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Why children fare best when they know their fathers

Once you and your child’s mother go your separate ways, you may not see your son or daughter as often as you would like. Maintaining a relationship with your child after your divorce or separation is critical, though. Research shows that your child benefits in many ways from your efforts to maintain an active presence in his or her life.

When your child has you in his or her life, something called the “Father Effect” comes into play. The Father Effect is an umbrella term for the many ways in which having an active father is helpful for your son or daughter. What are some of these benefits?

They have stronger cognitive abilities

Research shows that young children demonstrate higher cognitive scores when they have fathers who are active parts of their lives. A study of 1-year-olds showed that those who had fathers around since their first month of life had better cognitive abilities than their peers who did not. A study of preterm infants showed that they, too, had stronger cognitive abilities at 36 months than their peers who did not have active fathers early on.

They are less likely to become sexually active while young

Girls who have active fathers are also less likely than their peers to engage in sexual relationships at a young age. When you maintain a strong presence in your daughter’s life, she may also develop higher standards when it comes to choosing a partner. Many studies have revealed a link between girls not having fathers, or girls having inactive fathers, and engaging in risky sexual behavior. This may be due in part to the fact that girls without engaged fathers often spend more time unsupervised.

They are less likely to face academic or legal trouble

Your child is more likely to stay in school when you are around than he or she would be otherwise. Your child is also less likely to spend time incarcerated later in life because of your decision to remain engaged.

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