The Importance of Dads

We celebrated Father’s Day just over a week ago, and now a respected sociologist has pointed out just how important dads are to the health and well-being of kids.

Dr. Brad Wilcox at the University of Virginia has written an editorial for The Atlantic magazine, titled “The Distinct, Positive Impact of a Good Dad.”

He points out that many scholars and writers today argue that dads are dispensable.   He even quotes actress Jennifer Aniston, who has said “Women are realizing that they don’t have to settle with a man just to have that child.”

Dr. Wilcox says that perspective has a lot of appeal in an era where millions of women have children outside of marriage, serve as breadwinner moms to their families, or are raising children on their own.

But he says this view overlooks a growing body of research on the critical importance of fathers.

Here are just a few contributions that a father makes in the life of a child:

Dads have important things to teach their children about boundaries in physical play; they’re more likely to encourage healthy risk-taking, and they serve as a protective presence.

Also, dads typically discipline and set rules more firmly than mothers.

Dr. Wilcox says that the impact of fathers can’t be underestimated.

Kids with loving, involved dads are less likely to get involved in criminal behavior, less likely to get depressed, and less likely to get pregnant as teenagers.

By the way, Dr. Wilcox has just co-authored a new textbook titled “Gender and Parenthood: Biological and Social Scientific Perspectives.”

If you’d like to learn more about his research findings, go to and enter “wilcox” in the search engine.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Shine Family Expert