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Do Fathers Matter?: What Science Is Telling Us About the Parent We've Overlooked Hardcover – June 3, 2014

4.2 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Raeburn's book reveals the fascinating ways in which dads matter to children, and how children matter to dads . . . at center stage here is Raeburn's ability to present research in ways both engaging and clear.” ―Jenni Laidman, Chicago Tribune

“A thought-provoking field piece on the science of fatherhood, studded with insights on how to apply it in the real world” ―Alex Stone, The New York Times (Science)

“A zippy tour through the latest research on fathers' distinctive, or predominant, contributions to their children's lives, Do Fathers Matter? is filled with provocative studies of human dads--not to mention a lot of curious animal experiments . . . [Paul Raeburn] writes clearly, untangling cause from effect, noting probabilities and inserting caveats. . . he is an ideal guide to tricky, uncertain research in a nascent field. . . . father research cuts across disciplines, and Mr. Raeburn excels at mapping the twistiness of the road ahead.” ―Mark Oppenheimer, The New York Times

“Raeburn shows with mounting evidence the role of the father and his effect on the care and nurturing of children . . . As the father of a rapidly growing and changing little girl, I gained more from Raeburn's work than all the daddy lit put together.” ―Kent Black, The Boston Globe

“[Do Fathers Matter? is] a clear-eyed march through the history of family studies and a helpful review of the new generation of research devoted to identifying the impact of dads . . . [it] gathers an impressive diversity of studies into a single, highly readable volume, covering such topics as conception, pregnancy, infants, teenagers and aging fathers.” ―Bruce Feiler, The Washington Post

“[Raeburn's] lively tour through the latest research in biology, ethology, psychology, sociology and neuroscience is intriguing.” ―Joshua Kendall, Los Angeles Times

“A valuable, compelling book for fathers, mothers, grandparents and parents-to-be -- and perhaps even for their children . . . Do Fathers Matter? uncovers a trove of good research about fathers and parenting.” ―Kevin Begos, Associated Press

“[Do Fathers Matter?] aims to dispel [the] uncertainty about fathers' roles in their children's lives...Raeburn's broad argument--that fathers have been maligned, even though they matter as much as mothers--is convincingly made.” ―Joshua Rothman, The New Yorker

“[Do Fathers Matter] is dedicated to presenting the most remarkable of those hidden studies about dads to the layperson, and arguing that the evidence suggests fathers do matter, in ways that conform to conventional wisdom as well as in some that may be surprising.” ―Andy Hinds, The Daily Beast

“A wide-ranging plea for both genders to remember that dads are not also-rans in the business of child rearing.” ―Lenore Skenazy, The New York Times Book Review

“A good, solid piece of science journalism . . . stuffed with studies showing the vital role fathers play in their children's lives from the moment of conception, through the mother's conception onward.” ―Jeffrey Kluger, Time

“[Do Fathers Matter?] is astounding in its scope and perspective on fatherhood, with some of its revelations being downright shocking.” ―Janice Shaw Crouse, The Washington Times

“A warm, enjoyable collection of stories about the science of fatherhood . . . a highly readable account.” ―Peter B. Gray, Psychology Today

“When science journalist Paul Raeburn first assessed the available research on fathers, he found the pickings decidedly slim. Scientists are now redressing the balance, and Raeburn has rounded up key findings in developmental psychology, evolutionary biology, genetics and neuroscience.” ―Nature

“I recommend Do Fathers Matter? to anyone who has ever wondered if indeed fathers are as important as mothers when it comes to setting the stage for success later in life. My prediction is you will be able to relate to Raeburn's well-developed and wonderfully executed book in a way that will change the way you feel about both of your parents.” ―Aaron W. Hughey, Bowling Green Daily News

“As food for thought, [Do Fathers Matter?] provides an ample helping for anyone willing to look at the ways fathers are portrayed, the realities of male parenting and all the gray areas in between.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“Whisking readers through research in evolutionary biology, psychology, sociology, and genetics to provide a 'new understanding of the biology of fatherhood,' Raeburn is on comfortable ground discussing the hard science, such as the discovery of imprinted genes, and his personal concern about the 'medical price' paid by older fathers...Raeburn's attempt to promote the modern father as a 'similarly nurturing and attentive' parent might indeed help, as he hopes, prompt a more informed cultural conversation.” ―Publishers Weekly

“To answer the provocative question ‘Do fathers matter?,' Paul Raeburn draws extensively on cutting-edge science, animal research, neurobiology, and large-population studies. Anyone interested in parenthood, human development, and culture must read this thoughtful book.” ―Gretchen Rubin, bestselling author of Happier at Home and The Happiness Project

“A must-read book for anyone who cares about the well-being of children, Do Fathers Matter? is a scientifically rigorous paean to the importance of fathers. Writing with grace and clarity, Paul Raeburn turns conventional wisdom on its head and places fathers, right alongside mothers, on a well deserved pedestal.” ―Susan Cain, bestselling author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

“A thoughtful, sensitive, and nuanced exploration of how fathers enrich the lives of children.” ―Robert E. Emery, Director of the Center for Children, Families, and the Law at the University of Virginia, and author of The Truth About Children and Divorce

“Dispelling one myth after another, Do Fathers Matter? offers a detailed, state-of-the-art map of a much neglected and misunderstood terrain--the unique, complex, and powerful role fathers play in the healthy development of children. From anthropological studies to the latest brain research, Paul Raeburn gives us a thorough, eye-opening, and moving account that will change your vision of men in families forever. A tour de force.” ―Terry Real, family therapist, founder of the Relational Life Institute, and bestselling author of I Don't Want to Talk About It, How Can I Get Through to You?, and The New Rules of Marriage

“Outdated myths and perceptions about fatherhood continue to exist, but Paul Raeburn's comprehensive, scientific approach lays them all to waste. If you doubt a father's importance or capabilities as a parent, this indispensable read should change your mind.” ―Doug French, cofounder, Dad 2.0 Summit

“Do fathers matter? Yes, they do, and Paul Raeburn shows us why, in the most engaging and illuminating way imaginable. Delving into psychology, biology, sociology, and history, Raeburn returns with rich insights and practical lessons for today's dads, and for the sons, daughters, and partners who love them. Do Fathers Matter? fills a gap in our knowledge about parenting, but it also opens broad new vistas that we scarcely knew existed--until the science of fatherhood, and its chronicler Paul Raeburn, came along to reveal them.” ―Annie Murphy Paul, author of The Cult of Personality Testing, Origins, and Brilliant: The Science of How We Get Smarter

“Paul Raeburn does a fantastic job of exploring the science of fatherhood as well as the myths that have affected how we think about fathers. With a keen understanding of science and a journalist's commitment to hard facts and data, he sheds light on what is known about men as fathers--and what's yet to be discovered. Ultimately, Raeburn answers the title's question, ‘Do fathers matter?,' with an emphatic yes.” ―Josh Levs, CNN journalist and "dad blogger," fathers' rights advocate, and author of a forthcoming book on modern fatherhood

About the Author

Paul Raeburn is a journalist and the author of four books, including Acquainted with the Night. His stories have appeared in Discover, The Huffington Post, The New York Times Magazine, and Psychology Today, among many other publications. A past president of the National Association of Science Writers, Raeburn has been a science editor at BusinessWeek and the Associated Press; and the creator and host of Innovations in Medicine on XM satellite radio. Raeburn lives in New York City with his wife, the writer Elizabeth DeVita-Raeburn, and their children.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition (June 3, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374141045
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374141042
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #354,898 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Dennis Meredith on June 4, 2014
Format: Hardcover
This fascinating, clearly written book contains a wealth of information about fathers’ importance to their children—both psychological and biological. Conversely, it explores how children affect their fathers—again both psychologically and biologically. The book should be a must-read for fathers, mothers, family psychologists, and any other professionals who deal with family issues. It should also be a standard text in any course about the family. The author answers the book’s title question “Do Fathers Matter?” with a resounding yes! And he offers the eye-opening evidence to back that answer up. This evidence comes from not only studies involving humans, but those on fathering in monkeys, birds, mice, rats, and voles. When I was reading the book, I marked with sticky notes the information I found most interesting and surprising. I ran out of sticky notes and ended up with a book festooned with them!
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Format: Kindle Edition
book and who better to deliver the not-so-obvious answer to this question in the title? Science has too long regarded Mom as the walking incubator of her childrens' character and fortunes, while Dad was relegated to near-irrelevance. But award-winning writer Paul Raeburn delivers the definitive science governing fatherhood in a delicious, wide-ranging discussion of the "parent we've overlooked."

We learn the often-surprising ways in which Dad shapes his childrens' medical fates. But Raeburn has achieved more. His evenhanded, mature tone flies above the facile jealousies that too often hijack such discussions. Early on, for example, he takes care to note that "The evidence shows that fathers make important and unique contributions to their children in many ways. It emphatically does not show that the children in families without fathers in the home are doomed to failure, or anything close to that. "
Read this book: You'll learn a lot, and love it.
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Format: Hardcover
1. Darwinistic downing of fatherhood is on the way out.
2. Social sciences have contributed to dad devaluation.
3. Lamb study finds infants prefer father to hold them.
4. Fewer fathers involved in children's lives than ever.
5. Fathers contribute to language and mental development.
6. Children often think of their fathers as playmates.
7. Children of fathers engaged in enjoyable play popular.
7. Fathers encourage risk-taking by being less protective.
8. Children's socialization is accelerated by fathers.
9. Adolescents with dads: less delinquency and depression.
10. Fathers help deter daughters from sex, teen pregnancy.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Light reading, since science doesn't tell us all that much about why fathers matter. Still, what science does say about fathers proves how much good fathers, fathers who are present and conscientious, matter to children, mothers, all of us. Buy it as a gift for every man you know who resists marrying the "mother of my child" because he thinks neither mother nor child really needs him. Buy it for the married man who needs a little encouragement to stick with his marriage. Marriage is not easy, especially with kids, but the devastation of the lack of it is evident in this study.
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Format: Hardcover
If you are going to read a book about fathers, you might as well get one by a veteran science writer who knows how to weave solid data into a page-turning narrative. Get this book for your father, for your mother, for your children's father, and for yourself, if you are curious about the science and history (and future) of parenting.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Raeburn's decades of experience as a science journalist are on display here. The explanations of academic papers are clear for a layperson yet precise. Some of the results are actionable for current fathers of under-18 children, but the book is not a self-help text. For example, Raeburn cites research that girls who became popular had fathers who played with them in a "non-directive" way.

One interesting question that Raeburn explores is why humans have involved fathers when most species of mammals don't. (He also covers the implications of America's relatively recent, as compared with the time-scale of human evolution, innovation of encouraging the production and rearing fatherless children via the divorce, custody, and child support systems.)
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Format: Hardcover
As a new dad myself I found the book to be a refreshing affirmation of my own desire to be actively involved in my son's early life. Raeburn uses scientific studies to weave a compelling narrative that clearly drives home the point - yes, fathers do matter. Companies should use the evidence he presents to provide better family-friendly and paternity leave policies.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Did not know about the ongoing research pertaining to fatherhood until I heard the interview with Paul Raeburn on Fresh Air. The discussion was so interesting that I had to buy the book. The book was very informative and detailed bringing to light the importance of being a father. I also enjoyed how Raeburn wrote this book for everyone whether college educated or not.
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