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Without Father Ado…

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By Tony Perkins

Moms can take on roles of teachers, nurses, chauffeurs, even janitors. But one job they can’t fill is dad’s. A lot about families has changed since the first Father’s Day in 1910. But one thing hasn’t — and that’s how important dads are. And that isn’t just Hallmark’s sentiment but researchers’ too. As far back as World War II, psychologists were concerned about the effect of a father’s absence on the home. They noticed that children weren’t developing relationships as well as other kids whose dads were directly engaged.

Those patterns continue to this day, as researchers uncover how a father’s involvement can make or break a child’s future. In Sweden, a team at Uppsala University is getting plenty of attention for shedding even more light on the irreplaceable impact of fathers in lowering everything from rates of juvenile delinquency to teenage dropouts. Even early in life, they found that kids whose dads played with them, read to them — even in disadvantaged homes — had higher IQs and were less likely to smoke. Just reading a book to a seven-year-old daughter and asking 16-year-old girls about school “helped to prevent depression and other psychological ailments in kids decades later.”

Daughters, especially, benefit from their dads protective and loving effect. Without it, they try to fill that void all the wrong ways — with sexual risk-taking and substance abuse. In a great wrap-up by Janice Crouse, the Washington Times highlights some of the more jaw-dropping statistics about dads. Believe it or not, author Paul Raeburn wrote, “the death rate of infants when the father is not around prior to their birth is nearly four times higher than when the prospective father is present helping to support the pregnant mother.”

Dads are not some premium accessory that some kids should have access to. There is absolutely no substitute for a hands-on, committed, loving dad. In a politically charged age like ours, some would have us believe a father’s presence is unnecessary. They’re wrong. Nothing can replace a father in a child’s life. This weekend, we celebrate the contributions of dads everywhere, I want to say thanks to my Dad, a man I greatly love and admire — Happy Fathers Day, Dad.

Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law.

(Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)

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