It appears that the Homer Simpson-style, out-to-lunch, clueless father figure is truly, and fortunately, a myth.

A new report released by the National Center for Health Statistics — part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — shows that more and more fathers are taking an increasingly active and dedicated role in the lives of their children. That means the stereotype of the father who leaves child-rearing and childcare activities to his wife is more and more a figment of the imagination.

What a wonderful thing!

There are myriad benefits for dads and children alike — a happier family unit, more fulfilling relationships, and a greater opportunity for children to feel safe and secure at home.

Plus, read this from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services about the effect of involved fathers on a child's performance in the classroom:

"Children with involved, caring fathers have better educational outcomes. A number of studies suggest that fathers who are involved, nurturing, and playful with their infants have children with higher IQs, as well as better linguistic and cognitive capacities."

The study done by the Office on Child Abuse and Neglect also shows that "toddlers with involved fathers go on to start school with higher levels of academic readiness. They are more patient and can handle the stresses and frustrations associated with schooling more readily than children with less involved fathers."

And it's not only schooling where children have an advantage when dad plays a central role. The HHS study suggests that children are simply more well adjusted when their father plays a prominent role in their lives.

The report says,

"Even from birth, children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident to explore their surroundings, and, as they grow older, have better social connections with peers. These children also are less likely to get in trouble at home, school, or in the neighborhood."

It also suggests that children with strong father foundations "were less likely to experience depression, to exhibit disruptive behavior, or to lie and were more likely to exhibit pro-social behavior."

As many of today's dads have come to realize, gender roles are disappearing and it's all hands on deck when it comes to all parts of parenting, from changing diapers to cooking and cleaning to providing for their families. A growing number of mothers work full-time to support their family while fathers assume the responsibility of being the stay-at-home parent. Groups of fathers are springing up on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites to gather, share parenting stories, and support one another in the growing involved dad movement.