Parenting Resources

Elementary-age Children Need Father Figures

A review of 24 research articles evaluated the association between fathers presence in the home and reduced behavioral problems in boys.

The authors’ concluded, “In particular, it appears to reduce the frequency of behavioural problems in boys and psychological problems in young women. It also enhances cognitive development while reducing criminality and economic disadvantage in low SES families.”  This was true for father figures as well as for fathers.  

“Our detailed 20-year review shows that overall, children reap positive benefits if they have active and regular engagement with a father figure” said Dr. Anna Sarkadi from Uppsala University in Sweden.

Children whose fathers are involved and caring have better educational outcomes, with better verbal skills and intellectual functioning.  

What can we do?

  1. For families where there is no father, we encourage mothers to look in their community for a man who would be willing to become a father-figure for her children.

  2. For families who have a father in the home, consider bringing a fatherless child into your family circle so that child will benefit from a father figure in his/her life.

  3. We encourage fathers to be involved in their children’s activities – in and out of school.  Attend the school play, the soccer practice, the art show.

  4. Be involved in your child’s school work.  Just sitting next to your child while he/she does homework demonstrates you value education.

  5. Teach your child how to do various household tasks. As you mow the lawn, do repairs, or paint the fence have your child next to you and demonstrate how to do the work. Allow your child to take on new responsibilities as he/she demonstrates the appropriate skills.

  6. Look for opportunities to volunteer together.

  7. Do outdoor activities together – hiking, camping.

  8. Ask your child what he/she would like to do together – and take the time to do it!

  9. Take your daughters on ‘date’ nights to show her how a man should treat a lady – and teach her your values.

  10. Take your son on outings to teach him your values.

  11. Be home for meals.  Eating meals with their families helps children academically and emotionally.

Click here to return to the main article to see information specific to Newborns and Infants, Toddlers and Preschoolers, and Adolescents.


Sarkada A, Kristiansson R, et al.    Fathers’ involvement and children’s developmental outcomes:  a systematic review of longitudinal studies. Acta Paediatrica  2008;  97(2): 153-158.