Unmarried mothers automatically receive the rights and responsibilities of parenting their children, but unmarried fathers do not. In fact, if a man is not married to the mother at the time of the birth, the law does not recognize him as a father.
Some fathers may immediately think of paying child support for the next 18 years. However, financial support is only one reason that children need their biological fathers.
Children who know their biological parents receive a sense of identity from this knowledge. They understand where they came from—their roots, culture and ancestry—and they gain higher self-esteem as a result.
A child’s background involves more than lineage: It also provides a medical history. Does the father’s family have a history of heart disease or diabetes? Is the child a candidate for or carrier of a genetic condition? These factors may be critical in his or her survival someday.
Fathers who interact with their children in a nurturing way can actually make their children smarter. Studies show that a deep, loving bond between a father and child can improve the child’s cognitive abilities.
Any child who has strong bonds with two parents who model emotionally healthy behaviors will be better able to regulate his or her own emotions. This can result in better social skills, less aggression and lower risk of depression, both as a child and as an adult.
When a father establishes paternity, he automatically provides his child with the potential for benefits. For example, the child becomes eligible for health care insurance through the father’s policy. If the father becomes disabled or dies due to another’s negligence, the child may be eligible for Social Security benefits and/or wrongful death benefits. The child becomes the legal heir, as well.