The Dad Difference

A formative, family-friendly factoid from a survey or study in the news.

It’s copiously documented that boys raised in fatherless homes are at very high risk of messing up their lives. Less well established is just what it is that men bring to parenting. Research on that question is “sparse but intriguing,” according to a recent report in Time magazine. The article cites the work of Eleanor Maccoby of Stanford University, who has found that “fathers are less likely than mothers to modify their language when speaking to their children, thus challenging their kids to expand vocabulary and cognitive skills.” Also quoted is educational psychologist Carol Gilligan, who points out that fathers tend to enforce rules more strictly and systematically. And Armin Brott, author of several books on fatherhood, told the magazine: “Having a father isn’t magic, but it really does make a difference for the kids.”