Only 15 percent to 25 percent of noncustodial dads visit with their kids weekly.

The Importance of a Father Role With Divorced Parents

by Jeva Anand

After a divorce, fathers need to be involved in their children's lives, as long as it doesn't pose a danger to the family. Not only are dads who see their kids regularly more likely to pay child support, keeping them involved in children's lives benefits them in the toddlers years and pays off in the long run.

1. Emotional Well-being

A divorce can strain an adult's emotional resources to breaking point, but toddlers are just beginning to learn how to manage their feelings. They often express their stress and confusion in the form of tantrums and aggressive behavior, appetite loss and difficulties falling asleep. Toddlers might even regress in their development and return to sucking their thumbs and wetting their beds. A father's active involvement can reduce these divorce-related stress symptoms because they help establish a sense of stability for the child.

2. Cognitive Development

Fathers play an important role in their children's early cognitive development. Even after the divorce, it's crucial for dads to remain involved during the toddler years. Toddlers learn about their world through their senses. They learn by actively experimenting, manipulating objects and taking risks. Fathers give toddlers more leeway to actively explore their surroundings. While dads are not reckless, they also tend to be less protective than moms when it comes to risk-taking situations.

3. Gender Roles

Children begin learning gender roles at an early age, and positive father roles are critical to their development. Over time, sons might learn how to treat women by watching how their fathers treat women and daughters who have good relationships with their fathers grow up to be more self-confident in their abilities and appearance.

4. Single Dads

Ten percent of children from divorced families live with their dads. While married, fathers might leave basic care, such as feeding, bathing and diapering to the mother. But single dads have been shown to be just as capable, sensitive and nurturing as moms. Children develop deep emotional attachments to their dads as early as infancy. In addition, kids in single-father households are more likely to develop good relationships with both parents. That's because noncustodial moms tend to be more successful in maintaining contact with their kids.

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