With the celebration of Father’s Day this month, I thought it would be fun to examine the importance of fathers.

My first stop was to talk to the experts… our kids! First, I’ll share what a sampling of kids said and then I’ll share what the research tell us.

“What Do You Like Most About Your Dad?”

“I like a lot of things about my dad but one thing I like the most is that he cares about me and I know that he would do anything to keep me and my family safe.” Carolyn

“How I’m just like him so he understands me.” Jake

“He listens sometimes. He wants to do fun things with me. He likes to hang out. He’s cool. He likes to teach me things like taking a wheel off the car. We’re going to build an airplane together.” Taylor

“He’s funny and he loves me.” Halle

“He’s selfless. He puts everyone else before him. I know I would not be the person I am today without his love and support. He comes to almost all of my dance shows which means the world to me. I am so blessed to have someone like him in my life. He’s a good listener. He can fix everything. He’s fun to spend time with. He’s very helpful. He’s pretty good at Wii golf. He is just an amazing dad.” Brianna

“My Dad is important because he’s the man of the family. He can do big things like mow the lawn, build a treehouse or teach you how to play a sport. He can also do little things like helping me with my homework, making breakfast in the mornings or coming to my baseball games. Fathers are important to everyone. Make sure that you let him know he’s important!” Matt

“His support.” Rachel

“We love that he spends time coaching our teams. He also works hard to get us a good home.” Trey and Kyle

“He always makes me laugh.” Clare

What the Research Says on the Importance of Fathers:

Research tells us that a father’s love is just as important as a mother’s love and can be a protective factor helping to prevent delinquent behavior in children. Kids with involved dads also tend to have higher IQs, better verbal and cognitive abilities, higher educational achievement, higher self-esteem, and are better able to regulate their emotions.

Researchers found that, overall, the love — or rejection — of mothers and fathers equally affects kids’ behavior, self-esteem, emotional stability, and mental health. “But in some cases, the withdrawal of a father’s love seems to play a bigger role in kids’ problems with personality and psychological adjustment, delinquency, and substance abuse,” says Ronald P. Rohner, Ph.D., director of the Center for the Study of Parental Acceptance and Rejection at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. “And for other children, the presence of a father’s love may do more to boost children’s sense of well-being and improve their emotional and physical health.” (Parents, Sandra Lee, http://www.parents.com/parenting/dads/issues-trends/importance-of-fathers-involvement/ )

“Fathers are far more than just ‘second adults’ in the home,” said noted sociologist Dr. David Popenoe. “Involved fathers bring positive benefits to their children that no other person is likely to bring. Fathers have a direct impact on the wellbeing of their children.” (Child Welfare Information Gateway)

Interestingly, when a father and mother have a strong, loving, happy, respectful relationship, these attributes encourage a father to be more involved with their children and improve the quality of parenting. The children also reap the rewards of a strong mother-father relationship and end up more affectionate, emotionally stable, and have healthier relationships with peers and other loved ones.

“One of the most important benefits of a positive relationship between mother and father is the behavior it models for children. Fathers who treat the mothers of their children with respect and deal with conflict within the relationship in an adult and appropriate manner are more likely to have boys who understand how they are to treat women and who are less likely to act in an aggressive fashion toward females. Girls with involved, respectful fathers see how they should expect men to treat them and are less likely to become involved in violent or unhealthy relationships. In contrast, research has shown that husbands who display anger, show contempt for, or who stonewall their wives with the silent treatment are more likely to have children who are anxious, withdrawn, or antisocial.” (Child Welfare Information Gateway)

The presence of a responsible father also improves academic performance and reduces disciplinary problems among children.

Preschoolers with actively involved fathers have stronger verbal skills. Children with actively involved fathers display less behavior problems in school. Girls with strong relationships with their fathers do better in math. Boys with actively involved fathers tend to get better grades and perform better on achievement tests. Research shows that even very young children who have experienced high father involvement show an increase in curiosity and in problem solving capacity. Fathers’ involvement seems to encourage children’s exploration of the world around them and confidence in their ability to solve problems. Highly involved fathers also contribute to increased mental dexterity in children, increased empathy, less stereotyped sex role beliefs and greater self-control. When non-custodial fathers are highly involved with their children’s learning, the children are more likely to get A’s at all grade levels. (www.fatherhood.gov)

In Dads and Daughters, Joe Kelly, executive director of Dads and Daughters, explains that a father will model the type of relationship a girl should expect to have when she marries. Kelly said, “A father who plays with his daughter — shooting hoops, kicking a ball around, taking walks together — is making a payment on an insurance policy that she’ll grow up to be confident and strong.” Kelly encourages dads to be good listeners but also to be physically active with them. (Parents, Sandra Lee, http://www.parents.com/parenting/dads/issues-trends/importance-of-fathers-involvement/ )

Happy Father’s Day to all the great dads in the world that share themselves so selflessly!! You are loved!


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