ACPeds Celebrates Fathers!

by Michelle Cretella, M.D.

Executive Director of the American College of Pediatricians

Today ACPeds celebrates all Dads who are leading their children to good health!

Children navigate developmental stages more easily, are more solid in their gender identity, perform better academically, have fewer physical and emotional disorders, and become better functioning adults when reared and nurtured by an actively involved father.

Good fathers impact their children’s lives for the better from conception forward.

When fathers are physically and emotionally supportive of their child’s mother prior to an infant’s birth, mothers are more likely to obtain prenatal care and maintain healthy habits during pregnancy. This translates into better health for both mom and baby at delivery. Continued paternal involvement after birth is associated with less maternal depression and a stronger father-child bond. When fathers hold their infants and engage in skin to skin contact, infants soothe faster, cry less, become drowsier faster and experience less wakefulness. Infants with involved dads are better problem-solvers as toddlers, and have higher IQs by 3 years of age. One reason is the impact active fathers have on a child’s language development. Fathers are more likely than mothers to use new words with their children. Consequently, children learn to speak in longer sentences and with an expanded vocabulary when reared by a father and a mother. 

School-aged children with involved fathers tend to show greater independence which is believed to be due in part to fathers engaging in rough and tumble play with them. Children with involved dads are also more likely to have positive attitudes toward school, get higher grades, demonstrate stronger executive functioning skills and achieve higher levels of education.

Kids with strong, loving fathers are less likely to be bullied and less likely to become bullies themselves.

Adolescents with involved fathers are far less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and substance abuse. They are less likely to engage in lying, stealing, sexual activity and violence. Teen girls are less likely to experience a teen pregnancy. During adulthood, children of actively engaged fathers are more likely to have a successful career and financial security. Children of engaged fathers also tend to have better social skills resulting in more friends and better relationships. They have fewer conflicts with their peers, are more likely to have positive interactions with their siblings, and are more likely to enter into a strong and happy marriage. 

So today, celebrate the strong loving dad in your life … and if YOU are one of those dads, then sit back and reflect on the gift you are! 

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