But a key part of nurturing also includes the capacity to "let go." It was that careful "letting-go" that fathers were particularly good at — in ways that mothers were often not. These unique contributions help underscore why so many findings suggest that when dads are not present children are more likely to suffer.
Arguments for the non-essential father may reflect an effort to be more accepting of the reality that many children grow up without their dads. But surely a more effective and compassionate approach would be to acknowledge the unique contributions of mothers and fathers in their children's lives, then do what we can to ensure that becomes a reality for more of our children.
Jenet Jacob Erickson teaches in the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University.
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