Okay, dads, listen up! Researchers are finally starting to get a clear picture of how important fathers are to their young children. It’s taken awhile because, in the past, most dads were at work. That means, when researchers did child development studies in the home, they usually only documented what went on between moms and kids. 

Gina Cook is a professor of family, consumer, and human development at Utah State University. And she says that, over the last decade, she’s been able to find and study some stay-at-home dads. Cook began her research by videotaping fathers interacting with their 2-year-olds. Then she checked how the kids were doing in 5th grade. The result: The kids whose dads spent the most time participating in pretend games like, “playing school” or “let’s have a tea party” had the best grades. 

But guys, you have to be consistent. The men in the study who didn’t have the opportunity to play with their kids on a regular basis didn’t have the same impact. Luckily for kids, it’s the amount of pretend play - not which parent that participates - that’s important. So, Mom can pick up the slack if Dad’s not around. But, it’s always better for kids when both parents join in the fun.