Articles for Fathers

Everything listed under: father

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    Where Have All the Fathers Gone?

    Several years ago a company donated Mother’s Day cards for prisoners to send to their mothers, and they actually ran out of cards. The company also donated cards for Father’s Day, but guess what? This time, inmates only used a handful of cards. This shocked the company.

    A Pew research piece may offer some insight into why this happened. After analyzing the 2011 American Community Survey, Pew asserted that a record 40 percent of all households with children under 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income for the family.

    On the surface this sounds like a victory for women, but the report's details tell a very different story. It shows that two very different groups make up these "breadwinner moms." Actually, 5.1 million are married mothers who earn more than their husbands, and 8.6 million are single mothers.

    “You would never guess from the triumphant headlines in the media that almost two-thirds of the family breadwinners are single mothers,” says Kay Hymowitz, William E. Simon Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of Manning Up and Marriage and Caste in America. “These mothers are not ‘top earners,’ they are the only earners. Only 37 percent of the ‘breadwinning women’ are married mothers who are making more than their husbands, and in many instances, this is because the husband lost his job.”

    A whopping 63 percent (8.6 million) of these moms are single mothers, 29 percent of whom are not working at all. More than half of the children in homes with single moms are growing up poor. According to the report, a growing number of these women never married. Other studies have shown that never-married mothers tend to get less financial assistance from their children’s fathers than previously-married mothers.

    The Atlantic responded to the Pew research by saying, ‘Employment and gender roles in the United States continue to shift away from the Leave it to Beaver model. Murphy Brown is winning,’” Hymowitz says. “It speaks volumes that the article’s vision of a single mother is a make-believe character who is a television news star.”

    Research still consistently shows that children do better in every way when their two parents are present in the home. So what exactly are we celebrating? It isn’t about who makes more – it’s about helping families thrive.

    On Father's Day, perhaps prisoners took so few cards for a reason. Maybe it's because so many fathers have walked away from caring for and engaging with their children, although others want to be there. Oftentimes, a father's seemingly irreconcilable differences with the other parent keeps them from engaging with their kids.

    Whatever the case, guess who loses? The children.

    An analysis of 100 studies on parent-child relationships shows that having a loving and nurturing father is very important. It's as crucial for a child’s happiness, well-being, social and academic success as having a loving and nurturing mother.

    Dad, your kids need you.

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    Don't Waste Father's Day

    Once a man took the day off to take his son fishing. His son was thrilled that his father would take a day away from important work to spend time with him, and he considered this day as one of the best days of his life. After the father passed away, his son found a diary among his dad's possessions and began reading it. When he came to the day they spent together fishing, the entry read, “Took off work to take son fishing. Day wasted.”

    Essays written for an FTF essay contest about fathers often described a warm and loving relationship between father and child, but some children were courageous enough to write about their strained relationship with their father. They described difficult circumstances and even questioned their father’s love. However, each of them seemed to hold out hope that their relationship with their father would someday be better.

    Many people, young and old, find themselves in a father-child relationship that is difficult at best. Words and deeds from the past continue to drive a deep wedge in the relationship. Deep down they would like things to be better, but they don’t know how to change the situation for the better. In too many instances, one party is waiting for the other to apologize.

    If you find yourself in a similar circumstance, here are five steps you can take to restore your relationship.

    • Be willing to make the first move.

    • Forgive. Forgiveness doesn’t mean the behavior was justified. It means you are willing to cut someone loose from a debt and move on with your life.

    • Keep your expectations realistic. Relationships do not mend overnight, so it will take time and commitment on your part. You can’t predict how someone else will respond, but you can choose how to deal with whatever it might be.

    • Accept the person for who they are. Everyone has faults. It's easy to tell a person how they need to change. It is much harder to accept them where they are with all of their strengths and weaknesses.

    • Celebrate the small steps toward restoration. Even though the relationship may not be all you want it to be, understand that even the smallest move toward reconciliation is reason to celebrate.

    Distressed relationships do not happen overnight. Through a series of events, people become wounded and keep a tally sheet; then bitterness grows into anger and relationships weaken. It only takes one person to take the first step toward mending a broken relationship. Even if the other person doesn’t respond, you can allow healing to happen in your own life. If nothing else, you will know that you have made an effort to change the situation for the better.

    Don’t let this Father’s Day be “a day wasted.” If your relationship with your father is a great one, be thankful and show it. If your relationship with your father or child is less than what you would like it to be, take heart and know that you can be the one to take the first step to repair that broken relationship.

    As you begin this journey it will be helpful to remember the three P's: Be practical, patient and persevere. You never know what might happen. A bad relationship can become better and a good relationship can become great, so never give up. It may take longer than you would like, but when you least expect it, your relationship could take a turn for the better.

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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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    Preparing for Fatherhood

    Don McKenna attended a First Things First fatherhood class when he and his wife, Missy, were expecting.

    “I saw a billboard about it and thought it looked interesting,” says McKenna. “I convinced a friend who was also expecting his first child to go with me. It totally was not what I was expecting. Hands down, it was the best thing I could have done in preparation for becoming a father.”

    McKenna assumed the class would be about how to change a diaper and feed his baby a bottle. Instead, he encountered a group of guys who were just as fearful as he was about becoming a father.

    “The class was a relief for me,” McKenna says. “First off, a guy taught the class. On top of that, we got to talk about our fears and concerns. Had we not done that, I think I would have been intimidated. Being more comfortable about caring for Brooks – not feeling like I was going to break him if I held him – gave me the best opportunity to bond with him from the moment he was born.”

    McKenna says the class helped him understand the different parenting styles most moms and dads have. He was able to talk with his wife about his style being different, but not wrong.

    “I wanted to do some things with our son that made my wife nervous, like the time I wanted to take him as a 2-year-old for a ride on the tractor,” McKenna says. “She was worried he would get hurt. Instead of telling her how stupid it was for her to be concerned, I took small steps to show her that I was just as concerned as she was for his safety. I put a helmet on him and we rode around very slowly. When she saw him giggling and having a good time, she relaxed a bit. I think I am definitely more patient with my wife and my child as a result of the class.”

    The experience was so worthwhile, McKenna recruited six guys for the class. He also went with them.

    “Anytime I find out a couple friend is expecting, one of the first things I tell the guy is you really need to take this class,” McKenna says. “It will give you great perspective on fathering and the importance of being involved in the life of your child.”

    Although the class helped prepare McKenna for his new parenting role, he got an extra benefit. It also helped him in his marriage.

    “It is important to me and Missy to raise Brooks in an environment that will help him thrive,” McKenna shares. “One of the things I learned is our marriage can’t take a back seat while we are raising our son. We have to be intentional about taking care of our relationship because that is what gives Brooks the stability, confidence and security he needs to grow and develop. Being a parent has been a humbling and amazing experience,” McKenna says.

    Looking back on the last few years, McKenna wouldn’t trade his time with his son and how they have grown as a family.

    If you want to learn more about preparing for fatherhood, check out our classes here.

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    What If Katy Perry is Wrong?

    In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Katy Perry discusses wanting a baby someday. She says,

    “ ...but I need to really be able to focus 100 percent of my attention on it. I don't really want to take the child on tour. Not until, like, birth through five is over."

    She then adds that it doesn’t really matter if there is a guy in the picture or not.

    “I don’t need a dude ... it’s 2014! We are living in the future; we don’t need anything … I’m not anti-men. I love men. But there is an option if someone doesn’t present himself.”

    It’s pretty clear that Perry wants to be a great mom, but she thinks that having an active father in the life of her child is optional. With reams of research indicating dads are not just an accessory, it would be interesting to talk with children with absent fathers to see if they agree with Perry.

    There is a great deal of information about what helps children thrive. Research across disciplines shows that children do better when they are raised with their mother and father.

    “Some of the toughest athletes I know lose it when you talk with them about their father,” says Carey Casey, Ambassador for Fathers at the National Center for Fathering. “There has never been a guy who said to me, 'I don’t want to see my dad; I don’t need a father.' Usually, they say, ‘I would give it all up to meet my dad for just a moment.’”

    The last two decades have produced significant research indicating that children who live absent their biological fathers are, on average:

    • at least two to three times more likely to be poor, to use drugs, to experience educational, health, emotional and behavioral problems;

    • to be victims of child abuse, and

    • to engage in criminal behavior more than their peers who live with their married, biological (or adoptive) parents.

    Additional research indicates that 90 percent of homeless and runaway children, 71 percent of high school dropouts and 63 percent of young people who commit suicide are from fatherless homes.

    While it is highly unlikely that Perry’s child would be financially poor, wealth does not replace the hole in a child’s heart from growing up fatherless. Times have changed, but the reality is, you still can’t make a baby without a man being involved. How then would society come to the conclusion that children don’t need their father?

    Does Perry’s kind of thinking perpetuate the problem?

    Men have heard women say they aren’t necessary, and media often portrays men as bumbling idiots. Perhaps they actually believe they aren’t necessary. The message is quite confusing when on the one hand society is asking men to step up and be the fathers their children need them to be, and on the other hand they are told they just create problems and make life more complicated.

    “Ultimately, a child will ask, ‘Who is my dad?’” Casey says. “It is in our DNA to want to know where we came from.”

    Who stands to lose the most when one intentionally decides to have a child with no father in the picture - the adult or the child? 

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    Dad's Role in a Daughter's Marriage

    Sometimes the closeness of a father/daughter relationship can interfere with the couple relationship.

    For example, one couple was arguing over purchasing a $600 set of dishes. According to the husband, they could not afford them. As a result, the wife was furious.

    When she told her father that her husband would not purchase the dishes, her dad purchased them for her. Some might say, "Why is this a problem? He was just trying help."

    But most relationship experts would say the dad crossed a line when he got in the middle of something the couple needed to figure out for themselves. If she thinks she can run to her father and get what she wants every time there is a disagreement about spending money, two things will eventually happen:

    • The husband will grow to completely resent his father-in-law, or

    • The daughter will stop discussing these things with her husband and go straight to her father to get what she wants.

    Neither of these outcomes are good for the marriage.

    Couples need to openly discuss these potential pitfalls and agree ahead of time about boundaries and expectations within their marriage.

    For Fathers:

    While it may be difficult, it is important for you to step back emotionally once your daughter is married. Even though you enjoy doing things for her, it is better to ask yourself one question: Is if what I am about to do going to be helpful to their marriage?

    If the answer is no, don't do it. OR, ask them how they would feel about you helping. If both aren't in agreement that it would be helpful, then don't do it. Let them figure it out.

    It's hard to believe that any guy will ever measure up and be good enough for your daughter. If you want their marriage to be successful, however, guard against criticizing your son-in-law.

    Recognize it is not your job to control things. And while she will always be your daughter, her husband comes first.

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    Dad's Impact on Teens

    For decades, research has indicated a strong correlation between involved fathers and child well-being. A 2009 study published in Child Development specifically continues this trend for preventing risky sexual behavior.

    Researchers led by Boston College Associate Professor Rebekah Levine Coley surveyed 3,206 teens, ages 13-18, annually for four years. They asked teens from two-parent homes about their sexual behavior and their relationship with their parents.

    The study assessed this group of teens two different ways. Here are their conclusions:

    • Mom plays a role in preventing risky sexual behavior, but dad has double the influence. The more a dad engaged with his teen, from knowing their friends and activities to knowing their plans and encouraging family activities, the more dramatic the impact on decreasing risky sexual behavior.

    • The chances of a teen engaging in risky sexual behavior decreased when actively engaged fathers knew their teen well and participated frequently in family activities.

    • Young people involved with risky sexual behaviors reported lower levels of parental knowledge and involvement. Results actually showed that one additional family activity per week resulted in a nine percent decrease in sexual activity.

    “We have known for a long time that fathers bring a unique set of parenting skills to the table,” says Dr. Cheryl Robinson, UC Foundation Associate Professor of Child and Family Studies. “This study is significant because it was conducted with teens in two-parent homes. The findings were no different than the vast amount of research with high-risk teens, those living in divorced or never-married homes. Children need father involvement.”

    This doesn’t seem like rocket science, but the reality is that many fathers struggle with their role as a parent.

    “The message to both moms and dads, but especially to dads is, be involved with your child,” Robinson says. “Just because they grow up and get taller than you does not mean they are adults. You have to continuously stay involved with them. Involvement gives you the opportunity to teach them, to help them develop good decision-making skills and to transmit values. You can talk all day and tell them not to do something. But if they are with you and see your behavior, they understand why they shouldn’t do those things.”

    Dad, your teen may be outwardly sending you messages that make you think your parental involvement doesn’t matter. Don’t let them fool you. Intentionally engaging your teen at every level can dramatically enhance his life.

    "Don’t be afraid to set expectations with your teen concerning family time, knowing their friends and how they are spending their time,” Robinson says. “They may roll their eyes, but you are providing a safety net that will help them navigate life’s treacherous roads for years to come.”

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

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    A Father's Presence Has an Impact

    A few years ago, Dewayne Belew began coaching his son Christopher’s basketball team at the YMCA. Christopher aged out of the YMCA basketball leagues after eighth grade, but since he still wanted to play, he and his dad would shoot hoops together.

    “Early on, Christopher wasn’t necessarily an outstanding player, but he had a great work ethic,” says Belew. “He would watch what characters in video games did and then try to emulate what he saw when we played together. He ultimately made the junior varsity team at his school, but he wanted more.”

    As Christopher and his dad continued to play, they looked for other competitive-play opportunities.

    “At that point our church, Wesley Memorial United Methodist, hired a new youth director, Nate Davis, who also happens to love basketball,” Belew says. “One thing led to another and we ended up opening the gym at the church on Saturday mornings from 8 to 10 for anyone who wanted to come play.”

    Initially, Belew, his son and Davis and his sons invited a few people to join them on Saturday mornings. Word spread quickly and before long they had a crowd of young adults in their 20s, high school teens and middle schoolers, male and female - all wanting to play.

    “If you had told me we would have a bunch of young people who intentionally go to bed early on Friday night so they can get up and go play basketball for fun on Saturday morning at 8, I would have told you no way, but that’s exactly what is happening. We have a lot of fun. My personal goal is to not let them outhustle me, but all of them outplay me.”

    In the midst of the game, Belew contends that a lot of learning takes place.

    “The guys all know that the gym is usually already set up for Sunday so whatever is in place has to be taken down before they can play and replaced before they leave,” Belew says. “We play hard. It is definitely competitive, but everybody gets to play. We’ve got some really talented players who teach those who are coming along. I love watching the young adults come alongside the teens to help them hone their skills.”

    Belew shared that a teen told him he plays basketball all over the community, but this is his favorite place to play because everybody plays hard, nobody is foul-mouthed and nobody gets angry. It’s fun.

    “In the midst of all of this we have the opportunity to model appropriate behavior around not just the game, but life in general,” Belew says. “We are a very diverse crowd on Saturday mornings. For many of these folks, it was the only time they engaged with each other. Now, they are building relationships. Before we start playing, we always gather at mid court to pray for each other and we give people the chance to share what is on their hearts. For me, and I think for my son and others, this has been life-changing on many levels. 

    Many young men’s lives are being enriched because one dad paid attention to something that was important to his son. Opportunities to speak life into our community’s kids are everywhere, and often, the only requirement is a little bit of our time. 

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

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    Dads, Daughters and Valentine's Day

    Dad, don’t forget an important woman in your life on Valentine’s Day – your daughter.

    It’s never too early to establish a Valentine’s tradition to express your love to your daughter. A father’s love profoundly impacts a girl, and many believe that a woman takes her relationship with her father (good or bad) to the grave.

    The father/daughter relationship plays an integral role in a young girl's life. It can even give her the self-confidence to deal with challenging life issues. When fathers are not engaged, however, the opposite happens. Research shows the girls often struggle with abandonment issues, lack of self-esteem and feelings of unworthiness. They’re also especially vulnerable to predators.

    Many women who grow up without a father will float through life, looking for someone to fill that void. Girls who grow up with absent fathers are at greater risk for experiencing problems in school, abusing drugs and alcohol and participating in risky sexual behavior. In fact, adolescent girls without fathers are twice as likely to be involved in early sexual activity - and they're seven times more likely to get pregnant as a teen.

    However, having an active father reduces the risk of early puberty, risky sexual behavior and teen pregnancy. Additionally, strong father/daughter relationships impact a daughter’s ability to trust and relate to men in a healthy way. Daughters who have a healthy bond with their father tend to be more self-reliant and confident and less likely to develop eating disorders. They also tend to perform better in school.

    The father/daughter bond is even more important when the father and daughter live in different households.

    One woman recalls how special Valentine’s Day was for her as a child. She knew her father would give her a chocolate heart every year. When her father divorced her mother and left, the Valentine’s tradition ended and left her with only memories. Decades later, she still wonders why he quit giving her the Valentine heart.

    Keep in mind that little things can mean a lot to daughters. Even traditions such as weekly conversations, writing notes to each other or a daddy/daughter date can strengthen that special bond.

    It is important for girls without an active father to have a good, positive and strong male role model in their lives. Think about doing something special for these young girls. Perhaps you could include them in your own family or community activities.

    No matter what kind of father you are - traditional, long-distance, stepdad, grandfather, uncle or other father figure - your involvement impacts these young women. Reach out each Valentine’s Day and strengthen the bond you have with your girl.

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

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    Kids Need Their Daddy

    The pressures of fatherhood are great. On any given day, balancing work and family, finances and discipline usually rank at the top of the issue list. For years, our culture has told men that being a good provider equates to being a good dad. However, research is now sending a newsflash that it isn’t all about the money. Children need father presence in their lives.

    Many men want to be involved in their child's life, but "being involved" can mean different things to different people.

    Ask yourself the question, "Why do I father my children the way I do?"

    So many men are really trying to be great fathers, but it can be a struggle. Sometimes it's 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 to be more involved with their children because their own father wasn't involved enough. Unfortunately though, they find themselves hard-pressed because they don’t know what to do. They've 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.

    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:

    • Having a loving and nurturing father affected a child’s happiness, well-being, and social and academic success as much as having a loving and nurturing mother.
    • If either parent withdrew love, it was equally influential in predicting a child’s emotional instability, lack of self-esteem, depression, social withdrawal and level of aggression.
    • In some studies, father love was actually a better predictor than mother love for certain outcomes. This included delinquency and conduct problems, substance abuse, and overall mental health and well-being.

    It's important for men to learn how to balance providing for and nurturing their family, but many men don’t feel comfortable connecting with their children emotionally. As a result, they spend most of their waking hours away from home.

    If you want to make something amazing happen for your family, you can. 

    Spending all your time away from them actually defeats the purpose. In many instances, your being there is better than tons of things and busy plans.

    If you want to connect with your children more, these tips can help:

    • Ask your children thought-provoking questions. Then listen so you can hear what they are thinking.
    • Some of the best things in life are free. Walking outdoors, horseplay, tumbling on the floor, fishing, riding bikes and flying kites are totally free, great ways to connect. Many times children will not remember things you bought them, but they will remember things you have done with them.

    So what's the payoff for engaging with your kids?

    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, and exhibit empathy and pro-social behavior. They're also more likely to avoid high-risk behaviors such as drug use, truancy and criminal activity. 

    Even though 18 years may seem like an eternity, it's not. Children grow up really quickly, so maximize precious moments with them.

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

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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

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    A Dad's Letter to His Daughter

    One October, Kelly Flanagan’s friend texted him while walking down the makeup aisle to pick something up for his wife. The text said, “Expectations on this aisle are oppressive.”

    “That text was unsettling to me,” says Dr. Flanagan, husband, dad and clinical psychologist. “I think it was the combination of having a 4-year-old daughter, and a wife who is very conscious of the media’s influence on young women that made my radar go up. I knew I couldn’t remain silent.

    “In my practice I see far too many women, young and old, who believe their worth is wrapped up in the way they look. It is painful to observe what these kinds of messages do to a woman’s self-esteem.”

    So, Flanagan traveled to the makeup aisle and the messaging blew him away. The cosmetics industry uses really good words to sell products. Words like: Affordably Gorgeous, Infallible, Flawless Finish, Go Nude, Natural Beauty and Nearly Naked. Flanagan noticed that these words create an unattainable standard for women. Eventually, they inspired a letter to his daughter, which he wrote while sitting in the makeup aisle. The letter clearly resonated with people, as it went viral shortly after he posted it on his blog, Untangled.

    Here is an excerpt from the letter:

    Dear Little One,

    As I write this, I’m sitting in the makeup aisle of Target ... When you have a daughter, you start to realize she’s just as strong as everyone else in the house – a force to be reckoned with, a soul on fire with the same life and gifts and passions as any man. But sitting in this store aisle, you also begin to realize most people won’t see her that way. They’ll see her as a pretty face and a body to enjoy. And they’ll tell her she has to look a certain way to have any worth or influence…

    “I wrote the letter because I wanted her to know that her worth is not connected to what she does or the way she looks,” Flanagan says. “That kind of thinking is a formula for shame – the experience of believing you are not worthy enough or that success depends on what you do. I wanted my daughter to clearly understand that there was nothing she could do that would make her mom or dad love her more or less.”

    Research consistently shows that fathers do influence their daughters and how they view themselves.

    Father involvement in the life of a daughter will help prepare her to catch the lies that culture teaches about how to be confident and beautiful,” Flanagan says. “The unconditional, intentional love of a father teaches his daughter that true beauty is on the inside, in her heart. Knowing this from an early age will help overpower the messages she will receive out in the world.”

    ... Words do have power and maybe, just maybe, the words of a father can begin to compete with the words of the world.  Maybe a father’s words can deliver his daughter through this gauntlet of institutionalized shame and into a deep, unshakable sense of her own worthiness and beauty ... I pray that three words will remain more important to you ... Where are you the most beautiful? On the inside.

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