a bird and a bottle

Dads, Want To Do Well by your Kids? Stay Home.
March 9, 2007, 8:37 am
Filed under: feminism/s & gender, news, politics, reproductive justice

From Feministing: Turns out, children do better when dad stays home.

A newly released British study shows that kids whose fathers help care for them soon after their birth have fewer development problems. The Guardian has more:

Children are more likely to suffer development problems if their fathers do not take paternity leave or spend enough time with them when they are very young, according to an analysis of thousands of babies born around the turn of the millennium.


Previous research has highlighted the importance of a mother’s involvement when a child is small, but the EOC says this is the first study to confirm that the close involvement of a father also has a significant impact on a child’s future.

See that? I am dubious about these numbers because of the causation/correlation question (do the kids do better because they have more stable homes, as evidenced by dads staying home?), but even so the study shows the impact that dads can have on child development, and the importance of equal parental involvement.

What would a real “pro-life” agenda include, then (besides access to birth control, EC, and childcare)? How about paid parental leave for both parents, for a start.


4 Comments so far
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What do you think the implications of this could be on same-sex couples? Particularly lesbian ones? If kids do better when the dad stays home, what if there is no dad? Things that focus so much on the gender of the parents always put me ill at ease.

Just putting that out there–even though research has proven that lesbian couples are just as good as straight ones.

Comment by radicaldoula

Radical Doula – fair concerns. My guess is that this study shows not so much that a dad is important, but that two people raising a child cooperatively is important. I’m not sure the sex of that second person (or that first person) is important at all — but as far as I know this study didn’t go into that. Which is – of course – clear evidence of how narrow the study was (and basis for your concern to begin with).

Comment by bean

What would a real “pro-life” agenda include, then (besides access to birth control, EC, and childcare)? How about paid parental leave for both parents, for a start.

Not just paid parental leave, but a rigid system that gives each parent time off, rather than both parents a pool of time off to share. Norway and Sweden discovered that under their parental leave policies, in the typical two-income family only the mother took time off, giving employers an incentive to engage in discrimination. Indeed, before the introduction of quotas, both countries had lower representation of women in corporate boards than the US. They’ve instituted some quotas since, but the focus of the solution is to rigidify the parental leave system – e.g. require that the father take up to three months of the available time off.

Comment by Alon Levy

Alon – thanks for the info. This is amazing and important. I wanted to get more info and found a seemingly credible site that has this to say (also amazing, but slightly different than your take):

Increasingly, especially among industrialized countries, leaves are being extended to fathers (paternity leave) or parents are being given the option of which parent can take a leave (parental leave). Four countries- Denmark, Italy, Norway, and Sweden – have recently extended their paid parental leaves and mandated that at least one month of this addition be a “use it or lose it” option for fathers. In Austria, three years of extended leave is offered, only if the father takes at least six months of the leave before the child turns three. Twenty-one countries provide a supplementary parental leave; in 13 it is paid, in seven until the baby is 1 ½ -3 years old. In all these countries, the policy covers adoption as well. The only difference in the policies is the adoption leave is limited to the post-childbirth period and counted either from the day the child arrives in the parents’ home, or the day parents leave to collect the child, if from another country.

An emerging trend is for parental or “child rearing” leaves to be offered on a full or part-time basis over an extended period of time. This allows either parent to remain at home or work part-time with job-protection and benefits. Usually, it can be taken over an extended time period, if desired, until a child’s third, fifth, or eighth year. Among the 29 industrialized countries, only 8 did not offer extended leave policies – these were: Australia, Ireland, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, Turkey and the United States. In Finland and Norway parental choice is supported by giving parents a cash benefit that can be used either to supplement income or to purchase care, at parents’ option.


Comment by professorplum

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