Fathers and Families: Paternal Factors in Child Development

Fathers and Families: Paternal Factors in Child Development

Fathers and Families: Paternal Factors in Child Development

Fathers and Families: Paternal Factors in Child Development


Biller gives compelling evidence that fathers--so relatively under-researched--are very important to sound child development. He focuses on the positive results of active paternal involvement that affect an overall family environment, which is distributively nurturing and satisfying. The presence of a caring father encourages a child's body image, self-esteem, moral standards, and other important qualities. The child-father relationship is demonstrated to impact later life adjustment. Biller establishes, too, that variations in paternal involvement influence not only children but general family well-being including spousal relationships. This is a needed and timely work essential to understanding fathers' roles and potential in family life.


During the past twenty years, an increasing number of researchers and clinicians have begun to give more recognition to the father's impact on individual and family development. Nevertheless, a great discrepancy remains between current knowledge and concrete applications to parenting practices. Meaningful guidelines acknowledging the importance of the father in child development must be provided in order to help families work out effective patterns of parenting that fit their particular circumstances. Serving as an introduction, the first half of this chapter outlines some of the general advantages of shared parenting while the second half provides a brief preview of the major issues discussed in the rest of the book.


The book's emphasis is on the special contribution of the father in the context of his sharing of parenting responsibilities with the mother. Within a life-span perspective, fathers and mothers should be sensitized not just to the immediate consequences of their parenting practices but also to the longer-term implications for their children and for themselves. Consideration must be given to the continuing development of parents as well as children.

Sharing Responsibilities

Discussions of parenting have been too exclusively directed toward the mother's role in responding to the child's basic needs. The father is extremely important for the child's intellectual, emotional and social development. Both the father's and the mother's individual development and the quality of their relationship with one another need to be considered in understanding the parenting process. Immense cultural variations occur, but the father-mother-child connection is the foundation for the family, each member benefiting and learning from the other. A tendency toward a strong attachment to the infant is not just the . . .

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