The Importance of Dads

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In a recent New York Times letter to the editor, professor Sara McLanahan disputes how her research has recently been portrayed in the New York Times opinion pages.

Two recent opinion articles cite my research to support their claims that fathers aren't necessary for a thriving household ("In Defense of Single Motherhood," by Katie Roiphe, Aug. 12, and "Men, Who Needs Them?," by Greg Hampikian, Aug. 25). That does not fairly describe my work.

Income security is very important. But fathers in most cases are critical contributors to family income. And income security is only half the story.

Emotional security -- which children develop from living in stable families where they can form lasting relationships with adults who stick around for the long run -- is also important. Stable homes with one parent are rare. More often in single-mother households, children meet, attach and then say goodbye to men who are only temporarily connected to the family.

Two parents committed to each other and to raising a child together are more likely to provide the economic and emotional security children need. That large numbers of fathers cannot provide economic and emotional security constitutes a serious social problem.

SARA McLANAHAN
Princeton, N.J., Aug. 28, 2012

 

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