Only recently, pediatric psychologists and sociologists start to appreciate the role fathers play for the mental and intellectual development of children. In the past, it was "good practise" to marginalize any role of the paternal half of the parents. Although classical genetics has shown without any doubt that the inherited DNA variants from both parents are equally important for the traits such as skin or eye colour, blood groups, body heights, facial shape and many more, features of personality, in particular mentality of a person was usually considered to be formed predominantly by a mother-child relationship.
There was, however, on exception: psychatric problems such as depression, borderline syndromes or schizophrenia were frequently attributed to inappropriate behaviour of the father towards his children. Physical or mental violence against the mother or the chrildren themself, neglectance or even sexual abuse by fathers are "common sense" factors with a long lasting, detrimental effect on the mental health.
In 2013, the US National Organization for Woman still considered any positive effect of a fathers involvement of childcare "A myth". But also serious scientific studies used to ingnore any benefical influence of a joint mother and father eductaion of their children. Many psycho-social studies on children and adolescents used to classify the "Type of Maternal Behaviour" simply as “Baby given to father” , as if on a scale from careful to neglecting parental habit, a responsibility by the father must be the worst case.
Recently, an accomplished science journalist and father of five, Paul Raeburn has published a book that sheds a new look on this issue. "Do Fathers Matter?” is an odd reading experience. As you make your way through the scientific studies that Raeburn has assembled—the book touches on everything from prairie voles and Neanderthals to “the caudate, a deep brain structure associated with feelings of love”—you can’t help but notice the weirdness of the question it poses. Asking whether a father “matters” to a child verges on nonsense; it’s like asking whether the radius matters to the circle, or whether the root matters to the branch. Fathers matter to children in a simple way—without them, they wouldn’t exist—and in a way that is too complicated to explain. Like it or not, our families are part of who we are, in ways we can and cannot know. It’s the biology, though, that I find myself still thinking about. “Do Fathers Matter?” is a strange book, because it tries to answer a question about families in mainly statistical, biological terms. But the truth is that we inherit from our parents a mixture of the personal and the impersonal. It matters that our fathers were kind to us when we were children or teen-agers—that they loved us—and, on Father’s Day, we’re grateful for those kindnesses.