In honor of Father's Day weekend... sharing this great ariticle
By Amy Norton
MONDAY, June 13, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Fathers play a unique and important role in their children’s development, a new report shows.
Just in time for Father’s Day, the American Academy of Pediatrics report says U.S. dads are more involved in child care than ever before. At the same time, studies show that those involved fathers have important effects on kids’ health and well-being.
“From everyone’s standpoint, the more we can do to encourage fathers’ involvement, the better,” said Dr. Michael Yogman, a co-author of the report.
“It’s beneficial for kids. Fathers aren’t just ‘redundant,’ doing the same things as mothers do,” added Yogman, who chairs the academy’s committee on psychosocial aspects of child and family health.Studies have found that older kids with involved fathers tend to have fewer depression symptoms and behavioral problems, and lower rates of teen pregnancy.
When it comes to young children, fathers can have effects on language development and mental health, according to the academy. Research has shown that dads are more likely to use new words when they talk to their babies and preschoolers, for example.
And fathers’ typical ways of playing are different, too, Yogman said.
“It’s a stereotype, but it’s true that fathers do more of the rough-and-tumble style of play,” Yogman said. “They often encourage their children to explore and take risks, while mothers offer stability and safety. There’s room for both.”
Research suggests that preschoolers tend to have fewer mental health symptoms—like anxiety or aggression—when their fathers are regularly involved in playtime, the academy says.
None of that is to suggest that children of single moms do not fare well, Yogman stressed. And, he said, the new report defines “father” in a broad sense—not only the biological father who lives with a child.
It includes fathers who don’t live with their children, grandfathers and any male figure who’s invested in a child’s well-being.
The report was published online June 13 in the journal Pediatrics.
The fact that dads matter is not new, but the report pulls together the growing body of research on fathers’ impact, said Eric Lewandowski, a psychologist at NYU Langone’s Child Study Center in New York City.
The report also encourages fathers to be involved as primary caregivers, and not just as “auxiliary” support, Lewandowski said.
He also stressed that children without an involved father can and do “thrive.” What’s key, Lewandowski said, is that kids have their needs met, consistently and reliably.
There are signs that U.S. fathers are becoming more involved in child care, Yogman said. That’s, in part, because the ranks of stay-at-home and single dads have grown.
In 2012, there were nearly 2 million single fathers in the United States—up 60 percent from 10 years earlier, based on Census Bureau figures. The number of stay-at-home dads stood at 189,000 versus 98,000 a decade before.
Compared with decades ago, some social shifts have encouraged dads to be more involved, Yogman said. “It used to be, we didn’t even let fathers into the delivery room,” he noted.
But, he added, it’s still difficult for fathers to balance work and family time. For one, few employers offer paid family leave for new dads or moms, Yogman pointed out.
“I think it’s really sad that the U.S. is one of the few countries without paid family leave,” he said.
Getting fathers involved in child care right away is important, Yogman said. “That sends the message that they matter,” he said.
Even when fathers do not live with their children, Yogman said, they still have an important role to play beyond financial support.
“Have meals with your kids, take them to the park,” he said. “Read to them, talk to them, listen to them. You’ll find out your kids cherish that time.”
Some fathers need extra support, Yogman added. He pointed to a Boston program focused on fathers who’ve spent time in prison: Dads and their kids come to the Boston Children’s Museum to play in a “welcoming, child-centered learning environment.”
Lewandowski said he hopes the new report encourages more efforts to get dads involved, including wider support for family leave.
“This report helps demonstrate that for children of all ages, fathers also make unique contributions with their own involvement, according to their own instincts,” Lewandowski said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has more on good parenting.
SAHD stands for stay-at-home dad. While the 2010 US Census counted only the 154,000 fathers who cared for children while earning no income outside the home, a more realistic figure includes those dads who provide primary care for their children while their wives work, even if the dads work at other times. This number is closer to 1.5 million, and these dads care for a quarter of children younger than 5 years in the United States.
Finding Other SAHDsWhile child care duties, cooking, cleaning, paying bills, and fixing the toilets leave little time for eating bonbons and watching soap operas, the real challenge is the sense of social isolation. Moms who work in the home can tap into a wide network of playgroups, neighborhood friends, and organized activities. But show up as the only guy at your local library’s reading hour and you can actually see the moms scooting away from you in the imagination circle.
On the other hand, you can take pity on those men who don’t get to watch their children’s first steps or hear them learn their alphabets because they were working all day. What job really is more important than nurturing your child and creating a home? Here again, finding other men in your position will reinforce your sense that what you’re doing is possibly the manliest job of all. www. healthychildren.org Author
David L. Hill, MD, FAAP
Dad to Dad: Parenting Like a Pro (Copyright © American Academy of Pediatrics 2012)
Parenting is definitely not just a mom’s job. While it is a common notion that mothers seem to slide into the role of parenting more naturally than fathers, kids need both the caring, nurturing style that moms can give and the challenging and practical parenting technique that is inherent to most fathers.
Moms and dads definitely have different styles when it comes to parenting, but this doesn’t mean that the other party is doing something wrong. As moms, we tend to compare how our partners do things with how we handle our children’s needs. But rather than trying to “perfect” our partner’s parenting ways, we should rather encourage and support them into being the best father they can be. In fact, we moms could learn a thing or two from our partners:
1. Challenging kids to be problem solvers
When our little ones seem to be struggling to put something together or if our tiny toddler suddenly falls down, moms often come to the rescue. But dad’s style is all about challenging our kids to cope with the real world and allowing them to work through their problems. There’s nothing wrong with helping our kids, of course, but there are times when dad’s way provides better opportunities for kids to learn to be on their own. Once in a while, it’s also rewarding to watch our little ones discover how to assemble their toys by themselves or seeing them get up and go. This way, our kids will learn to value their sense of accomplishment and independence.
2. Being spontaneous and fun
With all the responsibilities and multitasking demands of motherhood, having a proper routine and schedule often works for us.
Dads, on the other hand, are more spontaneous and flexible when it comes to parenting. They are more willing to let kids be messy at times, transforming a normally boring chore into play, or perhaps even allowing kids to extend their playtime once in a while and coming up with a “spur of the moment” kind of activity.
While routines and planned schedules are highly important, unplanned games, activities or even occasional breaks from the usual chores can allow moms and kids some time for fun as well. Learning from dads, it’s okay to act like a child at times and simply enjoy the moment.
3. Telling it like it is
Dads tend to be more direct when they talk to their kids. Sometimes, this may seem like they are being too tough and uncaring, but that’s just how dads are – they tell it like it is. Dads are more straightforward in explaining possible consequences, which teaches us moms to be firm when the situation calls for it.
4. Letting kids take risks
Moms can be overprotective at times, especially when their kids are just starting to explore. On the other hand, dads are risk-takers, in the sense that they let their kids try out a new activity because they see it as an opportunity to learn and build up their confidence – like trying to ride a bike for the first time or even climbing the stairs. While it’s important to take all the necessary precautions, allowing our kids space to explore and learn will be beneficial to their growth as well. It’s all a matter of being discerning when it’s okay to let go and allow them be on their own.
5. Trusting your partner’s instincts
As a first time mom, I remember those times I would (obsessively) check all sorts of parenting resources just to make sure I’m doing things right for my baby. When things go wrong, I tend to be hard on myself.
My husband, on the other hand, seemed more relaxed and contented to trust his instincts. To him, even if things are not perfect or accomplished by the book, as long as our child’s needs are met, then that’s enough for him.
Moms tend to be emotional when it comes to parenting, while dads are more rational. No matter what, it is important to have an appreciation of our different parenting styles and trust that we both know what’s best for our kids regardless of how we do it.
A father’s role in the lives of our children is truly essential to their well-being. As their partners, we need to be appreciative of how they fulfill their roles despite our differences. There’s so much to learn from each other -- what is important is that we work together for the sake of our children.
Balancing the Parenting Styles of Mothers and Fathers by Wayne Parker, About.com, Fatherhood
So there I was, water dripping off my body as I was half in / half out of the shower clapping like a mad man. He did it. My boy took a pee.
It started with a high shrieking "YEAH!." Then clapping and chanting. "Sterling went pee, yeah, Sterling went pee (and then you'd throw an "in the toilet" out on the downbeat), Sterling went pee!" Mommy came in to join us and started chiming in. Sterling at this point has picked up the Spiderman toilet seat that rests on top of the real toilet seat and is banging it like a tambourine. High-fives going around and on his face a big smile. He did it. Sterling took a pee.
It wasn't the first time. We have just really gotten started on it in the past month and a half, but I've been agonizing over it internally for probably 8 months. I know there isn't a rush. But I have to admit, I'm always looking around at all of the other little kids in my circle – friends, etc. – and it seemed like everyone started early and almost after turning 2, they were potty trained. Now, really; I mean it. I knew we weren't like majorly late (Now, when your child is so big he has to wear Depends, that's probably a time to panic), but when you're working and running around all of the time, it's hard to imagine the patience and pause you need to really help your child get into this potty training thing.
Thank goodness we're blessed with an amazing Home Daycare Provider, Mrs. Shears. I don't know how it is that we got so lucky, but what an amazing ally for Sterling and for us. As we've gotten serious about the potty training thing, she has been our coach and motivator. She got us going, started working with Sterling at school, and has given us advice and ideas to bring home, not to mention lending an open ear to questions. And Sterling is only there 2 days a week. Yowza! Early Childhood Providers like her know what they are talking about!!
You know what else has made me feel good? It was talking with parents that I wasn't necessarily as close to. People I worked with or colleagues/acquaintences I'd run into from the family support or early childhood field (not that the field matters, but it happens to be the field I'm in...and incidentally, early childhood and family support people LOVE talking about babies.) They'd always break it down in a way that made it seem like it was alright. There was no rush. Sterling would get it. They'd share their own experiences and timelines. And all of a sudden, I'd feel calm.
"Sterling was okay. He'll get there. We'll get there. Everyone gets there."
It's almost as if there is a sense of competition sometimes when connecting with your closest friends or family members that have young children on the subject of developmental stuff. The comparisons start popping up. There shouldn't be and maybe it is not like that for everyone, but for me, even intellectually knowing that it shouldn't be doesn't prevent it.
Maybe it's because we don't want to make those closest to us, see us struggle. It feeds into that idea that asking for help or opening up about your challenges is a sign of weakness. I need to, we all need to, understand that asking for help isn't a sign of weakness; it's a sign of strength. A willingness to be vulnerable and open up to getting support makes things better...SO MUCH FASTER.... than wallowing and isolating. It's amazing how the smallest thing like getting some advice, asking for help, or just talking about an issue in an open and honest way can really lighten your burden. That's how we've been talking about in our work with parents and providers through Strengthening Families Illinois and Be Strong Families, whether through the café process or through trainings like Living the Protective Factors—and really all activities. And it all comes back to the Protective Factors (See my last entry - http://sifamilies.org/blogs/money-matters). If I can continue to understand what I need as a parent to keep my family strong, I'm more likely to be willing to search it out. And it selfishly benefits me...and my kid...my whole family.
So on this day, I'll honor my son's accomplishment and keep myself tuned in for the next milestone. Each one is equally important and each one equally important that I do my best to be a part of.
So enjoy this tune that fits the moment for me – One Shot at Glory by Judas Priest. - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fpscxE9WDk
And while we're on the subject - do you have any peeing stories, advice or experiences to share? I could still use some help here! Let me know email@example.com . And if you'd like to connect with our organization on Twitter or Facebook it's @BStrongFamilies and facebook.com/bestrongfamilies
I love being a Dad. Don't you?
See you next time.
Through my work with Strengthening Families Illinois and Be Strong Families I've had the opportunity to spend some time with some really exceptional parents and professionals who have taught me a lot. Specifically, since becoming a Dad, I've beenable to bring my experience as a parent to the table and really think about Living the Protective Factors and what it means to keep myself and my family
strong. Through those experiences, I've been able to do some interesting things to help make the protective factors accessible to fathers like me...like...how would a Dad think about Parental
We've (SFI / BSF) been able to provide resources at father involvement
conferences and expos and have even held some events just for Dads like Confabs
and Dads only Cafes. Let me tell you...I've been to a lot of Parent Cafes over the years and they are mostly filled with women, with a spattering of men here and there. And that's okay. I've almost always had a positive experience and something to take away from every one, but I have to
admit that some of the most meaningful cafes for me as a participant and
facilitator / host have been the ones with just Dads in the room. It's hard to explain to you ladies out there (sad face), but you guys might understand (wink, wink). The way that men tend to communicate when there are just other men in the room is a unique phenomenon, worth exploring
later, but back to the point here.
Working on Dads Cafes and Confabs was how I got connected to a Dad named Khalid Scott. He's a Clinical Supervisor for the organization TASC, Inc. (Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities) and the father of a young woman, who I believe is in early adolescence. As is the experience with most people one might meet at a Parent Café, you're not going to (nor do you have to) agree
with everything that person says, but the environment creates an atmosphere of comfort
and respect that really allows one to be real and speak their own truth.
So guess what? Khalid and I are friends on Facebook and often I see his positive message floating across my feed. More often than not, I take a moment to check in to see what he's thinking.
(Hey—I'm the Dad of a little guy! I need all of the help I can get!) That's where I read this story, which I asked permission to share on this blog. For me it rang true because I'm someone who can get caught up in how the biscuit comes out. So check it out and see what you think. Take what you want and leave the rest. Comments are welcome and thank you Khalid for allowing me to share.
"When I was a kid, my Mom liked to make breakfast food for dinner every now and then.
And I remember one night in particular when she had made breakfast after a
long, hard day at work. On that evening so long ago, my Mom placed a plate of eggs, sausage and extremely "burned biscuits" in front of my dad. I remember waiting to see if anyone noticed!Yet all my dad did was reach for his biscuit, smile at my Mom and ask me how my day was at school. I don't remember what I told him that night, but I do remember watching him smear butter and jelly on that ugly burned biscuit. He ate every bite of that thing... never made a face nor uttered
a word about it!
When I got up from the table that evening, I remember hearing my Mom apologize to my dad for burning the biscuits. And I'll never forget what he said: "Honey, I love burned biscuits every now and
then." Later that night, I went to kiss Daddy good night and I asked him if he really liked his biscuits burned. He wrapped me in his arms and said, "Your Momma put in a hard day at work today and she's
real tired. And besides - a little burned biscuit never hurt anyone!"
As I've grown older, I've thought about that many times. Life is full of imperfect things and imperfect people. I'm not the best at hardly anything, and I forget birthdays and anniversaries just like everyone
else. But what I've learned over the years is that learning to accept each other's faults—and choosing to celebrate each other's differences—is one of the most important keys to creating a healthy, growing, and lasting relationship. And that's my prayer for you today... that you will learn to take the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of your life and lay them at the feet of God. Because in the end, He's the only One who will be able to give you a relationship where a burnt biscuit isn't a deal-breaker!
We could extend this to any relationship. In fact, understanding is the base of any relationship, be it a husband-wife or parent-child or friendship!
"Don't put the key to your happiness in someone else's pocket - keep it in your own."
So, please pass me a biscuit, and yes, the burned
one will do just fine."
- Khalid Scott
How does losing a job or housing affect parenting and what would you do to keep it together?”
This was the question that came up in a Parent Café I was in this past winter. We were talking about the Protective Factor, Concrete Support in Times of Need.
It came at the right time because it was my situation throughout the summer. For the first time in my life, I didn’t have the security of a full time job, benefits, and all of the self-esteem and confidence that come with it.
I remember how if affected me as a person…who was a parent. It made me very nervous. It made me very scared. It made me feel inadequate. It made me look at my friends’ profiles on Facebook, specifically any pictures of their kitchens and wonder, what the heck did I do wrong? Why didn’t my kitchens have granite countertops, nice fixtures, and those really cool silver appliances—maybe even an island with a stove on it? My kitchen is old and in desperate need of a remodel. And clearly anyone with a nice kitchen must be incredibly successful with a great paying job with security, while I’m still starting from scratch.
And things seem to compound when you don’t have a job. For us, one of our cars broke down and it was too expensive to fix. My wife was on the verge of finishing school and we didn’t want her to come off track—so her getting a job in between was an option we didn’t want to explore immediately. And of course, if you have the luxury of having insurance through your job, you’re going to lose it or pay a high price through Cobra. And this isn’t an option for me because my wife has a major heart condition and a collection of prescriptions and I don’t want to think about my son not having the ability to be covered, even though that’s a reality for many. In any case, if you’ve had the experience, you know what I’m talking about.
So what did I do to keep it together?
For me, the biggest challenge was staying positive. I can’t say that enough. Staying positive. Staying positive. Staying positive. Is that enough?
Although I was un-employed I was working towards getting employed every day. I had the opportunity to help start a new organization and get it on its feet. So I had the benefit of keeping my mind sharp and working towards something, which was helpful while I was also looking for other opportunities (as there are no guarantees, right?). I also started taking advantage of some resources available for me like Unemployment benefits. I knew I had to have healthcare for my wife and son, but I had some time to sign up for Cobra, so I held back until I explored some other options, namely in Illinois, the All Kids program which provides health coverage to children and adults. I knew there were cuts to these programs, so I didn’t expect to receive them for myself, but I was banking on these being available for my son. What I learned is that you need to wait 30 days of being unemployed to even apply. Why? They were reviewing my job history so if I didn’t wait, they’d be basing their decisions off of my previous employment status and salary. So I waited before applying at the earliest opportunity and it took 6 weeks for the application to be reviewed and approved for my son. So ultimately, I did have to pay for COBRA, but it was a finite expense.
Bills and debts? I started contacting them to let them know about my issues and to see if I could get support. I was able to defer my student loan payments just by proving I was on unemployment. And some of my credit card companies helped ease payments while I was transitioning (but that wasn’t easy). What helped was just being honest about the situation and continuing to make payments best I could. But any opportunity to lower my monthly payments helped a lot.
There are a lot more services to access…I’m sure of it. But, I didn’t pursue them to the extent of which I probably should have. The problem was I didn’t exactly know where to go. Does anyone reading this have ideas? (Please comment!)
How did it affect my parenting?
As I reflect back on it, it was one of the best summers of my adult life. It’s ironic that with all of the outside stressors, I can’t remember a more stress free summer. I spent so much time with my son taking advantage of whatever I could do with him that was free. Mostly this meant, going to the parks and being together outside, swimming in the pool or throwing a ball. Going to Lincoln Park Zoo was fun. Spending time at the library also worked well; lots of books, DVDs to rent for free, and (although they could have used more) some activities for parents and kids. And where I think I was most successful was that my son didn’t know the difference. We just got to enjoy each other.
It reminded me of my own experience growing up. My father used to be between jobs at times. It was the nature of his business. So I have memories of visiting his offices in downtown Chicago and I can also remember those periods when he was home all day churning away in the basement to drum up freelance work or look for a steady gig. What exactly he was doing, I don’t know. But I remember coming home from school every day and finding a nicely arranged plate of little cut up sausages, cheese and crackers or fruits or whatever snack it was that day for me and my brother. Everything was okay and he had something for us to munch on when we got there. And it didn’t make a difference what he was doing or where he was working. That’s what sticks in my mind.
I wish I could tell you that I was expert on what kids need and what the best things to do as a parent are. I’m not. I’m in it, like you. I guess from my perspective, kids have enough time to worry about bills and other stressors when they get older. My goal is to do my best not to transfer those onto my son. I just want my boy to know his Mom and Pop will be there every day with a smile… and maybe some sausages. He’s my granite countertop.
I haven't read many parenting books. And I know, that's a little surprising for a guy who spends most of his time talking and writing about being a dad.
So, if you chose to read no further, I understand. It's pitiful. I know.
But what I lack in reading and scholarly research, I've compensated for with a lot of observations, conversations with professionals and good old-fashioned trial-and-error. A little over 24 years of it. One of the things I've learned is that being an effective dad requires strong communications with your child. If you can nail that part of the dad job, the rest comes much easier.
A daunting task for sure -- especially as kids get older. So, here are my three top tips to help you grease that two-way road to trust-filled communications with your children.
Put It On Ice
You don't need to react so quickly to every situation. Slow down and think. Erupting like Mt. Vesuvius, spewing words and emotions, doesn't work. It's scary and models inappropriate behavior for your children.
Give yourself a little time to think. A minute. Five. With older kids I might wait several hours or even a day.
The key is to plant the seed with your child that the topic is "open" and that you're going to revisit it with them after the two of you have a chance to mutually think about it.
With little kids who are misbehaving, you can literally pick them up, carry them to their room, and have a firm chat after a couple of minutes of cool-down time. But with older kids, that tactic doesn't work. Additionally, if you verbally attack an older kid in the heat of the moment, they are likely to feel cornered and trapped. You're simply inviting them to verbally attack you back.
That's why (unless someone is at risk of being hurt or hurting someone), I'm now far more likely to say something like, "You know, the way you talk to me is just not working for me. But I'm not going to scream and simply hand you a punishment. I want you to think about it before we talk later this afternoon."
Kids desperately want respect. Even when they don't show it towards you. They want to be heard. When you introduce topics with respect and consideration, it makes it much harder for them to continue their cycle of behavior. Try it.
And when you feel the urge to lecture, limit it to 30 seconds.
Kids hate lectures. I bet you do, too. If you can't get 95 percent of your point made in 30 seconds, then you need to think through your message.
When I feel the need to preach to my kids, I introduce it with, "I need 30 seconds to share something with you that's been on my mind. Is your head in a good place to listen?"
And you know what? Nine times out of 10, my kids tell me to bring it on right then and there.
And you know something else? They listen.
I end my half-minute sermon with something like, "Okay, that's what I wanted you to know. I want to hear your thoughts later today when you're ready to talk."
Sometimes they want to talk right away. Sometimes they noodle and come back on their own. And sometimes I have to bring the subject back up a bit later. But it's almost always a smoother road to a sincere, open conversation.
Start with 30 seconds. It works.
Stop Solving Everything
This one took me years to figure out. It's one that is really hard for dads to get good at because we love fixing and solving things.
I'm talking about those times in life when your kids are mad, upset, hurt, frustrated, or angry over a host of things. Mean friends. Unfair coaches. Tough teachers. Annoying siblings. The list is miles long. I know for me, any time I used to hear another problem de jour, I'd reply to it with strategies for fixing it and make it go away.
"Here's what you need to do with your friends -"
"Next time your coach tells you blah, blah, blah, you should -"
"Well, you should never let your friends tell you -"
And you know what I've learned? Kids don't always want you to tell them what to do. They don't always need you to strategize. They're also far more resilient and capable than you give them credit for.
A lot of times, they just want you to be in the zone with them. Empathize. Go deep. Be in the moment. Experience their feelings. I figured this out one day when my 13-year-old daughter was sulking in her bedroom, angry at mean friends. It tore me apart. I didn't want her to hurt. But at the advice of another wise dad, I tried something new.
I went into her room, laid on the floor, and just stared at the ceiling with her.
And eventually she said, "I hate my friends."
And I replied, "That must suck to feel that way."
And what followed was a dad-changing moment. She told me details of what was going on while I just stared at the ceiling. She told me about her hurt and pain. And I just kept reaffirming my love for her, my sadness at the situation, and my understanding of her feelings.
And she was fine with that. She didn't need me to solve it.
She needed me to experience it with her.
I'm convinced that my actions sent her a far more important message than had I tried to give her an assortment of ideas to fix the specific problem.
So there you have it. My top three tips. And just in case you're thinking, "Taking the easy road, huh?" the truth is all three of these ideas require you to stop, think and really focus on what your child needs. They require conscious parenting.
But slowing down, taking time to think, fine-tuning your message, and acknowledging your child's emotions are collectively some of the best ways to build strong communications.
Try them out. Modify them to work for your family. The rewards are plentiful.
It can seem like school involvement is the realm of the mom, which probably springs from the days when it was almost invariably the mom who was home during the day. Things are different now, though, and many moms work. Even moms who don’t work outside the home might like to see their kids’ dad get involved in the kids’ school.
Benefits to Paternal Involvement
Regardless of where Mom and Dad are during the day, and whether or not Mom and Dad are divorced, there are distinct benefits to paternal involvement in kids’ education. Here are some of them.
* Better academic performance – Did you know that educators have found a positive academic trend among students whose dads are involved in their education? Kids with involved dads do better academically.
* Extracurricular activities – Research shows that kids with involved dads participate more in extracurricular activities.
* Better behavior and emotional health – Kids whose dads are involved in school tend to be emotionally healthier, have fewer problems with behavior, and enjoy school more.
How Dads Can Get Involved
You may be wondering how dads can get involved in school. Here are some tips.
* The child’s mom – Regardless of your relationship with your child’s mom, keeping it civil with her is just one less stress for your child to have to deal with. Your child might feel awkward, embarrassed, stressed, anxious, and a host of other negative emotions when you and your ex have a bad relationship. This is not conducive to your child’s academic success. Try to get along with your child’s mom and agree to attend school events, even if you both have to attend at the same time.
* Attend meetings and events – When there are parent-teacher conferences, go. The same is true for any meetings and conferences that are held at your child’s school, whether it’s about special education or the upcoming school year. Make your presence known, and your name and face will be associated with your child.
Events vary throughout the year, from school plays to after-school activities on the school’s campus. Try to attend as many as you can, and maybe suggest some of your own (like Lunch with Dad Day or some such).
* Meet the teacher – Get to know your child’s teacher and show him/her that you are involved and want to stay engaged. The teacher will then be more likely to give you information and contact you about relevant school matters.
* Be aware – As you get more involved and plan more involvement in your child’s school, remember that other kids may not be so lucky. Be careful that you don’t leave any kids out as you plan for dad-child events, and be ready to “fill in” for kids who need an adult male to support them.
Courtesy: Child Development Institute http://childdevelopmentinfo.com/
Forty years ago it was a novelty for a father to be present at the birth of his own child. Today we would be shocked if, instead of talking his partner through each painful contraction, Dad was downing a beer at the pub or nervously pacing up and down the hospital corridor.
Fatherhood in Transition
Feminist academic, author and father, Hugo Schwyzer, sees a real change in the way that the current generation of fathers are approaching their parenting role: “Many of them see fathering as a genuine vocation. They don’t just pay lip service to putting family first. They do it.”
While the shift towards shared parenting is real, a recent study found “seventy-five percent of men worry that their jobs prevent them from having the time to be the kind of dads they want to be.” And when asked what single change would make the greatest difference in their ability to juggle work and family life, fathers named workplace flexibility as their top demand.
Appearing in Issue #34. Order A Copy Today
What is the Father Effect?
The research shows that fathers are right to want to spend more time with their children. Involved fathers have a significant and positive impact on their children’s development. And while the greater economic security that results from having more than one parent is a factor, that alone does not fully explain the father effect.
Numerous studies have found that children who grow up in a household with a father show superior outcomes in intelligence tests. This is particularly marked in the area of non-verbal (or spatial) reasoning—ways of thinking that are important in fields such as mathematics, science and engineering. The IQ advantage is most commonly attributed to the way that fathers interact with their children, with an emphasis on the physical (especially roughhousing and outdoor activities) and play involving the manipulation of objects like blocks and Lego, rather than language based activities. However, a study of Chinese parents found that it was a father’s warmth toward his child that was the most important factor in predicting a child’s future academic success.
While much attention has been paid to the positive effect of fathers on their children’s intellectual development, a recent Canadian study provides new insight into the impact fathers have on their children’s emotional development.
Led by Erin Pougnet, the study found that children benefited most when fathers:
Previous research has shown that children experience an increase in negative emotions and behaviors when their father is absent, including:
Reflecting on these findings, Pougnet says, “One hypothesis is that girls experience stress and negative emotions differently than boys when their parents’ relationship breaks down and when they are faced with things such as discord between their parents, mothers’ difficulties upon family disruption, and negative parentchild relationships.”
At the same time, Pougnet cautions that a home environment marred by high levels of parental conflict, particularly aggression, can be highly damaging to a child’s development.
In her view, “This research does not indicate that children whose fathers do not live with them are necessarily put at a disadvantage. Because couple conflict, in particular, was a risk factor for increased intellectual and emotional difficulties in children—it is preferable for children to grow up in a single-person household than in a conflict-ridden environment.”
What the Research Means
Parents can take heart from the growing body of research into the father effect, knowing that greater involvement by fathers is highly beneficial to children.
All parents, whether male or female, can learn from the positive findings on the father effect by providing children with:
Dr. Schwyzer agrees that there is much room for optimism when it comes to the current generation of dads: “Our fathers loved us, but often lacked the vocabulary to express it and the skills to put that love into tender actions. This younger generation has those tools.”
This article appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue #34.
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The Involved FatherBy Glenn Stanton
Email Part of the The Involved Father Series
Fathers are just as essential to healthy child development as mothers. Psychology Today explained, "Fatherhood turns out to be a complex and unique phenomenon with huge consequences for the emotional and intellectual growth of children."1
Erik Erikson, a pioneer in the world of child psychology, asserts that a father's love and a mother's love are qualitatively different. Fathers "love more dangerously" because their love is more "expectant, more instrumental" than a mother's love.2 A father brings unique contributions to the job of parenting a child that no one else can replicate. Following are some of the most compelling ways that a father’s involvement makes a positive difference in a child's life.
Fathers parent differently.Fathering expert Dr. Kyle Pruett explains that fathers have a distinct style of communication and interaction with children. By eight weeks of age, infants can tell the difference between their mother’s and father’s interaction with them.
This diversity, in itself, provides children with a broader, richer experience of contrasting relational interactions. Whether they realize it or not, children are learning, by sheer experience, that men and women are different and have different ways of dealing with life, other adults and children. This understanding is critical for their development.
Fathers play differently.Fathers tickle more, they wrestle, and they throw their children in the air (while mother says . . . "Not so high!"). Fathers chase their children, sometimes as playful, scary "monsters."
Fathering expert John Snarey explains that children who roughhouse with their fathers learn that biting, kicking and other forms of physical violence are not acceptable.3 They learn self-control by being told when "enough is enough" and when to settle down. Girls and boys both learn a healthy balance between timidity and aggression.
Fathers build confidence.Go to any playground and listen to the parents. Who is encouraging kids to swing or climb just a little higher, ride their bike just a little faster, throw just a little harder? Who is encouraging kids to be careful? Mothers protect and dads encourage kids to push the limits.
Either of these parenting styles by themselves can be unhealthy. One can tend toward encouraging risk without consideration of consequences. The other tends to avoid risk, which can fail to build independence and confidence. Together, they help children remain safe while expanding their experiences and increasing their confidence.
Fathers communicate differently.A major study showed that when speaking to children, mothers and fathers are different. Mothers will simplify their words and speak on the child's level. Men are not as inclined to modify their language for the child. The mother's way facilitates immediate communication; the father's way challenges the child to expand her vocabulary and linguistic skills — an important building block of academic success.
Fathers discipline differently.Educational psychologist Carol Gilligan tells us that fathers stress justice, fairness and duty (based on rules), while mothers stress sympathy, care and help (based on relationships). Fathers tend to observe and enforce rules systematically and sternly, teaching children the consequences of right and wrong. Mothers tend toward grace and sympathy, providing a sense of hopefulness. Again, either of these disciplinary approaches by themselves is not good, but together, they create a healthy, proper balance.
Fathers prepare children for the real world.Involved dads help children see that attitudes and behaviors have consequences. For instance, fathers are more likely than mothers to tell their children that if they are not nice to others, kids will not want to play with them. Or, if they don't do well in school, they will not get into a good college or secure a desirable job. Fathers help children prepare for the reality and harshness of the world.
Fathers provide a look at the world of men.Men and women are different. They eat differently. They dress differently. They cope with life differently. Girls and boys who grow up with a father are more familiar and secure with the curious world of men.
Girls with involved, married fathers are more likely to have healthier relationships with the opposite sex because they learn from their fathers how proper men act toward women. They know which behaviors are inappropriate.
They also have a healthy familiarity with the world of men — they don't wonder how a man's facial stubble feels or what it's like to be hugged by strong arms. This knowledge builds emotional security and safety from the exploitation of predatory males.
Boys who grow up with dads are less likely to be violent. They have their masculinity affirmed and learn from their fathers how to channel their masculinity and strength in positive ways. Fathers help sons understand proper male sexuality, hygiene and behavior in age-appropriate ways. As noted sociologist David Popenoe explains, "Fathers are far more than just 'second adults' in the home. Involved fathers — especially biological fathers — bring positive benefits to their children that no other person is as likely to bring."4
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Copyright © 2004 Glenn T. Stanton. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.