Articles for Fathers

Everything listed under: impact

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    How Kids Benefit from Involved Fathers

    Ask any child: Nothing compares to a father’s love. 

    Out of 20,000 essays by school-age kids about what their father meant to them, there was a common theme. Whether their father lived in the home or not, they all wanted time with their father.

    The CDC released findings from a nationally representative sample of 3,928 fathers aged 15 to 44 about their parental involvement. It looked at four specific areas of involvement that have been linked to positive outcomes for children: eating meals with their children, bathing, diapering or dressing the children, playing with and reading to their children.

    The findings indicate that 1 in 6 fathers does not live with his children. Also, non-residential fathers are less likely to spend regular time with their children. This is disturbing when you consider that father involvement has been proven to positively affect child’s well-being in many areas, including: increasing chances of academic success and reducing chances of delinquency and substance abuse.

    Furthermore, children whose fathers assumed 40 percent or more of the family’s care tasks achieved better academically than children whose fathers were less involved.

    For children under age 5:

    • 96 percent of residential fathers ate meals with their children every day or several times a week compared to 30 percent of non-residential fathers;
    • 98 percent played with children (39 percent for fathers not living with their children);
    • 90 percent bathed, diapered or dressed their children every day or several times a week (31 percent for non-residential fathers); and
    • 60 percent read to their children often, compared to 23 percent of fathers not living in the home.

    The differences in involvement were also evident for school-age children.

    Fathers who lived with their children were twice as likely as nonresidential fathers to think they were doing a very good job in their role.

    Studies show that children can thrive without their father, BUT life is much more complicated and the chance that children will struggle is significantly greater.

    The last two decades have produced significant research indicating that fathers play a very important role in their kids' lives. Children who live apart from their biological fathers are, on average, at least two to three times more likely to:

    • Be poor,
    • Use drugs,
    • Experience educational, health, emotional and behavioral problems,
    • Be victims of child abuse, and
    • Engage in criminal behavior more than their peers who live with their married, biological (or adoptive) parents.

    Research also 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.

    Whether you live in the home with your child or not, don’t deceive yourself about your impact on their lives. The father-child relationship is a gift.

    What would happen if you intentionally tried to build this relationship? Would fewer children live in poverty? Would unwed pregnancies decrease? Might there be less involvement in gangs, criminal behavior, risky sexual behavior or drugs and alcohol?

    Your children are worth the investment of time and energy. Be more engaged with your children today.

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    Fathers: What Research Says

    Dad, being involved matters. Here are just a few reasons why.

    Teenage girls who are close to their fathers are far less likely to become sexually active.

    Teenage girls are twice as likely to stay in school if their fathers are involved in their lives.

    “Fathers dramatically underestimate the importance of themselves in their daughters’ lives. They withdraw much too quickly, doubt their significance and influence, and grossly misunderstand how very much their daughters need and want to have a good relationship with them.” - Dr. Meg Meeker, author of Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters

    "Fathers are far more than just 'second adults' in the home. Involved fathers bring positive benefits to their children that no other person is as likely to bring. Fathers have a direct impact on the wellbeing of their children." - noted sociologist Dr. David Popenoe

    Even from birth, children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident to explore their surroundings, and, as they grow older, have better social connections with peers. These children also are less likely to get in trouble at home, school or in the neighborhood. --Yeung, W. J., Duncan, G. J., & Hill, M. S. (2000). Putting Fathers Back in the Picture: Parental Activities and Children's Adult Outcomes.

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    Being an Involved Single Father

    Jeff* celebrated his first Father’s Day when his daughter was 9-months-old, and he is thankful for that day with her. Jeff is a single father who shares custody of his daughter with his ex.

    “Our relationship ended shortly before our child was born,” says Jeff. “Things were crazy. I am an industrial engineer and teach people how to build cars for a living. I knew nothing about going to court and all that would be involved with being able to see my child.”

    Since he wanted to be an active father even before his child was born, Jeff took a class for new fathers through First Things First, along with other classes.

    “In spite of the circumstances, I did not want to be an absent father,” Jeff says. “My ex was very nervous about me taking care of our child by myself. There was a lot of tension in our relationship. Through a series of events, I ended up in the Dads Making a Difference class. That was a real game-changer.”

    In addition to learning communication and conflict management skills, Jeff found out more about the importance of a father’s involvement with his child. Plus, he learned what it meant to protect and serve both his child and her mother.

    “From the time I began the class to now, the transformation in the relationship between me and my ex has been amazing,” Jeff says. “A personality inventory we took in class helped me to understand her better, which led me to handle situations differently. The response surprised me. We have moved away from supervised visitation. In addition to getting more visitation time with my daughter, she spends every other weekend with me and that is pure joy.”

    In Jeff's opinion, being a first-time father and learning about caring for a baby has been a steep learning curve, but worth every minute.

    “I love spending time with my daughter,” Jeff says. “I want to nurture her in a way that will allow her to thrive. Being an engineer, I love math and science but I also love art and music. I sing to her a lot and enjoy playing with her, and watching her develop her motor skills. I can’t wait for her to walk.”

    Believe it or not, Jeff is an exception to the rule.

    In 2014, 17.4 million children in the U.S. were growing up in a home without their biological father. Moreover, data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing survey indicates that a third of non-residential fathers had no contact with their child five years after birth. Jeff has no intention of becoming a part of this statistic.

    Through various circumstances, including divorce and unwed births, there are many men who are missing out on the gift of a relationship with their child. While it can be complicated, unnerving and extremely challenging, don’t underestimate a child's need for a healthy father's involvement. Literally thousands of credible studies show that children need mom and dad engaged in their lives.

    So, if you're actively involved with your children, consider yourself blessed. On the flip side, if you are estranged from your children, remember that you can still make a change regarding that relationship.

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

    *Name changed.


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    7 Tips for Dads of Daughters

    Joe Kelly knew his life would change when his twin daughters were born. He understood that he was stepping into a very important role as their father. What he didn't count on was the dramatic impact these girls would have on him as a man and their father.

    “The uniqueness of the father-daughter relationship can deeply enrich a man’s life,” says Kelly, first and foremost the father of twin daughters, and head of the national non-profit organization Dads and Daughters. He also wrote Dads and Daughters: How to Inspire, Understand, and Support Your Daughter When She is Growing Up So Fast.

    “Every single one of us grew up a boy. Sometimes that is a hurdle and sometimes it is an advantage. All of the time, it is a chance to grow in unique ways. Through our daughters, we can start to see and experience the world differently.”

    When his daughters were older teenagers, Kelly began reflecting on how much having daughters changed his life. He was curious to know if any other men shared this experience, so he interviewed a diverse group of men. He was actually surprised by how much they had in common.

    Kelly recognized that he had to be very aware of how he lived his life. He began thinking about the messages he was sending verbally and his actions.

    “You can tell your daughter she can be anything she wants to be,” Kelly says. “But if you then turn around and pick up a Playboy you may as well have saved your breath because your actions speak louder than your words. It is how I treat my daughter’s mother and the other women in her life and in the world that send a powerful message to my daughter and my son.

    "If a boy grows up believing that the size of a woman’s cleavage is more important than the size of her heart, he's on the road to disaster. As a man and father, I can help my daughters understand that it is not about looks; it is about what you are capable of accomplishing in life.”

    Research has shown that girls with involved fathers are more likely to be emotionally and physically healthier and more well-rounded. Dads and Daughters suggests these tips for fathers to inspire, understand and support their daughters:

    • Listen to girls. Focus on what is really important – what does your daughter think, believe, feel, dream and do- rather than how she looks.

    • Encourage her strength and celebrate her savvy. Help your daughter learn to recognize, resist and overcome barriers. Help her develop her strengths to achieve her goals.

    • Respect her uniqueness. Urge her to love her body and discourage dieting. Make sure your daughter knows that you love her for who she is. See her as a whole person capable of doing anything. Treat her and those she loves with respect.

    • Get physically active with her. Play catch, tag, jump rope, basketball or just take walks. Studies show that physically active girls have fathers who are active with them.

    • Involve yourself in your daughter's activities. Volunteer to drive, coach or teach.

    • Talk to other fathers. Together, fathers have reams of experience. There is a lot to learn from each other.

    • Help make the world better for girls. This world holds dangers for our daughters, but your overprotection doesn't work. In fact, it tells your daughter that you don't trust her! Instead, work with other parents to demand an end to violence against females, media sexualization of girls and pornography. Work to stop advertisers from making billions by feeding on our women's insecurities, in addition to all "boys are more important than girls" attitudes.

    According to Kelly, the greatest gifts a father can give his daughter are talking with her, listening to her and trusting her.

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

    If you are curious to know how well you are doing as your daughter’s father, you might want to take the quiz on Kelly's website, dadsanddaughters.org.

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    The Value of Father-Daughter Relationships

    Beth, a 26-year-old church secretary was in a particularly good mood. She was actually glowing when a friend asked if her boyfriend had proposed to her.

    "Her response took me by surprise,” says Ken Canfield, author of Seven Secrets of Effective Fathers and The Heart of a Father. "She told me her father initiated a phone call to her for the first time in a very long time. I noticed she had flowers on her desk and I asked who sent her flowers.

    "With a huge smile, she told me her dad sent them to her for her birthday. Beth’s response to her father’s attention made me realize something. Even grown women hunger for love, attention and affirmation from their father.”

    Research from Canterbury and Vanderbilt Universities shows that from birth on, a father's activity and presence uniquely benefits their daughters.

    “Many men operate off of the premise that if they were uninvolved in their daughter’s life as she was growing up, it is too late to make a difference,” Canfield says. “Thinking that the die is cast or the deal is done because our children are grown is something we must re-examine. It simply is not true. In a parallel vein, research shows the devastating impact of divorce affects adult children deeply. Contrastingly, the continued investment in your child’s life even when they are parents of your grandchildren will reap tremendous benefits for you and them.”

    Studies reveal that men tend to spend more time with their sons than they do with their daughters. In fact, fathers tend to back away from their daughters during the pre-adolescence and adolescence. However, a girl's need for attention and affection during that time period is even more important.

    “When a father abandons a relationship with his daughter, she can become frozen in time relationally with the opposite sex,” Canfield says. “A 50-year-old woman may look like an adult, but on the inside she is still working on issues that should have been attended to by a healthy, engaged father.”

    Based on research, we know a few more things about these relationships. Without a healthy relationship with their father, girls will find other ways to contribute to their development when it comes to relating to men.

    “When you are frozen relationally, it is difficult to know your place and how to develop a healthy relationship. It's because you are working from a point of need instead of working out of a position of co-equal,” Canfield says. “There is a void in her life. The search to fill that void prompts her to take risks in relationships, which usually result in some really poor choices.”

    According to Canfield, limitless healing and restoration can take place in father-daughter relationships. Here are Canfield's tips:

    • Initiate communication with your adult daughter. Affirm her for the positive contributions she has made to your life or in the lives of others.

    • Consider asking for forgiveness. The three toughest things for fathers to say are: “I was wrong, I am sorry, and will you forgive me?” Use these to deepen your relationship with your daughter.

    • Ask your daughter for three ways you can support her in the coming year.

    • Ask your child’s mother (who is an adult daughter) to describe how her father influenced her most significantly.

    • Affirm your daughter’s femininity by being sensitive to her emotional highs and lows.

    Cultivate an atmosphere of “no-strings-attached” love in your home. Be ready to listen to and support your children in every challenge.

    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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    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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    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