Attachment theory provides powerful information about parenting and parenting-time schedules. Although most of the research into attachment is focused on mothers, there is powerful evidence to indicate that fathers are just as important to raising healthy children. In any individual case, it may be that the father is just as nurturing as the mother, more nurturing, or less nurturing but able to meet other needs the child has.
Attachment is about protecting children from danger. Mothers often are the primary person to meet their infant child’s need for food and warm touch. In some situations fathers may meet this need as well as or better than mothers, such as in cases of extreme danger. For many families, meeting a child’s basic attachment need is just the start. Children also need to learn how play, to explore the world, and develop skills needed for when they grow up. Also, a father may be able to better meet their child’s need for healthy (attachment-based) discipline.
The Finnish 10-year follow up study referenced below, surprisingly found that a father’s own attachment experience may have a different and even more profound impact than the mother’s on their child’s attachment. This may indicate that both mothers and fathers have important but different impacts on how their child’s brain develops.
To maximize father involvement and parenting-abilities, we have a number of resources and guidance-sheets we recommend fathers to utilize.
For some technical resources:
Attachment-Focused Parenting: Effective Strategies to Care for Children, Daniel Hughes
Whole Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture your Child’s Developing Mind, by Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson
Mind in The Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs, by Ellen Galinsky (More complex that WBC, but a richer set of suggestions.)
Fathers as Core Business in Child Welfare Practice and Research: An Interdisciplinary Review, Zanoni, Warburton, Bussey, & McMauhg, Children and Youth Services Review, 35, 1055-1070 (2013)
Fathers’ and Mothers’ Attachment Representations as Predictors of Preadolescents’ Attachment Security: A Ten-Year Follow Up of Finnish Families, Kouvo, Voeten, & Silven, Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 56, 527-536 (2015)