And in some cases, it is even MORE important.
That's the conclusion of a wide-ranging study that found a father's input is crucial for their chldren's behaviour and very influential if a child later drinks to excess, takes drugs or suffers mental health problems.
Researchers examined the cases of more than 10,000 sons and daughters revealed how a cold or distant father can damage a child's life, sometimes for decades to come.
The review of 36 studies from around the world, published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Review, concluded that a father's love is at least as important to youngsters as that of their mothers.
Researcher Professor Ronald Rohner said: "In the US, Great Britain and Europe, we have assumed for the past 300 years that all children need for normal healthy development is a loving relationship with their mother.
"And that dads are there as support for the mother and to support the family financially but are not required for the healthy development of the children.
"But that belief is fundamentally wrong. We have to start getting away from that idea and realise the dad's influence is as great, and sometimes greater, than the mother's."
His conclusions came after he examined data from studies in which children and adults were asked how loving their parents were.
Questions included if they were made to feel wanted or needed, if their parents went out of their way to hurt their feelings and if they felt loved.
The results showed that those rejected in childhood felt more anxious and insecure as well as hostile and aggressive.
Many of the problems carried over into adulthood, reported the study.
Crucially, a father's love was often just as important as a mother's. In some cases, it was even more so.
One reason for this may be that rejection is more painful when it comes from the parent the child regards as more powerful or respected.
Professor Rohner said rejection in childhood has the most "strong and consistent effect on personality and development".