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Family Fact of the Week: Why Fathers Matter
Posted By Sarah Torre On June 14, 2012 @ 3:30 pm In Featured | Comments Disabled
This weekend, many Americans will be scouring stores for the latest tech toys or tools to express their gratitude to Dad this Father’s Day. While many will thank their fathers for the memories of fishing trips and driving lessons, the benefits of a father’s care and concern extend far beyond sports knowledge and handy-man skills.
As research on Heritage’s FamilyFacts.org  demonstrates, a father’s presence and involvement can have a significant impact  on his child’s social, economic, and relational well-being. Adolescents who spend leisure time with their fathers, eat meals together, and ask for Dad’s help with homework tend to earn better grades in school. Close father–teen bonds also help counteract the negative influence of peer pressure to use drugs, and they decrease the likelihood of early sexual activity among adolescents.
A father’s presence in the home can even affect a child’s physical health. Children living in married, mother-father households are almost half as likely to have ever been diagnosed with or still have asthma  as peers living in mother-only or parentless households. Likewise, teens who report having a positive relationship with their fathers exhibit fewer behavioral problems and lower levels of psychological stress .
The economic benefits of having a dad in the house can be profound . Married family households tend to have higher median incomes  and greater assets , and they are more likely to be homeowners  than other single-parent families. Moreover, parents choosing to tie the knot can decrease a child’s risk of living in poverty by about 80 percent .
However, fewer American children experience the comforts of being raised with the consistent presence of both parents. In 1960, just a few years before the first official  Father’s Day, a little over 5 percent of children were born to single women. Today, that number is over 40 percent .
With the unmarried birth rate high among young, undereducated women , single-mother households now comprise more than half of all families living in poverty . Without the relative financial stability marriage can provide, single parents and their children are at greater risk of government dependence. Of the roughly $400 billion  spent in 2010 on welfare funding to low-income families with children, almost three-quarters went to single-parent—and often fatherless—households.
Thankfully, there are ways that individuals, community leaders, and policymakers can help alleviate childhood poverty and promote the many benefits of married, mother-father households. By encouraging marriage  in low-income communities, teaching adolescents and young adults the economic and social benefits  of marriage, and reducing policy disincentives  to marriage, more children can avoid the pain of absent fathers and the risks of poverty.
Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News Blog from The Heritage Foundation: http://blog.heritage.org
URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2012/06/14/family-fact-of-the-week-why-fathers-matter/
URLs in this post:
 FamilyFacts.org: http://familyfacts.org/
 significant impact: http://familyfacts.org/briefs/13/beyond-breadwinner-how-fathers-make-a-difference-in-their-childrens-life-prospects
 half as likely to have ever been diagnosed with or still have asthma: http://familyfacts.org/charts/455/children-in-married-parent-families-are-less-likely-to-have-asthma-
 fewer behavioral problems and lower levels of psychological stress: http://familyfacts.org/briefs/25/why-fathers-matter
 can be profound: http://www.foundry.org/2011/06/17/morning-bell-fathers-day-and-the-importance-of-marriage/
 higher median incomes: http://familyfacts.org/charts/340/married-couple-families-have-higher-incomes
 assets: http://familyfacts.org/charts/350/married-households-have-more-assets
 are more likely to be homeowners: http://familyfacts.org/charts/353/married-couples-are-more-likely-to-be-homeowners
 decrease a child’s risk of living in poverty by about 80 percent: http://www.heritage.org/Research/Projects/Marriage-Poverty/Marriage-and-Poverty-in-the-US?utm_source=strategicmktg&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_campaign=culturewatch
 first official: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/37627653/ns/today-fathers_day_guide/t/years-later-its-new-day-dads/#.T9nnQbA7WAg
 over 40 percent: http://familyfacts.org/charts/205/four-in-10-children-are-born-to-unwed-mothers
 unmarried birth rate high among young, undereducated women: http://www.heritage.org/Research/Projects/Marriage-Poverty/Marriage-and-Poverty-in-the-US
 more than half of all families living in poverty: http://familyfacts.org/charts/325/single-mother-families-make-up-half-of-all-households-in-poverty
 $400 billion: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2010/09/marriage-america-s-greatest-weapon-against-child-poverty
 encouraging marriage: http://www.heritage.org/Research/Commentary/2010/10/Marriage-an-Important-Key-to-Avoiding-Poverty
 economic and social benefits: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2010/01/marriage-parentage-and-the-constitution-of-the-family
 policy disincentives: http://www.heritage.org/Research/Reports/2010/08/Making-Federal-Policy-Marriage-Friendly
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