A father is known as a man who exercises paternal care over other people. Most fathers are naturally protective, supportive, and responsible and are able to provide a number of significant benefits to themselves, their communities, and their children. Involved fathers offer developmentally specific provisions to their sons and daughters throughout the life cycle and are impacted themselves by their doing so. Active father figures have a key role to play in reducing behavior problems in boys and psychological problems in young women. For example, children who experience significant father involvement tend to exhibit higher scores on assessments of cognitive development, enhanced social skills and fewer behaviour problems
An increased amount of father–child involvement has also proven to increase a child’s social stability, educational achievement, and even their potential to have a solid marriage as an adult. The children are also more curious about the world around them and develop greater problem solving skills. Children who were raised without fathers perceive themselves to be less cognitively and physically competent than their peers from father-present families. Mothers raising children without fathers reported more severe disputes with their child. Sons raised without fathers showed more feminine but no less masculine characteristics of gender role behaviour.
According to the anthropologist Maurice Godelier, the parental role assumed by human males is a critical difference between human society and that of humans’ closest biological relatives—chimpanzees and baboons—who appear to be unaware of their "father" connection?
The father is often seen as an authority figure. A common observation among scholars is that the authority of the father and of the political leader are closely intertwined, that there is a symbolic identification between domestic authority and national political leadership. In this sense, links have been shown between the concepts of "patriarchal", "paternalistic", "cult of personality", "fascist", "totalitarian", and “Imperial. The fundamental common grounds between domestic and national authority, are the mechanisms of naming (exercise the authority in someone’s name) and identification. In a patriarchal society, authority typically uses such rhetoric of fatherhood and family to implement their rule and advocate its legitimacy.
In the Roman and aristocratic patriarchal family, "the husband and the father had a measure of political authority and served as intermediary between the household and the policy". In Western culture patriarchy and authority have been synonymous. In 19th-century Europe, the idea was common, among both traditionalist and revolutionaries, that the authority of the domestic father should "be made omnipotent in the family so that it becomes less necessary in the state". In the second part of that century, there was an extension of the authority of the husband over his wife and the authority of the father over his children, including "increased demands for absolute obedience of children to the father". Europe saw the rise of "new ideological hegemony of the nuclear family form and a legal codification of patriarchy", which was contemporary with the solid spread of the "nation-state model as political norm of order".
Non Human fathers.
For some animals, it is the fathers who take care of the young.
- Darwin’s Frog (Rhinoderma Darwini) fathers carry eggs in the vocal pouch.
- Most male waterfowls are very protective in raising their offspring, sharing scout duties with the female. Examples are the geese, swans, gulls, loons, and a few species of ducks. When the families of most of these waterfowls travel, they usually travel in a line and the fathers are usually the ones guarding the offspring at the end of the line while the mothers lead the way.
- The female seahorse (hippocampus) deposits eggs into the pouch on the male’s abdomen. The male releases sperm into the pouch, fertilizing the eggs. The embryos develop within the male’s pouch, nourished by their individual yolk sacs.
- Male Emperor Penguins alone incubate their eggs; females do no incubation. Rather than building a nest, each male protects his egg by balancing it on the tops of his feet, enclosed in a special brood pouch. Once the eggs are hatched however, the females will rejoin the family.
- Male beavers secure their offspring along with the females during their first few hours of their lives. As the young beavers mature, their fathers will teach them how to search for materials to build and repair their own dams, before they disperse to find their own mates.
- Wolf fathers help feed, protect, and play with their pups. In some cases, several generations of wolves live in the pack, giving pups the care of grandparents, aunts/uncles, and siblings, in addition to parents. The father wolf is also the one who does most of the hunting when the females are securing their newborn pups.
- Dolphin fathers help in the care of the young. Newborns are held on the surface of the water by both parents until they are ready to swim on their own.
- A number of bird species have active, caring fathers who assist the mothers, such as the waterfowls mentioned above.
- Apart from humans, fathers in few primate species care for their young. Those that do are tarmarines marmosets. Particularly strong care is also shown by siamangs where fathers carry infants after their second year. In titi and owl monkeys fathers carry their infants 90% of the time with "titi monkey infants developing a preference for their fathers over their mothers". Silverback gorillas have fewer roles in the families but most of them serve as an extra protecting the families from harm and sometimes approaching enemies to distract them so that his family can escape unnoticed.
Many species, though, display little or no paternal role in caring for offspring. The male leaves the female soon after mating and long before any offspring are born. It is the females who must do all the work of caring for the young.
- A male bear leaves the female shortly after mating and will kill and sometimes eat any bear cub he comes across, even if the cub is his. Bear mothers spend much of their cubs’ early life protecting them from males. (Many artistic works, such as advertisements and cartoons, depict kindly "papa bears" when this is the exact opposite of reality.)
- Domesticated dog fathers’ show little interest in their offspring and unlike wolves, are not monogamous with their mates and are thus likely to leave them after mating.
- Male lions will tolerate cubs, but only allow them to eat meat from dead prey after they have had their fill. Few are quite cruel towards their young and may hurt or kill them with little provocation. A male who kills another male to take control of his pride will also usually kill any cubs belonging to that competing male. However, it is also the males who are responsible for guarding the pride while the females hunt. It should also be noted however that the male lions are the only felines that actually have a role in fatherhood.
- Male rabbits generally tolerate kits but unlike the females, they often show little interest in the kits and are known to play rough with their offspring’s when they are mature, especially towards their sons. This behaviour, however, may also be part of an instinct to drive the young males away in order to prevent incest matings between the siblings. The females will eventually disperse from the warren as soon as they mature but the father does not drive them off like he normally does to the males.
- Horse stallions have little to no role in parenting, nor are they monogamous with their mates. They will tolerate foals to a certain extent, but because of their aggressive stallion nature, they are generally annoyed by the energetic exuberance of foals, and may hurt or even kill foals. Thus, stud stallions are not kept in the same pen as their foals or other mares.
Finally, in some species neither the father nor the mother provides any care
- This is true for most insects and fish.
What determines parenthood?
Since Roman times fatherhood has been determined with this famous sentence: Mater semper certa; pater est quem nuptiae demonstrant ("The [identity of the] mother is always certain; the father is whom the marriage vows indicate"). The historical approach has been destabilized with the recent emergence of accurate scientific testing, particularly DNA testing. As a result, the law on fatherhood is undergoing rapid changes.
Like mothers, human fathers may be categorized according to their biological, social or legal relationship with the child. Historically, the biological relationship paternity has been determinative of fatherhood. However, proof of paternity has been intrinsically problematic and so social rules often determined who would be regarded as a father, e.g. the husband of the mother.
An individual who is a genetic chimera could theoretically have more than one biological father. No example of this has been reported but human chimeras were unknown to exist until recently and scientists are currently uncertain as to the extent of chimerism within the human population.
The most familiar English terms for father include dad, daddy, papa, pop and pa, etc. Other colloquial expressions include my old man. In Africa it’s mostly baba, Tate etc.