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