Articles for Fathers

Everything listed under: child well-being

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    20 Reasons Your Child Needs You

    A dad's presence is important. Here are 20 reasons why.

    1.  Lets your child know that you love him/her.

    2.  Provides your child with greater financial resources.

    3.  Gives your child a positive role model.

    4.  Provides your child with emotional support.

    5.  Enhances your child's self-esteem.

    6.  Provides your child with guidance and discipline.

    7.  Enhances your child's intellectual development.

    8.  Gives your child someone to rough and tumble play with.

    9.  Provides your child with someone to talk to when he/she has questions.

    10. Increases your child's chances for academic success.

    11. Provides your child with an alternative perspective on life.

    12. Lowers your child's chances for early sexual activity.

    13. Lowers your child's chances for school failure.

    14. Lowers your child's chances for youth suicide.

    15. Lowers your child's chances for juvenile delinquency.

    16. Lowers your child's chances for adult criminality.

    17. Provides your child with a sense of physical and emotional security.

    18. Facilitates your child's moral development.

    19. Promotes a healthy gender identity in your child.

    20. Helps your child learn important skills.

    From Reasons Why Your Child Needs You to be an Active Father by Stephen D. Green, Ph.D., Child Development Specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife

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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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    The Importance of Positive Male Role Models

    Many boys today don't know what it means to be a man because they don’t have a man in their lives. Sadly, children will go to bed tonight without saying goodnight to their father because he just isn’t there.

    Nearly one-fourth of America’s children live in mother-only families. Locally, 39 percent of Hamilton County families are headed by a single mother.

    Of the children living with their mothers, 35 percent never see their father. And, 24 percent see their fathers less than once a month.

    More than likely, a woman teaches them at school and at home. So, where do they see and interact with positive male role models? Or, how do the boys learn what it means to be a man? Television? Movies? On the street?

    Even in homes where the father is present, research shows that the average father spends less than 10 minutes a day one-on-one with his child. In our society, emotional and spiritual fatherlessness is becoming the norm. Many of today’s fathers did not have positive role models to show them how to be a father, so they are not there to show their children what it means to be a father.

    No matter how great a mother is, she cannot replace what a father provides to a child. Irrefutable research shows that mothers are typically nurturing, soft, gentle, comforting, protective and emotional. Fathers tend to encourage risk-taking and to be challenging, prodding, loud, playful and physical. Children need a balance of protection and reasonable risk-taking. If a positive male role model isn't around, there is a void in this child's life. Children without positive male role models are more likely to be involved in criminal activity, premarital sexual activity, do poorer in school and participate in unhealthy activities.

    Studies have shown that involvement of a father or a positive male role model has profound effects on children. Father-child interaction promotes a child’s physical well-being, perceptual ability and competency for relating with others. Furthermore, these children demonstrate greater ability to take initiative and evidence self-control.

    How can you make a positive difference for these children?

    • Encourage positive male role model involvement in your child's life if you're a mom.
    • If you're a non-custodial dad, make the effort to visit with your children more often. You can also be very intentional about teaching them important life lessons.
    • If you are an educator, encourage fathers to be more active in the classroom.
    • You can influence the lives of children in your community be being a positive male role model.
    • Faith-based institutions and programs can bring fathers together with their children. Additionally, they can encourage male role models to engage children in their sphere of influence.
    • Business leaders can encourage employee involvement in community efforts with children. For example, you can promote mentoring with organizations like Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Big Brothers-Big Sisters, youth groups, Boys Club or Girls, Inc.

    Every child needs someone who is absolutely crazy about them. Let's make sure they have that person.

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