The involvement of fathers in their children's' activities is recognized as a critical factor in early child development and the emotional well being of older children. This article examines research data on the importance of fathers' participation in the lives of their children, personal characteristics of involved and disengaged fathers, and activities that fathers more typically share with their children. The author notes that while activities such as helping with homework or engaging in religious activities might not seem special to many fathers, they are special to children and to their cognitive, social and emotional development. Activities ranging from performing chores, reading or playing games together all serve to enhance the security of children. Research also shows that children score higher on early math aptitude tests when they have played counting and other math-oriented games with their parents. Statistics on different types of activities father share with children are presented, as are a number of ways fathers can become involved in their child's education. Research findings on the importance of rules, limits and guidelines at home, at play and at school are also discussed, including television restrictions, as is data on the positive influence on child development of parental involvement in religious activities. 30 references, 2 tables.
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