The pressures of fatherhood are great. On any given day, balancing work and family, finances and discipline are usually three issues that rank at the top of the list. Our culture has been telling men that being a good provider equates to being a good dad. However, research is now sending a newsflash to men, and women, that it isn’t all about the money. Children need father presence in their lives.
Many men have heard that they need to be involved in the lives of their children, but the definition of what it means to be involved can differ from one man to the next.
First Things First encourages men to ask themselves the question, “Why do I father my children the way I do?”
So many men are really trying to be great fathers, but they struggle because nobody was there for them growing up and they aren’t sure what it means to be a good dad. A lot of men promise they are going to be more involved with their children because of the lack of involvement of their own father. Unfortunately, they find themselves hard-pressed because they don’t know what to do. They have spent a lot of time talking about what they aren’t going to do and little if any time discussing what they are going to do. So they amble along doing the best they know how with limited knowledge.
In an analysis of nearly 100 studies on parent-child relationships, father love (measured by children’s perceptions of paternal acceptance/rejection, affection/indifference) was as important as mother love in predicting the social, emotional, and cognitive development and functioning of children and young adults.
Specifically, the studies showed that:
Men have to learn how to strike a balance between providing for their family and nurturing their family. Many men don’t feel comfortable connecting with their children emotionally so they spend most of their waking hours away from home.
Our message to men is this: Don’t spend all your time away from your family trying to make something happen for your family or you defeat the purpose. In many instances, the mere presence of a father is better than tons of things and planned activities.
Here are some tips for dads who want to be more connected to their children:
So what is the payoff for being an engaged father?
The benefits are significant for both father and child. Children with an involved, loving father are significantly more likely to do well in school, have healthy self-esteem, exhibit empathy and pro-social behavior, and avoid high-risk behaviors such as drug use, truancy and criminal activity. Even though 18 years may seem like an eternity, children grow up really quickly, so maximize precious moments with them.
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