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Fathers play an important role in a child's development from birth through adulthood. In fact, numerous studies have reached the same conclusion: Children with involved fathers have an advantage -- socially and academically -- over children with distant or no relationships with their dads. "We found that children with fathers who take the time to ask about what they learned in school and their day-to-day social activities and relationships do better in school than kids who don't have that kind of input or interest. And it's important to note that this father figure doesn't have to be a biological father in order for children to benefit. It can be an adoptive father, stepdad, or an adult male in the household.
A good dad can be a positive role model for boys and help them to adopt a healthy gender identity as well as a better awareness of their feelings and emotions. However, someone other than the boy's birth father can provide a beneficial male influence. Single mothers can find alternative role models for their boys in an uncle, grandfather, or good friend. If no relatives or close acquaintances are available, then mentoring programs such as Big Brothers can provide a willing volunteer.
Girls, too, reap some special benefits from having a close father-daughter bond. Girls who had close, positive relationships with their fathers during the first five years of life tended to reach puberty later than girls who had more distant relationships with their fathers. In addition, that girls who had more involved fathers were less likely to face mental health problems later in life. Genuine praise and admiration from a father can help his daughter grow up to be an independent, confident woman.