It’s long been the belief that mothers have the upper hand over fathers when it comes to child custody cases, after a divorce or otherwise. Whether or not there’s any truth to this remains a topic of much debate. By and large, laws are written, especially recently, so that neither the mother or father has an inherent advantage. It doesn’t always play out that way in reality, but on paper at least, it’s a level playing field.
But beyond custody, which parent has the most influence on their children? This obviously varies a great deal from one situation to the next, but the prevailing logic seems to hold that mothers have a greater influence on daughters, while fathers hold greater sway with sons. Various studies, however, have something different to say about the subject.
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Fathers And Emotional Stability
A study published in the Journal of Family Psychology looks at the emotional importance of fathers in the lives of daughters. The findings show a variety of benefits to positive father-daughter relationships.
Subjects who have a positive relationship with their fathers were found to be more adept at coping with stress in typical, everyday situations. They are also less likely to develop ongoing issues like depression and anxiety.
Additionally, warm relationships “characterized by emotional support and consistency” impact external relationships down the road. Researchers found these subjects much more open to expressing themselves and discussing their feelings and their needs. This can lead to more fulfilling friendships, but also to healthier, more satisfying romantic relationships as they grow older.
Fathers And Practical Issues
By now it’s generally accepted that having both parents involved after divorce provides numerous benefits for children. Not only from an emotional standpoint, as illustrated above, but in practical terms as well.
A study from Rutgers University in New Jersey examines the impact of fathers remaining in a child’s life after a split. The findings show that fathers who don’t live with their children, but who maintain a consistent involvement, reduce a child’s food insecurity. In short, kids are more likely to have enough to eat and less likely to worry about where their next meal is coming from with both parents around.
This doesn’t simply include financial support or monetary contributions either, though that certainly plays a role. The study found that making child support payments alone didn’t alleviate food insecurity. In addition to cash, involvement includes spending time with the child, and “’in kind’ support, such as treats, gifts, and payment of medical or childcare expenses.”
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So, Are Fathers More Important?
This all leads to the question: are fathers more important than mothers? No, no they’re not. Neither parent is more important, and both are vital. What matters most is that both parents show up and stay involved.
Both parents are indispensable and hugely important to kids through all stages of life. The true extent depends a great deal on the relationships and the people involved. And, of course, countless factors go into nurturing and supporting healthy relationships between parents and children and fathers and daughters.
More than anything, these studies and those like them illustrate the importance of remaining in your child’s life, even after divorce. You may never want to see your ex again, but it benefits your kids in countless ways.
So, make use of your visitation and maintain a regular presence. Emotional support and even just being there are significant. You may not always feel that way, but they are. It can leave a lasting impression and have a substantial impact for a long time to come. Especially for those children and families at a greater risk.
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