Is dad playing an active role in your child’s life? Learn about the father’s role in teaching kids about healthy relationships here.
What can you read in this article?
- The role of a father in our life
- Importance of a father in child development
- Daddy abandonment issues and father issues in daughters
While moms usually play the biggest role in taking care of a child, no one can argue that dads are very important too. They are not solely there as a provider or protector of the family. Fathers play a crucial role in child development and a child can benefit so much by having a close personal relationship with her father.
The role of a father in our life
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According to the website Zero to Three, there are several ways that fathers positively impact their children’s long-term development.
- As early as the prenatal period, fathers already have a huge impact on their children’s lives. According to research, when a father is involved during the pregnancy, the mother experiences less stress and has better prenatal care, which is great for the baby in her womb. Moreover, he is more likely to be involved in parenting later on, such as caring for his newborn, reading to his child at bedtime, and offering emotional support.
- Babies who have fathers who are affectionate and quickly respond to their cries and other cues, and engage in loving play, are more emotionally secure. Studies revealed that secure attachments have positive benefits that last into adulthood. Kids who have secure attachments tend to do better in their academics, are more sociable and well-liked throughout early childhood compared to children who do not have the same secure attachments.
Children whose dads are more involved in caregiving tasks such as feeding, bathing, and playing together, tend to be more confident and enjoy stronger social connections with their peers.
- And because these fathers are actively involved in their children’s lives, they also experience less conflict with their wives and have stronger marital relationships, which have long-term benefits for children.
- Dad who constantly care for, nurture, and play with their babies raise children with a higher IQ, language, and cognitive skills. Research revealed that dads who are involved in their children’s lives and communicate with them regularly are also responsible for building their children’s vocabulary. In fact, new research shows that fathers may have an even greater impact on children’s language development than mothers. Because when fathers use more words with their children during play, they tend to have more advanced language skills the following year. This is especially important because language skills are correlated with academic success.
- Moreover, the more time dads spend in enriching, stimulating play with their child—such as playing pretend or sharing stories—the better the child’s math and reading scores are at 10 and 11 years old.
- Does dad engage in rough and tumble play with the kids? Research shows that it contributes to risk-taking and problem-solving behavior which can be important for a child to acquire. At the same time, it also encourages kids to learn about decision-making and resilience.
Now that we have learned about the importance of a father in child development, let us now learn the father’s role in teaching kids about healthy relationships.
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Fathers and their relationships with their kids
According to Dr. Craig Garfield, professor of Pediatrics and Medical Social Sciences, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois, fathers can influence their children during early childhood years and into adolescence by role-modeling behavior.
“They are role modeling how to be in a relationship, how to make health and well-being behavior decisions, and that can be important for the child as well,” he said.
In fact, some additional benefits of father involvement for adolescent girls are decreased early sexual experiences and teenaged pregnancy, while for boys, the potential for improvement in sexual health through better communication.
Daddy abandonment issues
A father’s role in teaching his kids about healthy relationships is very important. And the absence of a father’s presence in a child’s life may have serious repercussions in the future.
For example, growing up without a father or having an uninvolved one can lead to having daddy abandonment issues. It’s a scenario when a parent or caregiver does not provide the child with consistent warm or attentive interactions, leaving them feeling chronic stress and fear. It’s been said that early childhood experiences are the biggest contributor to developing abandonment issues when you become an adult.
Children with daddy abandonment issues may become very eager to please others or need constant reassurance that they are loved. They also tend to have anxiety and low self-esteem because they feel that they “are not enough.”
Father issues in daughters
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According to website We Have Kids, “Fatherless Daughter Syndrome,” or more commonly referred to as having “daddy issues” is an emotional disorder in women that stems from issues with trust and lack of self-esteem. It usually leads to a cycle of repeated dysfunctional decisions in relationships with men.
“Fathers provide their daughters with a masculine example. They teach their children about respect and boundaries and help put daughters at ease with other men throughout their lives.
So if she didn’t grow up with a proper example, she will have less insight and she’ll be more likely to go for a man that will replicate the abandonment of her father,” said Caitlin Marvaso, AMFT, a grief counselor and therapist in Oakland, CA
Their article highlights the different possible ways that growing up without a dad (physically or emotionally) can affect women:
- Fatherless daughters have self-esteem issues
- They struggle to build and maintain relationships
- They are more likely to have eating disorders
- Daughters of absent fathers are more likely to have depression
- They are more likely to be sexually active at an early age
- They are more susceptible to addiction
According to the book The Fatherless Daughter Project: Understanding Our Losses and Reclaiming Our Lives, compared to daughters who had healthy paternal relationships, fatherless women report...
- feeling less happy and lower levels of well-being,
- higher levels of frustration, anger, and anger-related depression,
- having difficulty navigating the emotions in intimate relationships, and
- having overwhelming fears of abandonment.
No one wants these things mentioned above looming over their children. This is why fathers should be present and play an active role in their children’s lives as much as they can.
Teaching kids about healthy relationships: 5 tips for fathers
Dads, here are 5 tips that can help you model a healthy relationship with your children. This way, they’ll know how to treat their partners well in their future relationships, and will also know how they should be treated.
1. Love their mother
“The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” — Rev.Theodore Hesburgh
It makes a world of a difference when your children can sense that you and your partner love and respect one another. Even if you and your partner are no longer together, treating each other with a respect is still key.
Having meaningful conversations with your children teaches them how to communicate properly with adults. And chances are, if you and your partner communicate effectively, your children will pick up on that.
3. Dealing with conflict
Your children need to learn from your example about the proper way to handle disagreements and conflict. To read more about having healthy arguments in front of your kids, read: 5 Surprising reasons why it’s okay to fight in front of your kids.
4. Thinking the best of others
By teaching your kids to give others the benefit of the doubt and try to see situations from other people’s perspectives. This also teaches them compassion and cooperation.
5. Willingness to improve
Relationships are about compromise and growth. Instead of focusing on being right and “winning” every argument, we should, instead, strive to be better.
Additional information by Camille Eusebio
Zero to Three, WebMD, We Have Kids