The Importance of Dads in a Child’s Life

Society has phrases about the bond between children and their fathers, such as “daddy’s girl” and “like father, like son. Such sayings highlight that fathers play essential roles in their children’s lives. In some homes, dads contribute equally to parenting; sometimes, they are the sole parent. Times changed and shifted the belief that only mothers care for and raise children. 

           Many types of dads exist. They can be one or more of the following kinds:

  • Biological dad
  • Adopted dad
  • Stepdad
  • Single dad
  • Stay-at-home dad

The biological dad is blood-related to a child who has one-half of the father’s genetic makeup. An adopted dad goes through the adoption process to become the legal father of a child. Adoption can occur through the state foster care system or private adoption agencies.,,

A stepdad becomes a part of a child’s life when he marries the child’s legal parent. The blended family may also consist of the child of the stepdad. Although the stepfather is not the biological or legal parent, he may still fulfill the role of a dad. Sometimes, the stepdad adopts the stepchild and becomes the legal father.

Single dads and stay-at-home dads are the primary caretakers for their children – possibly the sole providers and caregivers.,, According to the United States Census Bureau statistics, more than 3 million homes have children raised by single fathers. A stay-at-home father may work a part-time or full-time job with hours or shifts opposite the other parent. However, the reported amount of stay-at-home dads in the United States may only include fathers who do not work, making the projected number of 1.75 million too low.  

The father’s presence in a child’s life can add to the child’s confidence and feeling of security about themselves.” Fathers are more than just financial support for their children. Many dads are active in their children’s development and upbringing. While dads are stereotypically the protectors and providers for their kids, they have additional roles as:

  • Teachers
  • Role models
  • Comforters
  • Supporters
  • Encouragers
  • Friends
  • Playmates
  • Confidantes
  • Counselors

The makeup of a family may differ slightly or significantly from other families. The United States Census Bureau defines a family as two or more people related by blood, marriage, or adoption. A child’s family and household may consist of parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, siblings, or cousins. They may be a part of an adopted family or a blended stepfamily. Adopted fathers and stepdads can fill the same roles as biological fathers. Therefore a “dad” is not just his legal relationship with a child; it is also the connection that arises from the interactions between father and child.

Research on how a father’s presence impacts a child’s life by lower the risk for negative behavior and effects, such as,,

  • Emotional issues
  • Behavioral problems
  • Poor academic performance
  • Self-harm
  • Delinquency
  • Health concerns

Children with their fathers in their homes can establish and maintain a relationship through day-to-day physical contact. Fathers outside their children’s homes may find it more challenging to have the same daily contact. However, they can be active parents to their children with frequent visitations and communication by phone and the internet.

Oregon law recognizes the importance of the father-child relationship and that the father and mother have equal rights and responsibilities to their child. The law does not prefer the mother over the father for a child custody determination. Therefore, the court may appoint either one as the custodial parent.  

The standard for child custody is what is in the best interest of the child. Because the parents are equal in child custody cases, the factors for a parent to receive custody refer to both of them, including:

  • Each parent’s interest in the child
  • The desire to continue an existing relationship
  • The willingness of the parent to encourage and assist in a close and continuing relationship with the other parent
  • Preference for the primary caregiver

A child’s primary caregiver may be the mother or the father. Over the years, the number of stay-at-home and single dads increased. 

While the statistics show a lower number of dads as primary caregivers than moms, the studies reflect the importance dads play in the upbringing and care of their children. They do not babysit their children. They are not the second choice of the mother. They are the other parent; therefore, they can provide for their child’s physical and emotional needs.

To schedule a consultation with one of our family law attorneys in Oregon or SW Washington, call us now at 503.222.9116 or write us.

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