Research at the University of Illinois' Child Development Laboratory (USA) has found that a mother's involvement has a positive impact on a child's later academic success while a father's involvement was positive only if he was involved from the beginning. The study described that often mothers are constantly involved in a child's education and school life and thus their impact is generally positive. But a father is often not involved in the child's education unless there is a problem.
So when their study measured the impact of a father's involvement, it was found that the children had lesser academic success. This was not because the father was a bad influence, but because of the late involvement of the father in the child's education. By the time the father got involved, the situation was bad and the child was on the verge of failing academically.
When a father gets involved early in the child's education, Dr. McBride the lead researcher says "when the child sees that, they grow to expect it. They know that Daddy wants to be involved, and respond to it.".
It is possible that because of the way society has evolved, fathers may find it a little awkward to get involved in parenting, because they may not be used to being around younger children. While mothers may have been involved from a young age in taking care of other children and in parenting activities. Dr. McBride says that men may need help to overcome this awkwardness.
The study appears in the in the May 2009 issue of the Journal of Educational Psychology.