Where are all the Dads?

Just got around to reading some back issues of Dads and Daughters newsletter, and came away a bit stunned by the tidbit that, of all the research studies child psychology researchers have done in the past 8 years, only two percent of them studies published were devoted exclusively to fathers while 45 percent of those studies were devoted exclusively to mothers. The rest researched both mother and fathers.

Now, I’m not up on all the latest academia reports in pediatric psychology, but it goes without saying that, even to a lay person like me, that two percent number is shockingly low.

Perhaps some of the confusion comes from the fact that academics can’t even decide what a father is, or how to define that role.

(University of South Florida’s Dr. Vicky) Phares noted the irony of commonly being asked to define “father” in her research writing and presentations, although never being asked to define “mother.” It appears that the role of the mother is assumed to be filled by the primary caretaking biological mother for most children, whereas the role of the father might be filled by any number of male individuals, such as the biological father (who may or may not live with the child), the stepfather (who may or may not live with the child), or a father-figure (such as the mother’s boyfriend, an uncle, or a grandfather – any of whom may or may not live with the child). Thus, the question is a legitimate one, but it also conveys a lack of consensus about how to define fathers currently.

So, it’s pretty hard to study the effects of a father if you don’t even know who the fathers are.

The article the D&D newsletter refers to is is entitled Are Fathers Involved in Pediatric Psychology Research and Treatment and was a joint study between the University of South Florida and Yale University School of Medicine.

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