Articles for Fathers

Everything listed under: involved

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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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    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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    Quantity vs. Quality Time with Dad

    On average, how much time do you spend with your children each week?

    How much time do your children think you spend with them?

    You've probably heard that quality time with your children, not the quantity, is what really matters. A study published in the Youth and Society Journal, however, questions that line of thinking.

    The study indicates that bullying behavior increases when children perceive that their dads are not spending enough time with them.

    Andre Christie-Mizell is a psychologist and associate professor of sociology at Vanderbilt University. He studied the behavior and perceptions of 687 children ages 10 to 14 and living in two-parent homes in 2000. Plus, he looked at their parents’ work hours.

    He asked:

    • What is the relationship between the number of hours parents work and adolescent bullying behavior? 

    • What is the relationship between bullying behavior and youths' perceptions of the amount of time their parents spend with them?

    Interestingly, he found that the child’s perception of how much time they spent with their fathers most impacted bullying behavior. This is exactly opposite of what expected to find. Since mothers usually spend the most time caring for children, Christie-Mizell thought the mother's time away would be the determining factor.

    “The findings about fathers and mothers are important because it turns what most of us think is conventional wisdom — that mothers have the most influence on children — on its ear. This research shows that while it’s equally important for kids to spend time with both parents, fathers need to make an extra effort,” Christie-Mizell says.

    He suggests setting up a schedule for parent-child interaction in order to guide children’s perceptions. For example, you could reserve Saturday mornings for daddy-daughter dates or father-son time.

    Christie-Mizell says the interaction has to be purposeful and scheduled. You can't just rely on those random, last-minute trips with Dad to the grocery store.

    “Children need to know they have this scheduled time. And it’s important for fathers to try to keep to the schedule as much as possible. If fathers have to miss, then it’s also important that they explain to the child why they have to miss their scheduled time and how what they are doing instead affects their family,” Christie-Mizell says.

    A University of Michigan-Ann Arbor study explored time with Dad, too. It found that American kids in two-parent, intact families spend an average of 2.5 hours a day with their fathers on weekdays and 6.2 on weekends. For about half that time, fathers are directly engaging with the kids - playing, eating, shopping, watching television with them or working together around the house. The rest of the time, dads are nearby and available if their kids need them.

    Children tend to do better in every area of life when dad is active in their lives. And believe it or not, dads are better off, too.

    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 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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    A Father's Love

    Jeff Harrell worked long hours in the restaurant business when his daughter was born. Alyssa was 3 months old when Harrell realized that she clearly had no interest in being with him.

    “That’s when I knew things had to change,” shares Harrell. “I did not want my child to grow up not knowing me. My wife and I decided that I would quit my job, although I didn’t have another job offer."

    While Harrell was stressed about leaving his job, he also felt a sense of relief because he believed better times were ahead. Fast forward more than 20 years, and daughters Alyssa and Emily will be the first to tell you that their relationship with their father is special.

    “I think one of the big things people love about coming to our house is hanging out with my dad,” Alyssa say. “More times than I can count, guys would come over, but they weren’t really here to see me or my sister. They were looking for my dad. He is a smart person and they can talk with him. He doesn’t tell them that their mistakes are ok and he encourages them to do better. Although he isn’t their bud, they open up to him and he doesn’t judge them.”

    Alyssa and Emily have a special bond with their dad, but that doesn’t mean they always agree with his rules.

    “My curfew was earlier than all our friends,” Emily says. “After dances, I had to come home instead of staying out with my friends. At the time that really irritated me because it seemed like I was the only one that had all these rules. Now I’m grateful.”

    Their dad instilled in them that the Lord wanted them to live a meaningful and impactful life. He also taught them the importance of staying away from compromising situations.

    “Both of our parents gave us boundaries,” Alyssa says. “I know that was a good thing. We have friends who are jealous of our relationship with our dad.”

    Harrell has no regrets about making career moves to be home with his girls. While some dads work hard and think they have earned the right to play golf on Saturday, Harrell believes he has earned the right to raise his children and that should be his main focus.

    “I have one shot to get this right,” Harrell says. “You don’t get to check certain boxes about what you will and won’t do as a dad. All the boxes are already checked. I signed up for the good, the bad and the ugly.”

    Here are a few things Harrell suggests to fellow dads:

    • Keep in mind your kids can either get wisdom and knowledge from you or they can get it from someone else.

    • They can either spend time with you or someone else.

    • Children can learn from suffering the consequences or seek wisdom instead.

    • Dolls, tea parties, race cars, concerts and Muppet theater are all great ways to spend your time.

    • If the relationship isn’t there before your kids leave home, it won’t be there after they leave.

    “You may think your kids don’t really need you, but that’s not true,” Harrell says. "Being 100 percent involved may cost you monetarily now, but in the end it pays off in dividends you can’t buy.”

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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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    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