 

Relevance of this Study  

The findings of this study will explore how the absence of a father in several cases has negative effects on a child’s psychosocial development. Children with lower levels of quality relationships with their fathers have an increased risk of behavior problems, depression, low self- esteem, and anger management issues. Some children also experience abandonment issues and difficulty in establishing meaningful relationships. Additionally, some children are forced into adult roles to care for younger siblings. These negative behaviors often follow children into adulthood, which causes problems in their ability to parent and have healthy relationships. This paper will present relevant research and significant data that indicates the significance of fathers’ involvement in the development of their kids.


For this study, it is hypothesized that there is a positive association between father envelopment and better children outcomes. It is also conjectured that race or ethnicity (African Americans), as discrete from income level, has a regulating influence on the affiliation between childhood development and father involvement.


According to some scholars, father involvement can be classified into four main dimensions, benchmarked on economic support. They include: 

  • Engagement or direct interaction with children
  • Availability or accessibility
  • Responsibility for care
  • Breadwinning or financial aid


This study is limited to measuring a father’s involvement through direct interaction/engagement with their children for at least four weeks. However, in future research endeavors, involvement measures of NSFG can be used. They include children’s engagement activities in the last one year, marital, cohabitation or age status when first becoming a father. The frequency and amount of child support paid and (if any) satisfaction with the amount of contact for nonresident fathers and attitudes towards parenthood and marriage are also paramount. These measures have been published before, although they are out of the latitude of the current study.

The procedure of this study is informed by the 2006-2010 NSFG that is corporately financed and assessed by a number of agendas from the US Department of Health and Human Services, incorporating the NSFG. Data will be collected from 100 participants through interviews of men aged between 25- 50 years. The interviews will be extracted from a sample of 200 men who are fathers.

Ethical Considerations 

As far as ethical issues of research are concerned, the interview will be voluntary, with the participants being aware of the signed informed consent. It is paramount to consider the age of the participants, especially children, to eliminate any form of distraction and confusion. Furthermore, the study will be approved and reviewed by the University of (Name of university).

Results and Discussions  

Anticipated results are likely to indicate that infants of vastly tangled fathers, as measured by the aggregate of direct contact including caregiving activities and advanced levels of play, are more cognitively fit and score amazingly on the Bailey Scales of Infant Development at six months. By age one, they are better at solving problems and continue with high cognitive functioning until age three, when they begin to exhibit a higher intelligent quotient. As far as the development of communication skills is concerned, it was found that, unlike mothers, fathers communicate with toddlers with more W-questions (where, what, among others), which encourage more communicative responsibilities. In other words, such questions promote toddlers to produce longer utterances and to use varied lexis when communicating with their fathers. In like fashion, school-aged children of convoluted fathers perform well academically. As educational highfliers, they have better verbal and quantitative skills, better achievement test scores, acquire and achieve better in school, hence are more likely to ace their papers. 

When it comes to emotional development and well-being, findings indicate that involved fathers are securely attached to their children, hence a better position when dealing with strange situations. It is the father’s role to create positive thinking to children, which occurs through bonding. Rather than criticize them, dads have an obligation to develop critical thinking skills among their children, which helps in managing stressful situations. Male-figures are relatively proactive in dealing with difficult cases. Significantly, fathers are daring to new surroundings, respond expertly to the new areas, and interact nobly with visitors.  In general, children’s overall life satisfaction is positively correlated with father involvement. Throughout life, such children experience less downheartedness, less emotional suffering, less conduct problems, fewer lingoes of conflicting feelings such as guilt and fear, fewer anxiety symptoms, less psychosomatic anguish, lower neuroticism, a superior logic of social aptitude and higher ranks of self-reported joy.

On social development, children’s overall social proficiency, societal maturity, societal initiative and aptitude for kinship with others is positively correlated with father involvement. Dads are shapers of children’s destiny, in the line of social interactions. Most significantly, provide the foundation to their children on choosing their peers based on developed characters and behaviors. In another view, teens of available-fathers stand a chance of gaining popularity and fame than their peers from single mothers, thus enjoy influential peer associations. In contrast, pupils of absent dads are linked more struggle, hostility, and pessimism. In essence, such children are lonely, non-social, and lack team-work skills. 

As far as the physical health of children is concerned, findings are likely to indicate that fathers directly dictate the physical health and well-being of children. As such, being an involved father means being part of the emotional journey of the spouse and children for a greater sense of well-being in post-pregnancy. In other words, fathers have a positive impact on the mother amid pregnancy problems, delivery, and the overall nursing experience. Involved fathers significantly influence the health and well-being of the mother and the newborn. In fact, according to Allen and Daly (2007), infant transience rates are 1.8 times less for infants with married mothers than for unmarried mothers.


The objective of this study is to appraise the significance of fathers’ involvement in child development among African Americans using a sample of 200 fathers aged between 25 and 50 years.  As a limitation, this study is limited to direct interaction as a dimension or a measure of father involvement for children of all ages (toddlers to 18-year-olds). Another significant limitation is based on the fact that father’s involvement- whether residential or nonresidential- has been associated with better child outcomes such as fewer behavioral problems and high levels of emotional and social adjustment. Nonetheless, the study does not explicitly compare how child outcomes in families with nonresident and resident fathers differ. For both cases, however, results indicate that father involvement is linked with numerous positive children outcomes. As elucidated, being a father goes beyond protecting children, and effective fathering takes many different forms. To this end, fathers undertake a significant part in the growth of their children. Therefore, higher commitments, investment, and involvement are necessary for positive outcomes. 


Allen, S. M., & Daly, K. J. (2007). The effects of father involvement: An updated research summary of the evidence. FIRA. Retrieved from

Campos, R. (2008). Considerations for studying father involvement in early childhood among 

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Latino families. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 30(2), 133-160.

Carlson, M. J. (2006). Family structure, father involvement, and adolescent behavioral outcomes. Journal of Marriage & Family, 68(1), 137-154. 

Coley, R. L. (2001) (In)visible men: Emerging research on low-income, unmarried, and minority fathers. American Psychologist, 56(9), 743-753.

Downer, J. T., & Mendez, J. L. (2005). African American father involvement and preschool children’s school readiness. Early Education and Development, 16(3), 317-340. 

Downer, J. T., Campos, R., McWayne, C.M., & Gartner, T. (2008). Father involvement and children’s early learning: A critical review of published empirical work from the past 15 years. Marriage & Family Review, 43(1/2), 67-108).

Flouri, E. (2008). Fathering and adolescents’ psychological adjustment: The role of fathers’ involvement, residence and biology status. Child Care, Health & Development, 34(2), 152-161. 

Harris, R. D. (2010). A meta-analysis on father involvement and early childhood social-emotional development. Opus issues, 2, 21-39.

Jackson, A. P., Jeong-Kyun, C., & Preston, K. J. (2015). Nonresident fathers’ involvement with young black children: A replication and extension of a mediational model. Social Work Research, 39(4), 245-254. 

Lawrence, P. J., Davies, B., & Ramchandani, P. G. (2012). Using video feedback to improve early father–infant interaction: A pilot study. Clinical Child Psychology & Psychiatry, 18(1), 61-71.

Palkovitz, R. (2014). Involved fathering and men’s adult development: Provisional balances. New York, NY: Psychology Press.

Peterson, K. A. (2014). An analysis of father involvement practices in early childhood: Implications for early intervention service delivery. Opensiuc. Retrieved from

Popenoe, D. (1997). Life without father. Information Analyses. Retrieved from

Shannon, J. D., Tamis-LeMonda, C. S., & Cabrera, N. J. (2006). Fathering in infancy: Mutuality and stability between 8 and 16 months. Parenting, Science & Practice, 6(2/3), 167-188.


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