Parents who separate or file for divorce in California face the difficult task of determining custody of the children. While some parents are able to work out an agreement between the themselves, others require the involvement of a court-appointed judge to determine custody in the best interest of the child. Traditionally, sole-custody is given to one parent, usually the mother, to enforce stability in a child’s life. However, studies show that joint-custody situations may be more beneficial to children.
Children who spend a significant amount of time with both their mother and father tend to do better socially, developmentally, emotionally and intellectually, according to a meta-analysis published in the Journal of Family Psychology. During the study, kids in joint-households displayed a higher self-esteem, and received higher grades in school. Sole-custody tends to be given to the mother in many situations. However, evidence shows the importance of fathers in children’s’ lives. Not only do children with highly involved fathers do better academically, but they show less aggression, more self-direction, develop stronger relationships and have more successful careers.
In most cases, it is critical that children spend time with both their father and mother while growing up. Fathers encourage risk-taking, competition and independence but offer protection and discipline. Mothers, on the other hand, are more nurturing, reasoning and offer security and caring. Both complementary roles are essential to a developing child. When children do not have exposure to both, it may result in behavior problems now, as well as later down the road.