Educational Attainment and Positive Father Involvement

by Doug Edwards
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When fathers are involved in their children’s education children were more likely to get A’s, enjoy school, and participate in extracurricular activities and less likely to have repeated a grade.

Source: Fathers’ Involvement in Their Children’s Schools. National Center for Education Statistics. Washington DC: GPO, 1997.

Children whose fathers share meals, spend leisure time with them, or help them with reading or homework do significantly better academically than those children whose fathers do not.

Source: Cooksey, Elizabeth C. and Michelle M. Fondell. “Spending Time with His Kids: Effects of Family Structure on Fathers’ and Children’s Lives.” Journal of Marriage and the Family 58


“...for girls, studies link a sense of competence in daughters — especially in mathematics and a sense of femininity — to a close, warm relationship between father and daughter.”

Source: Radin, N. and G. Russell. “Increased Father Participation and Child Development Outcomes.” Fatherhood and Family Policy. Eds. M.E. Lamb and A. Sagi. Hillside Lawrence Erlbaum.

Effects of Early Father Involvement on Child Well-Being

Fathers who were affectionate, spent time with their children, and overall had a positive attitude were more likely to have securely attached infants.

Source: Cox, M.J. et al. “Prediction of Infant-Father and Infant-Mother Attachment.” Developmental Psychology 28 :474-483.

Children who were securely attached to their fathers were better problem solvers than children who were not securely attached to their fathers. Children whose fathers spent a lot of time with them and who were sensitive to their needs were found to be better adapted than their peers.

Source: Esterbrooks, M. Ann and Wendy A. Goldberg. “Toddler Development in the Family: Impact of Father Involvement and Parenting Characteristics.” Child Development 55 : 740-752.

“...six-month old babies whose fathers had been actively involved scored higher on the Bayley Test of Mental and Motor Development, and babies whose fathers were involved during the first eight weeks of life managed stress better during their school years.”

Source: Pedersen, F.A. et al. “Parent-Infant and Husband-Wife Interactions Observed at Five Months.” The Father-Infant Relationship. Ed. F. Pedersen. New York, . 65-91.

The Positive Impact of Father Involvement

A study using a nationally representative sample of children showed that children whose fathers showed little emotional involvement were more likely to have experienced poverty than children whose fathers were emotionally involved with their children.

Source: Mullan Harris, Kathleen and Jeremy K. Marmer. “Poverty, Paternal Involvement, and Adolescent Well-Being.” Journal of Family Issues 17 : 614-640.

Children are better off when their relationship with their father is close and warm.

Source: Lamb, M.E. The Father’s Role: Applied Perspectives. New York: J. Wiley,

Children with fathers at home tend to do better in school, are less prone to depression and are more successful in relationships. Children from one-parent families achieve less and get into trouble more than children from two-parent families.

Source: One-Parent Families and Their Children: The School’s Most Significant Minority. The Consortium for the Study of School Needs of Children from One-Parent Families. National Association of Elementary School Principals and the Institute for Developmentof Educational Activities, a division of the Charles F. Kettering Foundation. Arlington, VA.

A high level of paternal involvement and improved father-child relations throughout adolescence were associated with lower levels of delinquency and better psychological well-being.

Source: Mullan Harris, Kathleen, Frank F. Furstenberg, and Jeremy K. Marmer. “Paternal Involvement with Adolescents in Intact Families: The Influences of Fathers over the Life Course.” American Sociological Association. New York. 16-20

A survey of African-American men revealed that men who had experienced a positive relationship with a father who cared and sacrificed for them are more likely to be responsible fathers themselves.

Source: Furstenberg, F. “Good Dads-Bad Dads: Two Faces of Fatherhood.” The Changing American Family and Public Policy. Ed. A.J. Cherlin. Washington DC: The Urban Institute Press,

Children who lived with both parents were more likely to have finished high school, be economically self-sufficient, and to have a healthier life style than their peers who grew up in a broken home.

Source: Hardy, Janet B. et al. “Self Sufficiency at Ages 27 to 33 Years: Factors Present between Birth and 18 Years that Predict Educational Attainment Among Children Born to Inner-city Families.” Pediatrics 99