DO DADS MATTER? A breezy article in The New York Times Magazine notes the trend toward intentional single motherhood among college-educated women: They’re raising their kids on their own, sans husband. In fact, “instead of giving their children a father,” Emily Bazelon writes in “2 kids + 0 Husbands = Family,” “they give them a sibling.” After all, who needs a man?

Reality check: While there are single mothers out there doing a heroic job of raising responsible, well-adjusted, and even high-achieving kids, the vast majority of children do better when both Mom and Dad are in the home. So says study after study.

One of the most recent is last April’s report from a team led by Benjamin Scafidi, an economist at Georgia College & State University. That study found that, at a minimum, family fragmentation costs the American taxpayer $112 billion per year.

Granted, much of the Scafidi study focuses on the fact that single mothers tend to be (or become) poverty stricken. But what about the kids being raised by Ms. Bazelon’s professional women? Do these kids need a dad?

Dr. Kyle Pruett of Yale Medical School, in his book “Father need: Why Father Care is as Essential as Mother Care for Your Child,” points out that fathers have a different way of interacting with children. By the age of 8 weeks, infants can differentiate between the two sexes.

Fathers roughhouse with children. One study found over 70 percent offather-infant games were more physical and action-oriented than the games mothers played. As they get older, fathers encourage children to take risks, while mothers encourage safety.

Linguistically, too, fathers communicate differently. Men are more direct in their speech and tend to use more facial expressions and body language. Some psychologists feel that children raised in homes without dads may be handicapped in their communication skills as adults.

Fathers tend to prepare their children for what they’ll face in life, while mothers tend to want to protect them. Fathers are also often the link to the adult work world, providing guidance and encouragement as teens approach adulthood.

Dr. David Popenoe warns, “The two sexes are different to the core,and each is necessary–culturally and biologically–for the optimal development of a human being.”

Nearly 40 percent of U.S. children today are born out of wedlock.Sure, some single moms are doing a fine job with their children. But is this a pattern to endorse? Only in the erudite world of The New York Times Magazine does that scenario play out well.

Source: The Free Lance-Star, VA –