One of the essential pillars of The Fathering Project is research which incorporates the use of up to date research to guide our activities, information dissemination and program evaluation plus the conduct of research to advance the knowledge of the impact of a father on the development of children.

How fathers and father figures can shape child health and wellbeing

Investigators, Dr Lisa Wood and Estee Lambin of The University of Western Australia undertook a meta analysis on how fathers and father figures can shape child health and wellbeing.

The key themes that emerged from the literature regarding the impact of a father includes:

Wood and Lambin's research explained in a graph

Ref: How Fathers & Father Figures Can Shape Child Health & Wellbeing, Wood & Lambin (2013)

You can read up on Wood and Lambin’s How Father and Father Figures Can Shape Child Health and Wellbeing research.

LSAC data

A review of the Australian Evidence of the Impact of Fathering by Dr Stacey Waters and Dr Leanne Lester is now available. The data has been collated by The Fathering Project through the exploration of fathering variables in Australia’s LSAC data –  Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. LSAC has a sample size of 10,000 and has measured child and infant cohorts over the past 10 years.

Effective fathers display warmth toward their child, believe in their ability to parent well, are able to reason with their child, are involved in their child’s life and parent well with their partner.  Ineffective parents are over-protective, hostile toward their child, angry and have argumentative relationships with their partners.  Each of these characteristics has a unique influence on a child’s health, social, emotional and academic outcomes.

The main findings of this report are:

  • Fathers matter;
  • Fathers self-efficacy and warmth in parenting are the most powerful predictors of children’s improved health, academic, social and emotional outcomes;
  • The age and occupation of a father matters.  Younger parents report more anger, hostile and over-protective than older parents, yet were more consistent with their parenting and had fewer argumentative relationships.  Men with trade and production occupations have on average, poorer fathering skills;
  • Children who have a father or father figure live with them throughout their life have better learning outcomes, general health, emotional wellbeing and fewer problem behaviours;
  • While mothers have a significant influence on their child’s health, academic, social and emotional outcomes, after accounting for this, fathers have a unique and diverse role in improving outcomes for their child;
  • A father’s influence on their child’s outcomes becomes most prominent when children reach school age;
  • Fathers who consistently parent well over time have children who perform better academically, socially, emotionally and enjoy better health and development.

Other research sources

Australian Research Alliance for Children & Youth

The Australian Research Alliance for Children & Youth progresses and promotes evidence-based programs and strategies to improve the wellbeing of children and youth. You may find information from this organisation that may be of interest to you.

The National Fatherhood Initiative

The National Fatherhood Initiative, a United States non-for-profit organisation, provides relevant information that may be of interest to you. The NFI’s mission is to improve the well-being of children by increasing the proportion of children with involved, responsible, and committed fathers in their lives. See also:

Father Involvement Research Alliance

The Father Involvement Research Alliance (FIRA), an organisation based in Canada, is no longer an active organisation, but the information provided on their website is based on their research during the period of 2004 to 2009. The information you find may be of interest to you.