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Are Fathers Necessary? The Science Behind The Disregarded Parent

Are Fathers Necessary?

The Science Behind The Disregarded Parent.



Society has decided over the last few decades that fathers are not necessary, that they are unimportant. Everyone ought to know that the society is wrong. Fathers are not unimportant. Fathers are necessary. Husbands are necessary.

We are all familiar with what Mothers do for their children, but what is it exactly that the fathers do for their children? How much do Fathers matter? And what in turn do children do for their Fathers? Here we will answer are fathers necessary. What is the science behind fathers?

In the 1970s, most psychologists and other “experts” had an informal answer to that question with regard to infants; fathers were thought to have little or no role to play.  And this answer has promoted an agenda to disregard fathers in our current culture.

In 1976, Michael E. Lamb,  a development psychologist and creator in research on fathers, wrote that emphasis on mothers in infants development was so one sided that it seemed as if “the father is an almost irrelevant entity in the infants social world.”

For decades, psychologist had “assumed that the mother-infant relationship was unique and more important than any coexistent, or succeeding, relationships.”  The attachment to this nurturing and protective adult was supposed to give the infant a developmental advantage even Darwin had endorsed his exclusive focus on the mother.

There wasn’t much evidence for the irrelevancy of fathers. But there wasn’t a lot of data to suggest they were relevant either. Few had asked the question and nobody knew the answer. The irrelevancy of fathers had become an article of faith among researchers.  So, why would any of  them question something they knew to be true?

Lamb was among the first to start challenging this theory. Studies were beginning to appear that suggested that the bond between mothers and infants wasn’t nearly as strong as others had expected, and that the amount of time mothers and infants spent together wasn’t a good predictor of the quality of their relationship.

Finally, a few researchers who had risked looking elsewhere were finding that “the interaction that at least some infants have with their fathers is enjoyable and marked by highly positive emotions on both sides.” This insight was beginning to appear in professional scholarly journals.

You have to wonder if those who do all these researches even have children at all.  It is around this time that Lamb and other researchers began to distinguish the important role of fathers in child’s play. It’s now widely understood that fathers are more likely to engage very young children in what’s usually called “rough –and-tumble play.”  That was one of the first important insights about father’s relationships with infants and toddlers, and it came out of Lamb’s research.

Fathers in some of those early studies were more likely than mothers to encourage infants to explore, and to challenge them. Mothers were more likely to play with toys, with their preschool age children, while fathers wrestled around with them on the floor.  A study by Lamb found that infants actually preferred to be held by their fathers because fathers were likely to play with them, while mothers were likely to feed them or change their diapers.

According to the research, two-year olds who wanted to play pursued their fathers more than their mothers. Playing, wrestling, and otherwise challenging children is the trademark of the involvement of fathers with their children at all ages. At the same time, researchers started to recognize that infants have relationships not only with fathers but with other relatives and friends, which made sense. Lamb cites an observation by anthropologist Margaret Mead  in 1962 that attachments to others, in addition to mothers, have “clear survival value, since the child then has insurance against loss of a parent.”

Many researches argued that fathers often had a negative reaction to their wives pregnancies and had limited contact with their newborns. But studies in the mid-1970s were beginning to determine that fathers were excited about becoming parents just as much as mothers if not more than and were very interested in spending time with their newborns.  A finding that should have been evident, one would think, to any researcher who got out of his office and strolled through a hospital maternity ward you will see father’s involvement all around the time of a child’s birth.

Psychologists and other social scientists, who should have been leading the charge to change dominant views of fatherhood, instead added to the devaluing of fathers. Many researchers believed that because mothers were the primary caretakers, they were far more important than fathers. That fundamental view put fathers in a rough spot.

Fathers could hardly assert their importance when they were repeatedly being told they were irrelevant except as the providers of the family income.

The archives show that fathers were and are widely ignored in scientific studies. You can see for yourself at PubMed.  When we thought about the roles of a father, we relied on idea, instincts, prejudice and misinformation rather than real understanding. There is a clear inequality between studies of mothers   and fathers.




In 2005, Vicky Phares a psychologist at the University of South Florida reviewed 514 studies of clinical child and adolescent psychology from the leading psychological journals.  Nearly, half of them excluded fathers. Some involved both parents, but only 11 percent focused solely on fathers.

As I researched farther, in 2006, Myrna Weissman, a notable epidemiologist and researcher at Columbia University, published  a study seeking to find out whether treating depressed mothers might reduce the known increased risk of anxiety and depression in their children.

Treating the mothers did improve the mental health of the children, but the study didn’t include any data on the fathers.  Could the involvement of and understanding of fathers helped the children even more? Could cold or unconcerned fathers have made things worse?

Another researcher who was studying collaborations between parents and their newborns kept a log of a mothers behavior and activity with her infant to her father, the researcher wrote “Baby given to father” and closed  her notebook; the experiment was over. There is a lot to be considered when it comes to our children and us as adult human beings. Fathers matter more than we would like to admit.

Growing up I knew fathers were important. I had a grandfather and a step-father as well as uncles who had children. Although, my dad wasn’t present in the beginning, my desire to know and have a relationship with my dad was something I longed for regardless to my mothers best efforts to give me everything she thought I needed.

I really didn’t know myself until I got to know my dad. My biological father. Indeed, I’m grateful for the men who were apart of my upbringing. But it wasn’t enough because I was missing something that I knew was important for me to know. I understand that this is not the same for everyone. However, my father was necessary in my life even till this day.

Are fathers necessary? Absolutely, and there is science behind the disregarded parent that proves that fathers do matter. What are your thoughts? Leave them in the comments forum below.

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