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According to anthropologist Maurice Godelier, the parental role assumed by human males is a critical difference between human society and that of humans' closest biological relatives - chimpanzees and bonobos - who appear to be unaware of their "father" connection.
The father-child relationship is the defining factor of the fatherhood role. "Fathers who are able to develop into responsible parents are able to engender a number of significant benefits for themselves, their communities, and most importantly, their children." For example, children who experience significant father involvement tend to exhibit higher scores on assessments of cognitive development, enhanced social skills and fewer behavior problems.
The father is often seen as an authority figure. According to Deleuze, the father authority exercises repression over sexual desire. Like mothers, human fathers may be categorised according to their biological, social or legal relationship with the child. Historically, the biological relationship paternity has been determinative of fatherhood. However, proof of paternity has been intrinsically problematic and so social rules often determined who would be regarded as a father, e.g. the husband of the mother.
This method of the determination of fatherhood has persisted since Roman times in the famous sentence: Mater semper certa; pater est quem nuptiae demonstrant (Mother is always certain; the father is whom the marriage shows). The historical approach has been destabilised with the recent emergence of accurate scientific testing, particularly DNA testing. As a result, the law on fatherhood is undergoing rapid changes. In the United States, the Uniform Parentage Act essentially defines a father as a man who conceives a child through sexual intercourse.[How to reference and link to summary or text]
The most familiar English terms for father include dad, daddy, papa, pop and pa. Other colloquial expressions include my old man.
- Natural/Biological father - the most common category: child product of man and woman
- Birth father - the biological father of a child who, due to adoption or parental separation, does not raise the child
- Surprise father - where the men did not know that there was a child until possibly years afterwards
- Posthumous father - father died before children were born (or even conceived in the case of artificial insemination)
- Teenage father/youthful father - may be associated with premarital sexual intercourse
- Non-parental father - unmarried father whose name does not appear on child's birth certificate: does not have legal responsibility but continues to have financial responsibility (UK)
- Sperm donor father - a genetic connection but man does not have legal or financial responsibility if conducted through licensed clinics
- Step-father - wife/partner has child from previous relationship
- Father-in-law - the father of one's spouse
- Adoptive father - child is adopted(not of their blood)
- Foster father - child is raised by a man who is not the biological or adoptive father usually as part of a couple.
- Cuckolded father - where child is the product of the mother's adulterous relationship
- Social father - where man takes de facto responsibility for a child (in such a situation the child is known as a "child of the family" in English law)
- Mothers's partner - assumption that current partner fills father role
- Mothers's husband - under some jurisdictions (e.g. in Quebec civil law), if the mother is married to another man, the latter will be defined as the father
- DI Dad - social / legal father of children produced via Donor Insemination where a donor's sperm were used to impregnate the DI Dad's spouse.
Fatherhood defined by contact level with child
- Weekend/holiday father - where child(ren) only stay(s) with father at weekends, holidays, etc.
- Absent father - father who cannot or will not spend time with his child(ren)
- Second father - a non-parent whose contact and support is robust enough that near parental bond occurs (often used for older male siblings who significantly aid in raising a child).
- Stay at home dad - the male equivalent of a housewife with child
- Where man in couple originally seeking IVF treatment withdraws consent before fertilisation (UK)
- Where the apparently male partner in an IVF arrangement turns out to be legally a female (evidenced by birth certificate) at the time of the treatment (UK) (TLR 1st June 2006)
- A biological child of a man who, for the special reason above, is not their legal father, has no automatic right to financial support or inheritance. Legal fatherlessness refers to a legal status and not to the issue of whether the father is now dead or alive.
- Adolescent fathers
- Animal parental behavior
- Expectant fathers
- Father absence
- Father child communication
- Father child relations
- Fathers' rights
- Human male
- Marriage strike
- Masculine psychology
- Non-human fatherhood
- Paternal bond
- Responsible Fatherhood
- Single fathers
- Sociology of fatherhood
- WordNet. URL accessed on 2007-12-14.
- Maurice Godelier, Métamorphoses de la parenté, 2004
- New Left Review - Jack Goody: The Labyrinth of Kinship. URL accessed on 2007-07-24.
- Early Childhood Longitudinal Study 2006. "Measuring Father Involvement in Young Children's Lives." National Center for Education Statistics. Fathers of U.S. children born in 2001.
- Minnesota Fathers & Families Network. "Do We Count Fathers in Minnesota?" (Saint Paul, MN: Author, 2007). 51.
- Minnesota Fathers & Families Network. "Fathers to the Forefront: A five-year plan to strengthen Minnesota families." (Saint Paul, MN: Author. 2007).
- Pruett, K. "Fatherneed: Why father care is as essential as mother care for your child," New York: Free Press, 2000.
- "The Effects of Father Involvement: A Summary of the Research Evidence," Father Involvement Initiative Ontario Network, Fall 2002 newsletter.
- Anderson Moore, K. "Family Structure and Child Well-being" Washington, DC: Child Trends, 2003.
- Osaki, Harumi Killing Oneself, Killing the Father: On Deleuze's Suicide in Comparison with Blanchot's Notion of Death Literature and Theology, doi:10.1093/litthe/frm019
- [Foucault's response to Freud: sado-masochism and the aestheticization of power http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2342/is_n3_v29/ai_18096757/pg_4]
- Eva L. Corredor (Dis)embodiments of the Father in Maghrebian Fiction. The French Review, Vol. 66, No. 2 (Dec., 1992), pp. 295-304
- Paul Rosefeldt; Peter Lang, 1996. The Absent Father in Modern Drama [CHAPTER 3 - QUESTIONING THE FATHER'S AUTHORITY http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=9916349]
- Deleuze, Gilles. Coldness and Cruelty. Masochism. Trans. Jean McNeil. New York: Zone, 1989. pp. 63-68. 
- Minnesota Fathers & Families Network. "Do We Count Fathers in Minnesota?" (Saint Paul, MN: Author, 2007). 14.
- S Kraemer (1991) The Origins of Fatherhood: An Ancient Family Process. Family Process 30 (4), 377–392. doi:10.1111/j.1545-5300.1991.00377.x
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