Father: The Complete Reference Guide

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According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary a father is a man who has begotten a child. The traditional definition is quite straightforward. That said, we can all agree that the male doesn't have to be the biological parent to be called a dad.

I prefer another definition: A father is a male parent of the child (Wikipedia).

Keep reading if you wish to know about the topic!

If you're dad-to-be, then you may also want to read what you should pack to hospital.

Types of fathers

Biological father (also known as a birth dad)

A biological father is a man who provides the sperm cell that combines with the mother’s egg for fertilization. It means that he's the genetic contributor to the creation of an infant (source).  The child will carry the genes of the dad, and the father usually has societal and legal rights to the child. 

Wondering why I don't merely say that if a man has sex with a female to conceive a child, then he becomes a biological dad?

You forget other possibilities:

  • Intrauterine insemination (IUI)
  • Traditional IVF (in vitro fertilization)
  • IVF with ICSI (intracytoplasmatic sperm injection)
  • Donor sperm

Not an ordinary biological father

Besides having rights to his children, a father is usually obligated to raise, protect and guide them. 

In life, everything's not black and white though...

Surprise father

The dad does not know he has a child with a woman that he had sexual relations with until many years later. 

Surprise Father
Putative father

A man who claims (or is alleged) to be the biological parent of a child but there isn't any proof. He's not married to the mother of a child.

Putative father
Presumed father

The law presumes that he's the legal dad until proved otherwise (source). He may not be the biological father though.

Presumed father
Baby Daddy

A man who is the biological parent of a child, but is not involved with the mother.

Teenage father

A teenage dad is still in his adolescent years when he has a child. 

Teenage birth rates are a public health concern. The role of youthful fathers has not gained much attention though. In 2011  Stefanie Mollborn and Peter J. Lovegrove published a study (source) where they focused on the role of youthful dads. Their research has some limitations, but they can make some conclusions.

They found out that:

Having a teenage dad isn't in itself bad.

AND

There aren't significant differences in child-dad relationships between teen fathers and adult fathers.

BUT

Children of teenage fathers had lower cognitive and behavior scores at age two than the children of adult dads. They thought that it's explained by two factors:

1) Teenage fathers married less often

2) The households of teenage fathers usually have a low socioeconomic status


Posthumous father

In this case, the dad passed away before the child was born. The posthumous dad could also have become the parent if the mother received IUI or IVF.

Sperm donor

Someone who donates sperm to a medical facility that specializes in IUI or IVF. Although the donor is the biological parent, he may not be legally responsible for the child. It depends on the contract and the law in your country if a sperm donor has parental rights and obligations.

The law is complex and may change. For example, Australian state retroactively erased the anonymity of sperm and egg donors (source). So it's advisable to consult a law attorney before becoming a sperm donor.


Non-biological father

Non-biological fathers don't share genetic material with their children. That said, they may have all the same rights and obligations as biological fathers. Their relationship with their children is also as deep.

Non biological father is as important

Adoptive father

He became the parent by going through the adoption process.

Foster father

Foster dad cares for the child instead of the birth dad or adoptive father. He allows him or her to be a part of his family but usually does not become the legal parent.

Stepdad or mother's husband

A man that marries a woman that already has children is called a stepdad. He takes on the dad’s role but does not have any legal ties to the kids. He can also be called a "social father."

Cuckolded father

In this case, the child was conceived in an adulterous relationship by the mother.

To the relief on all men, this situation is quite rare. Studies have shown that only up to 3% of children are cuckoos in the nest (source).


Di Dad

Di Dad needs to use donor insemination to create children because he is infertile.

Father-in-law

The father of one's spouse.

Fatherhood defined by contact level

Absent dad

Absent dad can't or will not spend time with his child. 

Second dad

A male figure that takes on the role of a dad. The bond between the child and the second father is near parental.

Stay-at-home-dad

The dad stays home and performs the duties of a housewife while the mother goes to work and earns a living.

According to the Pew Research Centre, 16% of stay-at-home parents were fathers in 2012 (in the U.S). It's interesting to note that people generally support (or so they say) gender equity. That said, the support for stay-at-home-dads is declining (source). 

It's the opinion of the writer that it's up to partners to decide who should stay home. There can be many reasons for a father to choose that unpaid job.

For example:

1) A father may have a better temperament

2) A mother may earn more, so it's economically wiser for her to go back to work

If you're a frustrated stay-at-home-father, then check out the National At-Home Dad Network.


Weekend/holiday dad

The children do not live with their dad. They only see him during specific times that include weekends or holidays.

Four father types

Importance Of Dad: The impact that a good father has on his child

It takes more than conceiving a child and becoming obligated to care for him to be a good father.

Small children need parents who are there for them because early years have a significant impact on the child’s future.

It’s important for every daughter and son to have a father. Click to read why every baby needs a dad (you can also learn about father’s day, father types and much more).

They lay the foundation for achieving higher education levels and economic status.

Having a caring dad figure is essential for a child’s well-being and success in life. 

A dad’s love can be crucial in early childhood psychological development. 

Positive Stimulating Home Environment

When a dad, makes his children his priority he can see the difference. Children with attentive dads typically do better in school and are more emotionally stable.

Fathers help tp create positive environment

Plentiful mental stimulation in the early years helps the brain to develop better  (source).

If you're a new dad, then you may want to read an article about stuff you'll need.

Safe home environment

Developing brain needs the safety. A good dad is responsible for protecting his children from harm and nurturing them.  When the child is in chaotic and threatening situations, his brain is in stress mode. In other words, the brain has different priorities than developing cognitive and emotional skills (source).

There is also masculine baby caring products out there. If you wish to learn more, click to read about tactical baby gear.

Dads also need to protect their children from physical harm. You may not be as skilled as John Matrix when it comes to fending off bad guys, but their things you can do.

Role Model

Children may not listen to us, but they will always imitate us. The lessons children learn in their childhood are carried with them throughout adulthood.  Thus, it is essential for a dad to be a positive role model in their lives.

Father as a role model

Dad’s helps us create relationships with ourselves and others.

A stable male figure provides children with a different outlook than their mother. Dad’s show children how to take risks and handle social experiences. They teach children the difference between right and wrong.  Children get another perspective on dealing with life's challenges.

No Healthy Relationship With A Father?

An interesting study by Bruce J. Ellis et al. was published in 2003 (source). They found that for daughters the absence of fathers is in itself a risk factor for sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy. 

Without the male presence in the home, children can have difficulty forming healthy relationships. As the social-emotional development is altered, the absence of fathers probably affects the partnerships children build in adulthood.  

That said, there's no conclusive evidence that father's absence affects marriage rates (source).

I asked a friend how she thinks the absence of fathers affects children.

It's an assumption, of course. But scientific papers have shown that the absence of fathers affects mental health. So there may be something there:)

"Men who do not receive fatherly love as children tend to be insecure. They are easily influenced by men outside of the home and not know what their role is in a relationship. When a child grows up with a good dad figure, he learns confidence and knows how to express his feelings"


Paternal rights

This is not a legal text and is meant for a general reader. If you need legal advice, it's best to consult your attorney.

Paternity leave

When a dad has a new baby or adopted a child, he is usually given paternity leave by his place of employment. This is the amount of time that he is granted to stop working and take leave from his job.

How much leave is guaranteed depends very much on the country you live in. If you happen to live in  Papua New Guinea, then accept my condolences. It's the only country (as of 2014) that doesn't have any form on parental leave.

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act protects American workers and guarantees 12 weeks of unpaid paternity leave. 

Unfortunately, in the United States, new dads do not get paid when they take paternity leave.

The FMLA law does allow dads to take time off to care for their families. However, dads are disenchanted when it comes to taking the leave. 

Dads are not encouraged to take time off for the birth of a new child and are fearful that it can affect their careers.  Not all companies even offer paternity leave.

Paternity Fraud

This happens when the mother of the child makes the man think he is the real dad.  A man is not the biological dad of a child but believes he is.

Unfortunately, the court will usually take the mother’s word alone when determining the dad of a child. The only way to find out who is the biological father is with a DNA test.

Paternity Fraud For Money

Paternity fraud permits women to collect child support and allows the court to garnish the wages of unsuspecting men. There usually aren't any laws that protect men from paternity fraud. There also aren't any consequences for mothers who wrongly accuse men.

As I've explained before,  cuckolded fathers are probably quite rare though. 

Child custody: What Does Is Mean?

Child custody pertains the parent or legal guardian of a minor and defines their relationship. The parent or guardian has legal rights to the child that include making decisions in their interest. They are also responsible for supporting the minor and taking care of them. When a dad has custody, he must make choices about the overall well-being.

Different countries have different laws and approaches to custody vary wildly from place to place (source).

Types of custody

There are several types of child custody that a dad can have. 

In the U.S examples include legal, physical, sole and joint custody (source).

Legal Custody For A Father

A parent or guardian with legal custody of a child determines their upbringing. They also manage their healthcare, religious affiliation and education. It can be a joint or sole custody.

Physical Custody For A Father

A dad with physical custody must provide his child with a permanent home, food, and clothing. There are many different forms out there.

Sole Or Full Custody For A Father

Sole custody grants one parent custody of the child and can be the result of a legal decision by the court system. When the dad has sole custody, he is the sole caretaker for the child. That said, sole custody is rarely given. A dad can have it when the mother of a child is unfit or incapable to take care of the child.

Joint Custody For A Father

Joint custody allows the mother and dad to share custody of their children. It permits both parents to be a part of the decisions in the lives of the children and spend time with them.

When child custody is necessary?

When parents are going through a divorce, the courts become involved in determining who will take care of the child. The judge chooses where the child lives and make this decision based on the best interests of the child. The court can decide to create a co-parenting relationship. It can also give one parent sole custody of the children.

Dads are generally treated unequally when it comes to child custody time. For example, Custody X Change conducted a study (source) where they found out that states grant fathers 21,8-50% of parenting time.

Child Support

Child support payments are court ordered to provide financial help to children. The fees can come from the mom or dad depending on the court’s decisions. In many situations, dads end up paying child support because they do not have primary physical custody.

During the legal process, the judge evaluates the needs of the child such as health insurance, education, daycare or special needs. If the custodial parent has income, it is taken into consideration as well as the child’s standard of living. The ability of the paying parent to pay is another factor in the determination.

What child support payments cover?

Child support payments should cover the costs of the essential needs of the children. For example, to pay for the child’s medical expenses, educational costs and extracurricular activities. They also cover the cost of housing, clothing, and food.

As with child custody, approaches to child support vary wildly from place to place.

For example, in Estonia, child support can't be less than half of the minimum wage. It doesn't matter if the other part earns four times more. If a father is making minimum wage (as of 2018 it's 500 EUR per month), he must pay 250 EUR to the mother. How he lives with 250 EUR per month in a country where prices are near as high as in Finland (one of the wealthiest countries in the world) in generally nobody's business.

Father’s Day History

Celebration of fatherhood In The Middle Ages

In the Middle Ages, fatherhood was celebrated on March 19th. This day is known as the feast day of Saint Joseph in Christian Europe. 

Father & Fatherhood Has Long Been Celebrated In Christianity

During colonialism, the Spanish and Portuguese transferred the tradition to the Americas where it didn't really catch on.

Mother's Day Came First

Although motherhood has been celebrated for thousands of years by different cultures, the modern version began in 1910 in the U.S

Ann Jarvis tried to establish Mother's Day during the Civil War, but it didn't catch on, and she died in 1905. So her daughter, Anna Marie Jarvis started to promote the day by first holding two sermons in 1907 and 1908 to honor her mother and the holiday became quickly popular. 

Roses

One of the reasons is probably that the association of retailers saw great commercial potential in this holiday. They weren't wrong...Americans spend every year over 20bn on Mother's Day presents.

In 1910 West Virginia became the first state to adopt the holiday. In 1914 president Woodrow Wilson approved a resolution that made the second Sunday of May a holiday in honor of mothers.

It's worth noting that Anna Marie Jarvis spend the rest of her life trying to fight against the commercialization of the Mother's Day.


How Father's Day Started? 

In the U.S, the Father's Day began earnestly in Washington state on June 19, 1910.

Sonora Smart Dodd thought of the idea in 1909 after hearing a sermon about Mother's Day

Dodd’s dad was a widower and raised six children on his own on a small farm. So, she wanted to honor him by dedicating a day to him for all his efforts. 

We can say that we have Father's Day thanks to Dodd and retailers:

  • The holiday faded almost into obscurity when Dodd started to learn in Chicago and had less time. It only started to gain momentum again when she moved back to hometown in the 1930s
  • Everybody feared that the holiday is a cynical attempt to replicate the success of Mother's Day. As a result the Congress resisted the holiday and newspapers ridiculed it. As there was an undeniable financial allure to it though, retailers had a strong incentive to keep promoting the holiday

In 1966 president Lyndon B. Johnson designated the third Sunday of June as Father's Day in the U.S. In 1972 Richard Nixon made it a permanent national holiday.

How Father's Day Is Celebrated?

Celebrating Dads In The United States

The holiday is celebrated on the third Sunday of every June in the United States. It is the one day of the year that dads are given special attention and honored for their contribution to their family. 

Father's Day Celebration

People send cards and gifts to their dads.

Some arrange huge gatherings to celebrate.

Children show appreciation to dads by making them handmade cards.

Fathers may receive chocolates and flowers from mom

The day is not considered a federal holiday though.  It means that businesses, organizations, and stores are open.

Even though dads may not get the day off from work, they will most likely receive attention from friends or family at some point during the day.

Father's Day In Other Places

Besides the United States, dads are celebrated across the globe. Over 70 countries continue the tradition of honoring their dads on the third Sunday of June.

Each country has their practices, customs and celebrates the special day in their own way.

In many countries, parties are organized by family and friends to express gratitude for the dad’s role in the community.

Here are some examples:

  • In Australia, there is often a breakfast meeting held for the dad
  • The day is celebrated in India with a festival in efforts to show respect to the elders and males in the family
  • The churches in Brazil honor dads with exceptional service and feast
  • In Thailand, people give dads a masculine flower called the Canna. They also wear yellow to show respect for the king

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