Science Says: Dads Think It’s What’s On the Outside That Counts

You know how it’s your very favorite when someone tells you your kid looks exactly like their dad? Obviously implying to your new-mother brain, which is coursing with unchartered hormonal rage, that maybe, even though you just carried that child for nearly 10 months and gave excruciating birth to him after 28 hours of back labor, just maybe…you should get a maternity test?

Okay, slight exaggeration, but still, I get it. My son is his father’s mini-me and sometimes hearing about it gets to me.

But it turns out, children who look like their fathers may actually have a healthier early childhood. A new study, published in the Journal of Health Economics, revealed that fathers who see a strong physical resemblance in their newborn infants tend to feel a stronger paternal bond and consequently remain more positively involved in the child’s life. According to this study and several previous ones, a father’s investment is especially beneficial for young children. It has been shown to increase social, academic, emotional, and economic well-being, and that’s major.

To make the picture a little clearer, this research showed that “the average nonresident father spends about 2.5 days (per month) longer in parenting activities when the child resembles him.”

The shocking part? Those 2.5 days of investment could mean a 25% overall health improvement for the child. That should make every dad jump in with both feet.

And while this particular study focused on single-mother households, the fact remains that when both parents are highly involved, every type of family is stronger for it.

 

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