It’s well known that involving fathers from the start in children’s lives has a significant positive impact on their development, including the greater economic security of having more than one parent. Yet, there’s more to the “father effect.” Numerous studies have found that children growing up in a household with a father present show superior outcomes in intelligence tests, particularly in nonverbal, or spatial, reasoning that’s integral in mathematics, science and engineering.
The IQ advantage is attributed to the way that fathers interact with their children, with an emphasis on the manipulation of objects like blocks, roughhousing and outdoor activities, rather than language-based activities. A study of Chinese parents found that it was a father’s warmth toward his child that was the ultimate factor in predicting the child’s future academic success.
A recent Canadian study from Concordia University provides new insights into a father’s impact on a daughter’s emotional development, as well. Lead researcher Erin Peugnot concluded, “Girls whose fathers lived with them when they were in middle childhood (ages 6 to 10) demonstrated less sadness, worry and shyness as preteens (ages 9 to 13) compared with girls whose fathers did not live with them,” he says.