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Because this past weekend was Father’s Day as well as the anniversary of Joe’s passing, we wanted to take a minute to tell all the dads out there how much we appreciate them. Dads are incredible masters of building forts and sandcastles, slaying dragons, storytelling, playing catch, kissing boo-boos, braiding hair, and baking cupcakes.

Dads make the world a much better, stable, safer place.

And science backs it up.

Up until the 1970s, the role of fathers wasn’t studied much as it pertained to their children’s development. The only thing fathers were expected to do was to provide economic stability for their family, leaving the mother to be the primary caregiver and emotional support for the child. Marian Bakermans-Kranenburg of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, an expert in the field who is doing a series of studies on new fathers and family relations, said it best: “Half of parents are fathers, yet 99% of the research on parenting focuses on mothers.”

Michael Lamb, a psychologist at the University of Cambridge who has been studying fathers since the 70s says, “The factors that lead to the formation of relationships are exactly the same for mother and father…It really comes down to the emotional availability, recognizing the child’s needs, responding to those, providing the comfort and support that the child needs.” Basically, past research found that mothers and fathers do, in fact, tend to interact differently with small children with mothers bonding more through care-taking, and fathers, more through play. But Lamb says that doesn’t really have as much to do with gender as it does with the division of childcare.

Things have changed since the 70s.

Interestingly, Psychologist Ruth Feldman of Israel’s Bar-Ilan University has proven just how adaptable parenting roles can be. She found that fathers, just like mothers, experience a hormone boost when they care for their babies. That hormone boost aids in the bonding process. And when dads are the primary caregivers, their brains adapt accordingly.

We would, however, be remiss if we didn’t give praise where praise is due. Moms have always and will always be the first to bond and care for their babies. They nurtured and cared for their little ones long before they made their entrance into the outside world.

But now, dads are being celebrated for being present, sensitive, and hands-on. Study after study shows how dads are key players in their children’s, emotional, cognitive, social, and behavioral development finding that babies with emotionally engaged fathers show better mental development as toddlers. Older kids are better off too. Studies have shown that older children who have fathers, or father figures, that are fully engaged tend to be more satisfied with life and have better relationships with their teachers and peers.

There are tons of studies that support the fact that dads play a huge part in their children’s overall well-being from the start. And many more that have proven over and over again just how significant step-dads, granddads, uncles, and other important father figures are in a child’s life.

Dads…Stepdads…Uncles…Grandaddies…Men who are stepping up and stepping in–

You are needed.

You are seen.

You are appreciated.

Your words are heard.

Your strength is empowering.

Your character is absorbed.

Your acceptance is comforting.

And your presence, all-encompassing.

You make the world better, more stable, and safer.

Not just for this generation, but the generations that will come out of this one whom you so sacrificially have chosen to raise up and father.