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The importance of having an active father throughout a child’s life should not be diminished by his secondary role in giving birth or by his traditional absence from daytime home life due to work obligations. In fact, recent studies reveal that a father’s role is more important than we previously realized. “Those contributions begin during pregnancy, before fathers and their children have even met. …[T]he death rate of infants whose fathers were not around during pregnancy is nearly four times that of those with engaged dads. And depression in fathers during their partners’ pregnancies can increase the child’s lifelong risk of depression.”
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Fathers also play essential roles in building the language capabilities of their children and defining a healthy and responsible sexual life. “When fathers used more words with their children during play, children had more advanced language skills a year later. And that is likely also linked with later success in school.” When Frayser High School in Memphis, Tenn., attracted national attention for its high teen-pregnancy rate, sociologists found that one in four households was headed by a single mother. This confirmed earlier findings of “a robust association between father absence…and accelerated reproductive development and sexual risk-taking in daughters.”