Date of Award

Spring 5-5-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)

First Advisor

Nancy Nager


The contribution of the father to the young child’s life and development has been looked at far less than that of the mother. This paper analyzes how fathers impact the development of growing children and why this issue matters to early childhood educators. By extension, it analyzes the impact of a father’s absence. In today’s society of increasingly diverse parenting structures, many children are growing up in fatherless households. For such children, teachers may prove to be significant figures in the hierarchy of attachment. This paper begins with a brief history of attachment theory. It then provides an overview of family, teacher, child interaction within such a society and describes how the early childhood curriculum draws from the topic of the family. Next, it focuses on the nature of fatherhood by placing it in a cross-disciplinary context, with many experts attributing some of the ambiguity regarding the purpose of fatherhood to the tension between biology and culture. It also investigates the father’s contributions to nurturing, discipline, and play. The paper concludes with considering different reasons for father absence, bearing in mind that not all of these configurations carry potential trauma for children. Ultimately, the paper proposes that today, while the importance of father involvement may be increasing in some ways, it may be diminishing in others, especially when medical advancements allow women to control their biological destiny now more than ever. Throughout, the paper argues that educators should deepen their knowledge of alternative family structures and promote family-school partnerships, while recognizing their significance in the hierarchy of attachments for young children. A handbook for teachers with working models and suggestions for practice appears at the end of the paper.


Early Childhood and Childhood General Education