The Science Of Being A Dad

The science of fatherhood. How dads shape their children from the DNA up – how they speak, the way they move, more.

A father and his son. A new book suggests not enough research has been done to show the importance of fathers in childhood development. (Creative Commons / Lies Thru a Lens)

A father and his son. A new book suggests not enough research has been done to show the importance of fathers in childhood development. (Creative Commons / Lies Thru a Lens)

Father’s Day, coming up.  Maybe it’s pancakes and a hug for Dad.  For a long time now, the issues around Mom have had more attention.  Dads were off working.  Moms juggled the universe.  Including work.  But a raft of scientific studies have been steadily boring into the question of exactly how and where dads – fathers – have their impact in child-rearing and the home.  In genetic legacies.  In dad-style play and speech.  In the onset of puberty, the family frame of mind, the biological impact of simple presence.  This hour On Point:  The science of fatherhood.  How it works.  The imprint it leaves.

– Tom Ashbrook


Paul Raeburn, author of the new book “Do Fathers Matter? What Science Is Telling Us About the Parent We’ve Overlooked.” Author of the “About Fathers” blog at Psychology Today magazine. Chief media critic for the Knight Science Journalism Tracker at MIT. (@praeburn)

From Tom’s Reading List

The Wall Street Journal: Roughhousing Lessons From Dad — “There is no question among researchers that fathers who spend time with their children instill self-control and social skills in their offspring. Exactly how dads do that, however, is largely a mystery. Thousands of studies have sliced and diced the benefits for children of a close, nurturing bond with Mom. Researchers have a harder time analyzing the ways fathers interact with children, such as rough-and-tumble play.”

Scientific American: How Dads Influence Teens’ Happiness — “In 2011 administrators at Frayser High School in Memphis, Tenn., came to a disturbing realization. About one in five of its female students was either pregnant or had recently given birth. City officials disputed the exact figures, but they admitted that Frayser had a problem. The president of a local nonprofit aimed at helping girls blamed the disturbing rate of teen pregnancy on television.”

New York Times: Relevant? Nurturing? Well, So’s Your Old Man — “When our young daughters first decided to play on top of our Honda minivan, parked in our driveway, my wife was worried. But to me, it seemed no less safe than chasing a ball that frequently ended up in the street. And they loved the height, the novelty, the danger. So I let them stay. They never fell. And with the summer weather here, playing on the car is once again keeping them occupied for hours.”

Read An Excerpt Of “Do Fathers Matter?” By Paul Raeburn

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