Do we need dads?

The Atlantic article "Are Fathers Necessary?" argues dads are not essential to raising children. (Thanks to the fabulous New York Times' Motherlode blog for alerting me to the story.)

Using data on the role of gender in child rearing collected by Judith Stacey, a professor of sociology at New York University, and Timothy Biblar, a demographer from the University of Southern California, writer Pamela Paul argues:

... single moms tend to be more involved, set more rules, communicate better, and feel closer to their children than single dads. They have less difficulty monitoring their children’s whereabouts, friendships, and school progress. Their children do better on standardized tests and have higher grades, and teenagers of single moms are actually less likely to engage in delinquent behavior or substance abuse than those of single dads. Go, Murphy Brown.

The quality of parenting, Biblarz and Stacey say, is what really matters, not gender. But the real challenge to our notion of the “essential” father might well be the lesbian mom. On average, lesbian parents spend more time with their children than fathers do. They rate disputes with their children as less frequent than do hetero couples, and describe co-parenting more compatibly and with greater satisfaction. Their kids perceive their parents to be more available and dependable than do the children of heteros. They also discuss more emotional issues with their parents. They have fewer behavioral problems, and show more interest in and try harder at school.

I know a lot of dads, including E., would vehemently disagree with that. What do you think about Paul's conclusions in the article? What unique aspects do dads bring to childrearing?






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