June 6, 2014

FATHERS MATTER: Relevant? Nurturing? Well, So’s Your Old Man.

Mr. Raeburn writes that “as recently as a generation ago, in the 1970s, most psychologists” believed that “with regard to infants, especially, fathers were thought to have little or no role to play.” When it came to toddlers and older children, too, the great parenting theories of the 20th century placed fathers in the background. Freud famously exalted, or damned, the mother for her influence. John Bowlby’s attachment theory, which he developed beginning in the 1940s, focused on the mother or “mother-figure.”

When the pioneering researcher Michael E. Lamb became interested in the role of fathers, in the mid-1970s, “there wasn’t much evidence for the irrelevancy of fathers” — it was just assumed, Mr. Raeburn writes.

There sure was a lot of crappy social science in the 1970s. The book, meanwhile, is Paul Raeburn’s Do Fathers Matter?