Myth 7: A married, live-in, biological father is always best.

ImageBarney was right. “A family is people and a family is love. That’s a family.” Research by the American Sociological Association shows that children receive the same benefits from any type of live-in father with very few exceptions. The study looked at how much time the youngest child spent with his/her biological mother in a variety of family structures that included biological fathers, stepfathers, or unmarried live-in partners. Across the board, children spend the same amount of time with the mother in all families. Children spent the least amount of time with live-in married stepfathers. And, oddly, they spent the same amount of time with live-in married biological fathers as they spent with unmarried live-in partners.

The study also showed that kids spend 5 hours per week more with mom than with dad, girls spend more time with mom and boys spend more time with dad. No surprise there. But this is interesting. When moms get especially busy at work and spend longer hours there, kids spend less time with her, but the same is not true for dads. When dad works unusually long hours in a week kids spend more time him. Read more details about this study…

A similar study was published in the Journal of Marriage and Family. It looked an children born to unmarried parents and the roles fathers played in their lives. Results of that study showed that married stepfathers were considerably more positively engaged in the lives of the children than the unmarried biological fathers. The conclusion for this group was that marriage is a better indicator of paternal involvement than biological attachment. Read more details about this study…

Myth 4: I can’t “make” hubby be a better dad.

ImageA study was published in the June 2008 issue of the Journal of Family Psychology. It looked at 97 couples in the Midwest who were married or cohabiting, and who were expecting a child when the study began. The couples completed a survey that probed their beliefs about the roles of fathers in taking care of children. About 3.5 months after the birth, researchers conducted an in-home assessment. What they found was that regardless of the fathers beliefs about how much they should be involved in childcare, the mothers attitude determined how much dads would act on their beliefs. If mom encouraged dad’s efforts, he would be a more attentive father. If she was critical, he would be less attentive. It seems the old adage is as true for fatherhood as for everything else, “You attract more bees with honey than vinegar.”

Read more from Ohio State where this study was lead by Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan