Most men can father a child, but it requires a lifetime of effort to be a parent. That effort is not the only aspect of parenthood; in California, an unmarried man is not legally a parent until he establishes parentage.
According to an article published in the National Institutes of Health, the benefits of establishing parentage change a child’s life, but both parents also enjoy advantages to the father’s acknowledgment of paternity.
Benefits for the child
Statistics indicate that having an involved father before birth correlates with lower rates of infant mortality, low birthrate and premature birth. This may be in part because the father is cohabiting or in a relationship with the mother and helps financially and in other ways during the pregnancy. Most unmarried men establish paternity at the hospital.
Children also benefit financially in many ways:
- The financial support of two parents
- More access to health insurance benefits
- The right to inheritance
- Eligibility for other benefits, such as veterans or Social Security benefits
When fathers are active in their children’s lives, the children are more likely to have healthy relationships as adults. They also typically do better at school and are less likely to suffer mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.
Benefits for the parents
Research shows that mothers benefit financially, emotionally and physically from having a partner to help raise their children. This does not necessarily refer to having a relationship with that partner.
Fathers gain the right to have a legal relationship with their children, including spending time together and making important life decisions. Custody schedules and visitation rights vary depending on circumstances, but a mother cannot move away with the child or put the child up for adoption without first obtaining the father’s consent.
Above all, developing a healthy parent-child bond may be one of the most emotionally and psychologically satisfying things a father can do.