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Fathers are known to tease and play in ways that are exciting and unpredictable — a biological characteristic. “Male monkeys show the same rough-and-tumble, physical style of play as American human fathers,” the study said.

This kind of play helps children understand that the world is surprising, is competitive, has risks and can be destabilizing, and that children have to learn to stand up for themselves. There is even evidence that children who play with their fathers a lot are likely to be popular with their peers.

Fathers are also likely to help establish a climate of order and self-control in families. They are more likely to act unilaterally, directing their children to do things without inquiring about what they want. They also can be firmer disciplinarians, spending less time reasoning or explaining their decisions to the miscreants, and children are more likely to comply with paternal demands than maternal demands.

As a result, boys who are close to their fathers are less likely to become delinquent; girls with fathers at home are less likely to become pregnant as teens.

Stable mothers

If the father’s style is geared to “push children out of the nest,” mothers tend to be the “more verbal, affectionate, predictable, comforting and affectionate parent … geared to make children feel at home in the nest.”

Taken together, “these two diverse parenting styles supply children with a varied parenting diet,” the report said.

Mothers are viewed as having a superior ability to regulate emotion, allowing them to establish strong attachments with their children. This in turn gives children a “secure emotional base” from which to navigate the emotional and social challenges of life, the paper said.

This persists in adolescence, when mothers, more than fathers, are more likely to try to “take their teenagers’ emotional temperature” and provide support and problem-solving tips for the ups and downs of life.

In general, and despite workplace and cultural changes, fathers tend to earn more money and mothers still tend to invest more time in parenting, especially when children are very young.

This means mothers typically take the lead on parental duties such as monitoring the children’s health, child care and shopping for clothing.

Mothers are also more likely to take steps to ensure their children have positive play experiences and introduce toys and games that have a predictable nature and are played by the rules.

In this sense, mothers are often seen as the responsible parent, setting limits and imposing penalties, even though the ultimate authority is the father, the report said.

A caveat is that such benefits are most robust when fathers live with the mothers of their children, which is why strengthening marriage is wise, Mr. Wilcox said.

Both children and men benefit when fathers are engaged with their families, day in and day out, “and marriage is an institution that more than any other” connects men to that, he said.

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