Fathers can provide love and stability

Freedom New Mexico

There is little question that in most families the mother is the central unifying person emblematic of unconditional love that can be tough love when necessary.

Recent research, however, suggests fathers are more important in the lives of children than had been previously understood.

It is still unclear how much this reflects the fact that, although many single parents are successful in that challenging role, children raised in intact two-parent homes enjoy certain tangible advantages, or that fathers bring certain essential characteristics to family life.

Some research indicates fathers are more likely to engage in vigorous physical play, to challenge children to be the best they can be. Some studies of adolescents suggest those with involved and affectionate fathers are less likely to be depressed or engage in delinquent behavior. And in most American families fathers are still the primary breadwinners.

Anybody who has ever had a father or been a father knows, however, that social science can only touch the statistical surface of how important fathers are.

How do you put a number on being a shoulder to cry on or uttering a loving “keep your chin up” or giving pointers on dealing with a bully? Can tossing a football or taking you fishing or explaining the infield fly rule be quantified?

As we celebrate fathers today, it is also important to remember those who perform the function, either as a supplement to a father or as a substitute in fatherless homes.

So uncles, grandfathers, coaches, teachers, pastors, neighbors — all who play a role in the lives of children — this is your day too.