As we enter the month of June we generally prepare for graduations, summer vacation plans, and Father’s Day. Some of us will be fortunate enough to celebrate the day with our dads, while others of us, me included, will be fondly remembering times with our dads who are no longer with us. I miss my dad.
The purpose of this article is to discuss the importance of fathers in the lives of their children and to give pointers on how to be a good father. The information provided in this article comes from a manual created primarily for social workers by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families. The manual is entitled, “Child Abuse and Neglect User Manual. ‘The Importance of Fathers in the Healthy Development of Children.’”
One of the most important influences of fathers is indirect. The relationship a father has with the children’s mother is critical. A father with a good relationship with the mother is more likely to be involved with, and spend more time with, his children. In turn, the children are psychologically and emotionally healthier. Although the article discussed that children with involved fathers who are married to their mother tend to do the best, it did state that fathers who are not married to the mothers have a similar impact if their relationship with the mother is positive.
Involved fathers tend to produce children who perform better in school, have higher IQs, are better able to handle stresses and frustrations associated with schooling, have better verbal skills, better intellectual functioning, are 43% more likely than other children to earn mostly As, are more secure and more likely to explore their environment. Additionally, boys with involved fathers tend to have fewer behavior problems and girls tend to have stronger self-esteem.
Tips for fathers offered in the manual include:
1. Respect your children’s mother
2. Spend time with your children
3. Earn the right to be heard (don’t just be the disciplinarian, so your kids won’t cringe when their mother says, “Your father wants to talk with you.”)
4. Discipline with love
5. Be a role model
6. Be a teacher by teaching your children right from wrong and basic lessons of life
7. Eat together as a family
8. Read to your children
9. Show affection
10. Realize that a father’s job is never done, even after children are grown and ready to leave home. A more detailed discussion on these tips and the importance of them can be found at www.fatherhood.org/tenways.
Have a safe and happy Father’s Day!
Pamela Edwards-Swift, Esq., Certified Family Law Specialist