Key difference: A father is the male parent of the child; its progenitor. They share DNA with the child, but he may or may not share responsibility in the child’s growth and development. Dad is a term of affection and familiarity. Dad is someone who actively participates in the child’s growth and development.
There is a saying: "Any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a Daddy".
While in definition, both terms mean the same, their implications have changed over the years. A father is the male parent of the child; its progenitor. Traditional roles of a father dictate that fathers act in a protective, supportive and responsible way towards their children. Fathers who are active in the children’s lives play a role in how the children grow up. They have an impact on the child’s behavior, psychology and their development.
However, not all fathers are active in the children’s lives. There are many fathers who believe that once the child is born, their role is over. Of course, they are still the child’s father, as they do share DNA with the child, but they do not share responsibility in the child’s growth and development. He might pay the bills on time, he might supply the food and money, and he might provide for the family. However, if he does not even know his children, know their likes and dislikes, or what is going on with them, at school or personally, chances are the children will not consider him to be their dad.
Dad is a term of affection and familiarity. Dad is someone who actively participates in the child’s growth and development. A dad fulfills all the responsibilities associated with the role, personal as well as societal and cultural. The dad may or may not be the biological father. He may be the adoptive father, the step-father, or just a nurturing male figure in the child’s life, such as grandfathers and uncles, cousins and big brothers, family friends, who fulfill some of the father’s responsibilities.
Research shows that an increased amount of father–child involvement may help increase a child's social stability, educational achievement, and their potential to have a solid marriage as an adult. The children may also be more curious about the world around them and develop greater problem solving skills. So, even if fathers fulfill monetary responsibilities, they do not give the child these abilities. They do not fulfill their responsibilities to the child.
Dads are the one who are there for the child, when they need them, in good times and bad. They are the ones who will stay up with the child, the one who will attend the child’s games and team practices. They are the ones who will take the children out for a holiday, teach them to ride a bike, drive a car and give them away at their marriage. They provide guidance, an open ear and a caring heart.
The main difference between a father and a dad is that father is biological; however a dad’s relationship is emotional. Fathering is an act of nature, while, being a dad is all about nurture. It is much easier to become a father, many even do it unintentionally; however, it is much harder to commit to becoming a dad.
Still, these terms are subjective, depending on the usage in the family. A child may call the father a dad, despite not having a caring or nurturing relationship. Likewise, a child may call her father, ‘father’ at least in front of friends and family, despite him being the best father. Personal experience with these terms may vary. Some may not even call their father, father or dad. They may have some other name or nickname, such as Da, Pa, Papa, Dada, etc. Some may even call their stepfathers by name, even though they may have a dad-child relationship.