Do Fathers Matter?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Father and son Father and son (Phil Hilfiker/flickr)

Paul Raeburn, blogger, media critic, writer, and the author of Do Fathers Matter?: What Science Is Telling Us About the Parent We've Overlooked (Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014), looks at what research tells us about a father's impact on his children, from their DNA to their weight.


Paul Raeburn

Comments [16]

Amy from Manhattan

I was hoping to ask on the air if there's still *some* hormonal change in fathers-to-be who aren't able to be with the mother-to-be during her pregnancy. Humans have consciousness & respond emotionally & hormonally to information even if they aren't on the scene. For example, hearing or reading about some events can trigger adrenalin & make us angry or afraid even if there's no threat to us. So I could understand if a man who is away still has some degree of hormonal response to knowing he's going to be a father, even though it's not to anywhere the same degree as if he's home.

Jun. 10 2014 11:32 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

The truth that mothers hate and have always tried to squelch is that fathers can raise babies just as well as mothers, and in some cases even better. This undermines them horribly in their power struggle against men. They need to control the babies and keep them on their side. THey need to make a rift between children and fathers to have political power. They have to spread lies to do so. And since most children are first raised by mommies, they are easy to turn against fathers. It's not rocket science. Fathers today are like Jews in GErmany. They have to watch their step at all times.

Jun. 10 2014 11:22 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

Well put @genejoke from Brooklyn!

Jun. 10 2014 11:20 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

I've been pushing the Brian Lehrer show to explore the topic of Divorced fathers losing contact with their kids for years -- pushed out of their lives, against their will. How are most of the other topics regularly visited by WNYC more important?

Thank you Paul Raeburn for articulating this so clearly!

Jun. 10 2014 11:19 AM
genejoke from Brooklyn

I neglected to mention same-sex parent couples. I'm not privy to the inner workings of the households, but I do see the same-sex couples I know with kids doing a superb job (much better than some opposite-sex couples I know). This is still a relatively new form of family, and it will be interesting to see how this generation of kids with same-sex parents turns out. Looks very promising so far!

Jun. 10 2014 11:18 AM
Amy from Manhattan

When I hear reports about differences btwn. men & women, I always have to ask whether those differences are more than the differences within each sex. In most of the studies I've heard about, they aren't.

Jun. 10 2014 11:15 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

The "myths spread about fathers" were spread by mothers, because children are just a pawn in the power struggle between the genders. For most of history ,females had to defer to males because men were stronger and females needed them for protection. But they always tried to turn the children against the fathers and make them allies against the big old buffoon.
For the most part, the real relation between males and females is political, a struggle for power where children are the pawns.

Jun. 10 2014 11:06 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

If you have the financial resources to supervise and help raise your children - a father may not be necessary.

If you don't, the odds of your kids growing up to mug people or working in a strip club - whilst still remote, expands exponentially.

Jun. 10 2014 11:03 AM
genejoke from Brooklyn

So fathers DO matter?! WHEW!

But seriously, fathers, (AND mothers) serve not just as caretakers, but - if you're lucky - also as protectors, role models and emotional supporters. Male and female parents exist beyond their socially dictated roles; you will look for your father's good qualities in every man you meet, and your mother's good qualities in every woman you meet.

Plenty of people raised in single parent households turn out fine, they just face bigger challenges in life that hopefully make them stronger.

All boys need a male role model to love and teach them by example. All girls need fathers to help form their ideas of what a man should be. A person with a caring father will likely be more nurturing toward others and themselves. Even a minimal amount of fatherly presence and attention makes a difference in a child's development.

Jun. 10 2014 11:02 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

What a joke. That's like asking if kings still matter. Should we go back to patriarchy? That's like going back to monarchy. The truth is, in the future babies will be produced in hatcheries because mothers aren't going to matter either.

Jun. 10 2014 10:59 AM
Jake S from Harlem

Martin, I've finally figured out why you have these beliefs about those damn liberals. You completely misunderstand lefties' motivations.

There is no great belief that people should be dependent on the state. There is no great conspiracy to destroy the family. We just don't think that way. We DO believe that people shouldn't freeze or starve in the streets - perhaps you've heard of a social safety net? How you extrapolate from that to "they want to destroy the family!" is beyond me, but maybe I'll understand eventually.

Of course, I have already lost this argument by replying to another MC troll.

Jun. 10 2014 10:03 AM
John A

This after years of "why need a man?" style articles everywhere (mostly other media, but WNYC too). A necessary change, and, thank-you. Keep it up.

Jun. 10 2014 09:54 AM
john from office

Just look at the result of the social welfare state and its effect on the black community, where fathers are replaced by the state. Fathers matter, two parents matter and kids need role models, no matter what color they are.

Jun. 10 2014 09:20 AM

Oh, please ... do we need another discussion of what we all know is a sociological disaster, whatever Brian dreams up as "pushback".

The Left has been cheer leading this demise of social cohesiveness since the early 1800'S... it increases dependence on enlightened government authorities.

.... and every man in prison should sue his mama (not celebrating her as a "courageous single mom") for sentencing to him to a life that was slanted against him from Day 1.

Jun. 10 2014 08:42 AM
Ed from Larchmont

There is an on-going movement in the country to support spirituality for men, and fatherhood is a big part of that. But we seem to have problems with any kind of authority, even benevolent, so we have problems with fathers. And children need fathers.

Jun. 10 2014 08:07 AM

Do Fathers Matter?

More than universal pre-K.

(You can look it up.)

Jun. 10 2014 07:46 AM

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