Articles for Fathers

Everything listed under: parental role

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    Fathering is Child's Play

    A young girl was touring the social worker through the home she shared with her father. When she came to her bedroom, she proudly showed the woman everything in her room. With big eyes and a huge smile, the little girl asked, “Would you like to see bombs away?”

    Hesitantly, the social worker said yes. “Come on Dad, let’s show her,” said the little girl.

    Dad came over to the bed, grabbed his daughter’s arms and legs and started swinging her. Finally, he let go as she yelled, “Bombs away!” and landed on her bed. Loud, gleeful laughter followed.

    Looking horrified, the social worker said, “Stop! No! You should not be doing that.” Both father and daughter looked at her with troubled and quizzical faces and said, “We shouldn’t be doing bombs away?”

    “This is probably one of the best examples of the difference in how men and women view play with children,” said Dr. Ron Klinger, founder of the Center for Successful Fathering and author of The Common Sense No-Frills, Plain-English Guide to Being a Successful Dad.

    “Researchers tell us that children of all ages from infants to high school prefer play with dad over mom because it is unpredictable, physical, rough, dad cheats, and it’s fun. It is a test – it stretches you. You find yourself doing things you would never do. Most importantly, it is a playful form or preparation for the challenges our children will face in the real world.”

    Klinger contends that what the father was doing with his daughter was totally appropriate. While mothers are the initial primary caregivers and continue to be the nurturers and protectors, it is the father’s job to engage his children in rough and tumble play and to encourage them to take risks.

    However, the challenge for many is that nearly 80 percent of dads today did not grow up with an actively involved father in their lives. When moms say, “Don’t play so rough,” most guys don’t know to say, “But this is what I am supposed to be doing.”

    “The bonding with a child and their father is based on this rough and tumble play,” Klinger said. “This playful interaction turns out to be very powerful in teaching independence, self-reliance and courage. It also encourages children to become more tolerant of frustration. The father is introducing the child to a world that is defined by adventure and adversity, not comfort.”

    There are other benefits of rough and tumble play for children, too. They include:

    • Building a bond of affection and trust with their father;

    • Exposure to personal challenges such as riding a bike;

    • Learning to be a successful risk-taker;

    • Building self-confidence;

    • Girls growing up to be unintimidated by competitive men; and

    • Becoming resilient.

    “When a mother approaches her child, the infant’s heart rate begins to slow down,” Klinger said. “When a father approaches his child, their heart rate begins to race in anticipation of excitement and action. Babies need this to stimulate brain activity. 

    “I can remember when my own son would climb our spiral staircase and leap out to me below. The space separating us was only a couple of feet, but he was jumping from seven feet high. He was investing a huge amount of trust in me. Admittedly, this is the kind of thing that drives mom nuts, yet it's exactly what dads and children should be doing. Play is the antidote for anxiety.”


    Looking for more? Check out this episode of JulieB TV on this topic!


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    7 Ways Dads Can Connect With Their Kids

    In the movie Overboard, a man tricks a woman with amnesia into thinking she is a wife and the mother of four. Annie (the mother) gets fed up with the father for not spending time with his children. His response to her? He says he is a pal to his kids, and that he "brings home the paycheck, which is what the man of the house is supposed to do."

    Annie’s response? “Your children have pals. What they need is a father.”

    For many years, experts told fathers that bringing home a paycheck and leaving the parenting to Mom was the most important example they could set for their family. 

    Now, research shows that having a loving and nurturing father is as valuable as having a loving and nurturing mother for a child’s happiness, well-being and social and academic success. It isn’t just about bringing home the bacon.

    Looking back, Scotty Probasco, Jr. recognizes that his dad did a whole lot more than just bring home a paycheck. As a result, his influence is still present in his life today. He set an example that helped his children understand what it means to experience life to the fullest.

    “My dad and I were as different as night and day,” Probasco says. "He served in both World Wars and was a very stern man, yet he was a nurturing presence in my life. He showed me what it meant to be a loving husband and father by working hard, yet making sure that he spent time with our family. My dad believed that work was honorable and fun. He taught me that I ought to try to do things that would make the world a little bit better. Throughout my life, I have tried to live out the lessons my father taught me.”

    Mr. Probasco, Sr. set an example for his son that not only taught him about taking care of his family, it taught him about the greater good: Understanding that it is not all about you. He knew that some of the greatest blessings people receive are from giving to others.

    There is no doubt that involved dads do make a difference in the lives of their children. However, some fathers struggle with how to engage their children so they can provide a nurturing example.

    If you really want to connect with your children, try these tips from the experts.

    • Respect your child’s mother. If you are married, keep your marriage relationship strong. If you are not married to your child's mother, it is still important to respect and support her. Parents who respect each other are better able to provide a secure environment for their children.

    • Spend time with your children. Treasuring children often means sacrificing other things, but spending time with your kids is essential. You lose missed opportunities forever.

    • Talk to your children. Too frequently, dads only speak with their kids when they have done something wrong. Take time to listen to their ideas and problems with they are young. If you do that, they will still want to talk with you when they get older.

    • Discipline with love. Children need guidance and discipline, not as punishment, but to set reasonable limits. When you discipline in a calm and fair manner, you show love for your child.

    • Be a role model. A girl who spends time with a loving father grows up knowing she deserves for boys to treat her with respect, and she knows what to look for in a husband. Fathers can teach sons what is important in life by demonstrating honesty and responsibility.

    • Be a teacher. Teaching your kids about right and wrong encourages them to do their best, and you will likely see them make good choices. Use everyday examples to help your children learn the basic lessons of life.

    • Show affection. Children need the security that comes from knowing their family wants, accepts and loves them. Show appropriate affection every day -it's the best way to let your children know that you love them.

    And finally, don’t underestimate your significant role in your child’s life.

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    Why Fathers Matter

    Dr. Warren Farrell, psychologist and author of Father Child Reunion, was intrigued with why children with active fathers do so well. In an attempt to better understand it, he spent more than a decade analyzing worldwide research.

    “I knew when I started this research that dads were important, but I had no idea how important,” says Farrell. “We are 100 percent certain that children do better in 26 different areas when they grow up in intact families. Children clearly pay a price when their fathers walk away or mothers keep dads away.”

    A father's impact starts at birth. For example, boys who have contact with their father show greater levels of trust at only 5 or 6 months. A study of black infants found the more interaction the boy had with the father, the higher his mental competence and psychomotor function by the age of 6 months.

    As children grow, fathers teach children to have empathy. Dads are usually more firm about enforcing boundaries. Teaching children to take boundaries seriously teaches them to respect the needs and rights of others.

    “Fathers also play a huge role in teaching delayed gratification, the single most important highway to maturity,” Farrell says. “When children are allowed to do something without having to do anything to get there, it undermines this process.”

    Children with fathers present in the home do better academically, especially in math and science. This is true even if they come from weaker schools. A study by two Harvard researchers found that even when race, education, poverty and similar socioeconomic factors are equal, living without a dad doubled a child’s chance of dropping out of school.

    Another study of boys with similar backgrounds found that by the third grade, boys with present fathers scored higher on every achievement test. They also received higher grades. The more years children spend with single mothers, the fewer years of school they complete.

    “When fathers are present, children have better mental health,” Farrell says. “They are more likely to get along well with other children, sleep well at night, be trusting of others, and are less likely to be aggressive or participate in risky behavior.”

    The National Center for Health Statistics reports that:

    • A child living with his/her divorced mother, compared to a child living with both parents, is 375 percent more likely to need professional treatment for emotional or behavioral problems;
    • Ninety percent of homeless or runaway children are from fatherless homes; and
    • Most gang members come from mother-only households.

    “Growing up in an intact family gives children a jump-start in life,” Farrell says. “If a divorce is unavoidable, there are three absolute essentials to give children:

    • Equal amounts of time spent with both parents;
    • The mother and father should live close enough (no more than 15 minutes) that the child doesn’t have to give up friends or activities to see the other parent; and,
    • The child is not able to overhear or detect bad-mouthing of the other parent.

    "If these three things happen, children tend to grow up almost as well as children in intact families.”

    It's very helpful if we understand that what dads do or don’t do really matters. Moreover, the way mothers handle it impacts their child's life forever.

    For more information on the importance of fathers, download our E-book "Why Being a dad is a BIG Deal" Download Here


    Looking for more? Check out this episode of JulieB TV on this topic!