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The importance of fathers and joint-custody arrangements

There is no question that both fathers and mothers are extremely important in a child's life. While mothers often act as the caretakers and nurturers, fathers give children a sense of safety and encourage children to explore their environment. Fathers may act as a protector, disciplinarian and confidants as well.

In fact, there is a long list of positive traits that fathers can bring to a child's life. This highlights the reasons why it is good for children to spend a significant amount of time with both their mother and father, according to the American Psychological Association. Although joint-custody agreements may seem daunting, as children are forced to travel back and forth between mom and dads' houses, research shows that children who are subjected to joint-custody arrangements may have an advantage over those who are raised in sole-custody households.

A review of 33 studies involving joint-custody children, sole-custody children and traditional families found that children raised in a joint-custody household had a higher self-confidence, performed better in school and experienced fewer emotional problems. As they get older, children who have had consistent exposure to their fathers are more likely to have successful careers, have a better psychological wellbeing, complete higher levels of education and have more supportive social networks.

Studies also show that dads do not have to act as super fathers to make an impact. While there are exceptions in certain situations, many fathers can make a positive impact simply by being present in their child's life. Ideally, parents will work together to ensure children are exposed to both parents. 


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