We often hear about studies done with mothers and their children, but it is always fascinating to read about research on fathers and their children. It’s especially interesting to see the correlation of how being a good dad or father figure can greatly impact children in a bigger way than most realize.
As a woman and a mother, I will never know what it feels like to be a father and vice versa. However, I do get to personally look and see the joy that my daughter feels when she’s with her father. The way they interact is different, and the way they communicate and play are different too. Children need good parents and role models.
Children who have close relationships with father figures are less likely to drop out of high school, less likely to go to jail, have healthier stable relationships, higher IQ scores and fewer psychological disorders.
“When fathers are actively involved with their children, children do better,” says Paul Amato, Ph.D, a sociologist who studies parent-child relationships at Pennsylvania State University. “Research suggests that fathers are important for a child’s development.”
The father doesn’t even have to be biological. Children with outstanding stepfathers perform better in school, enjoy healthier relationships with their peers, and are less likely to suffer from depression than kids who grow up in single-parent homes.
A few ways dads and father figures can be there for the children in their lives is to:
Go to their extracurricular activities and be supportive. Cheer for them with the same enthusiasm whether they are at gymnastics, ballet, softball, football or soccer and just like you cheer for your favorite sports team.
Play with them. Nothing makes a child’s day greater and more memorable than a parent playing silly games with them. Tea parties, board games, card games and pretend are all good times!
Teach your children. Dads and father figures are great at problem solving, so teach them how to fix things. It doesn’t have to be something as complicated as an engine (though if the child is willing, then go for it), but little things like their toys, the computer, or a kitchen cabinet are great starting points. Children are generally very eager to help with tasks they think are only for grown-ups.
Take your child outside. Going for an easy hike on a trail, walking around the neighborhood, fishing, or hitting up garage sales offer many memorable possibilities. You can also fit in some teaching time to talk about nature, history or whatever random subject you two talk about. You will likely end up learning quite a bit about your child you wouldn’t have known otherwise.
To all of you great fathers and father figures out there: Thank you for being protectors, loving your children, and always being there. Most of all, thank you for giving us dad jokes! You matter and bring so much to your families. Happy Father’s Day!
Quoida Lauzon is a Capital District mom and a Registered Nurse who specializes in maternal and infant health, breastfeeding and childbirth education. Connect with her on social media @nurse.q.lauzon or visit nurseq.com.