For several decades, ending in the 1970s, one prevailing fatherhood myth was that the crucial job of fathers was to model sex-role behavior for their sons. The trouble was, comparisons of masculinity in fathers and their sons showed little correlation. If fathers didn't make boys into men, researchers concluded, what role did they really serve?

This is one of the many, many examples of father stereotyping that I've found in the research for my book Do Fathers Matter? The new science of fatherhood. When this issue was looked at systematically, researchers found it wasn't the father's masculinity that was important in the development of his sons. Rather, it was the relationship between a father and his son. Paternal masculinity wasn't important, but a father's warmth and closeness to his sons was.

I am starting to post short items here that come out of my research, some of which will become part of the book, and some will not. I think you'll find these observations helpful as you think about yourself or the fathers in your life. I look forward to your comments.

You are reading

About Fathers

Should Neuroscience Save Tsarnaev From the Death Penalty?

Adolescents' still-developing brains could affect their guilt or innocence.

More on the Importance of Fathers from Susan Newman

Newman points out that I'm not the only one who thinks fathers are important.

The Most Faithful Males Make the Most Devoted Fathers

Owl monkey studies reveal link between fidelity and paternal care.