The State Of America’s Fathers is on the upswing, with more information than ever before about what dads do, why it matters, and what dads could do better (because researchers aren’t mad, they’re just disappointed). Dads have come so far in the past decade that the American Academy of Pediatrics decided to measure it with a 10 year review of the growing body of research on “the father sciences” — congratulations, you’re now an area of study.
The report, titled Fathers’ Roles In The Care And Development Of Their Children: The Role Of Pediatricians focused on how the involvement of dads has changed over time, and how that’s impacted the health of their children at different stages in their lives. Their findings show that you’re doing a good job, and the job you do matters (go ahead and forward it to the missus). Plus, they’re the AAP, so the probably know something you don’t, including the following facts.
You’re Increasing In Number
The U.S. Census reports that the number of the number of fathers increased from 60.1 million in 2000 to 70.1 million in 2012. Though it’s exciting to be a part of a growing club, it does little to explain where all the babies are going.
And That Means More Stay At Home Dads
The Census began counting stay at home dads for the first time in 2003, when it found 98,000 of them. By 2007, the number increased more than 60 percent, to 159,000. And by 2012 it was at 189,000. That’s if you believe the government; the PEW Research Center puts this number at 2.2 million, which apparently amounts to a lot of men who would like to be called something else.
You’re Taking Family Leave, Even If It’s Not Paid
The report cites a study that looked at Fathers employed by Fortune 500 companies, which found 85 percent of them took up to 2 weeks off unpaid. The majority reported being more stressed about finding a work life balance than mothers. Score one for gender equality (but who are you kidding? You’re both stressed as hell).
You Affect Your Kid’s Health Before They’re Born
Studies have shown that a father’s mental health and psychological distress during pregnancy can lead to emotional problems up until 36 months of age. And don’t even think about drinking too much to deal with that stress, because that could mess with your unborn kid too. This information will hopefully lead to more fathers taking better care of themselves before the stork even lands.
Skin To Skin Contact Is Important For You, Too
You don’t have to be the one doing the breast feeding for your skin to matter. One cited study compared fathers who utilized skin-to-skin contact with those that didn’t, and found their babies cried less, became drowsier sooner, and generally slept better. Consider that another excuse to take you shirt off in your home.
You Key To Your Kid Learning To Talk
Sorry moms, but research looking at 3 year old kids found that father-child communication was a significant predictor of advanced language, but mother-child communication was not. Experts suspect this may be because dads are more likely to introduce new words into their kid’s vocabulary, and no not just the swear words.
Roughhousing Is A Development Imperative
Another study of boys found that roughhousing and other forms of aggressive play between fathers and preschoolers lead to fewer behavioral problems and more social competence. So tell the missus keep calm and wrestle on.
You Keep Being Important As Your Kid Gets Older
The report points out several national longitudinal studies that found father involvement led to a decrease in at-risk behavior in adolescent boys. Comparable research on teenage girls showed that such engagement resulted in improved cognitive development, social responsiveness, independence, and gender role development.
You Might Have Postpartum Issues, Too
Despite the fact that new fathers are only 1.38 times more likely to be depressed than men without kids, when mothers experience postpartum depression the odds of fathers developing depression too jumps up to 50 percent. You’re much better off catching the flu from each other.
Dad Bods Matter
If you’re worried about your kid becoming obese, you should be worried about yourself. Research finds your weight is a significant predictor of your kid being overweight, while their mother’s weight, not so much. It’s nice that science finally noticed your body; unfortunately, it’s telling you to back away from the burger.