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A recent book called “Do Fathers Matter?” questions the significance that fathers play in the lives of their children. It also raises the question whether parents engaged in a contested divorce should reexamine the father’s involvement with his children in their negotiations.

One part of the book examines the findings of a University of Arizona professor who conducted research on families with two daughters. He studied two daughter families whose parents had been through divorce, as well as those who had not. The researcher wanted to figure out why girls who had fathers absent or not around much in their lives experienced the onset of puberty sooner than girls with present fathers. His conclusion was that the absence of a father in a girl’s life can have an effect on her transition from childhood to becoming a woman.

Another study reviewed in the book is a finding by a pair of language experts who looked at the effect of fathers on their children’s vocabulary. They found that fathers tend to use words around kids that they haven’t heard before and that experience expands the child’s vocabulary.

Still another expert says that money contributed by a father is perhaps the most important thing. According to that expert, poverty is by far the worst thing that a child can undergo that can adversely affect them. The expert says that a father working long hours to keep a child out of poverty might actually be of greater benefit than his physical presence.

People going through a contested divorce often have a lot on their minds. They are worried about things like property division, alimony or perhaps even relocating out of state. Whatever the cause of the disagreement, it is important to remember that whenever children are involved in a divorce, their best interests should always take precedence. Parents should take care to include room in their debates for reasonable child support and parental visitation planning.

Source: Vox, “How dads improve their kids’ lives, according to science” Eleanor Barkhorn, Jun. 14, 2014

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