The growing field of father sciences has lead to more and more research about how vital you are even before your baby is born. As nice at it is for those nerds to finally notice your importance, with great power comes great responsibility (and movie references). A new study published in the journal Early Human Development suggests your presence in the delivery room could set up your kid for fewer developmental risks down the road. And that’s a great reason to get over the fear of your wife pooping on the table.
Researchers looked at 6,000 infants who participated in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, as well as a subsample of fathers. The data was deemed “quasi-experimental” because they utilized a method known as propensity score matching (PSM). PSM — not to be confused with PMS, which you’ve had a welcomed break from — is a data design that “aims to isolate the effect of a treatment variable on the outcome variable(s) of interest when a true experiment is not practical or ethical.”
Because randomly assigning fathers to be less involved would be both impractical and unethical, researchers instead used PSM to create statistically equivalent groups, which is complicated. What you need to know is that this way they could assess the relationship between paternal involvement during key stages of development and developmental diagnoses (such as ADHD) without ruining anyone’s childhood.
After measuring for activity, attention, and learning, speech or language, and other diagnoses in early childhood when kids reached age 4, researchers did not find a consistent link between paternal prenatal or postnatal involvement and these diagnoses (bummer). However, the link between fathers being absent during delivery and these problems in their kids later in life was as clear as your spouse yelling “You did this to me!” Think of birth as the first of many big games or recitals for your kid. No matter how long or brutal it may be, you better park it in the front row.