A number of studies suggest that fathers who are involved, nurturing, and playful with their infants have children with higher IQs, as well as better linguistic and cognitive capacities. They are more patient and can handle the stresses and frustrations associated with schooling more readily than children with less involved fathers. Even from birth, children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confi dent to explore their surroundings, and, as they grow older, have better social connections with peers. These children also are less likely to get in trouble at home, school, or in the neighborhood. The way fathers play with their children also has an important impact on a child’s emotional and social development.
Roughhousing with dad, for example, can teach children how to deal with aggressive impulses and physical contact without losing control of their emotions.19 Generally speaking, fathers also tend to promote independence and an orientation to the outside world. As a result, children who grow up with involved fathers are more comfortable exploring the world around them and more likely to exhibit self-control and pro-social behavior. One study of school-aged children found that children with good relationships with their fathers were less likely to experience depression, to exhibit disruptive behavior, or to lie and were more likely to exhibit pro-social behavior. In short, fathers have a powerful and positive impact upon the development and health of children. A father in the home can be a strong protective factor for children.
Fathers who treat the mothers of their children with respect and deal with conflict within the relationship in an adult and appropriate manner are more likely to have boys who understand how they are to treat women and who are less likely to act in an aggressive fashion toward females. Girls with involved, respectful fathers see how they should expect men to treat them and are less likely to become involved in violent or unhealthy relationships. In contrast, research has shown that husbands who display anger, show contempt for, or who stonewall their wives (i.e., “the silent treatment”) are more likely to have children who are anxious, withdrawn, or antisocial. Fathers may not excel in all dimensions, but fathers who do well in most of them will serve their children and families well. By contrast, children who witness their father’s anger toward or contempt for their mother are more at risk for depression, aggression, and poor health. The stress of parental conflict can have a negative effect even on the immune system, which can result in health problems for children. Many men, especially those who grew up without a father, simply did not have role models for how men can and ought to relate to their spouse or partner in a positive fashion. Further, the way a man treats and interacts with the women in his life is frequently connected to how he views himself as a man. The time a father spends with his children is important for at least three reasons. First, spending time together enables a father to get to know and to be known by his child. A father can best discover his child’s virtues and vices, hopes and fears, and aspirations and ideals by spending lots of time with his child.
Generally speaking, the same characteristics that make a man a good father make him less likely to abuse or neglect his children. Research shows that there are certain characteristics of fathers that make them more likely to mistreat a child. Poverty, underemployment, or unemployment can increase a father’s stress level, which may make him more likely to abuse his children physically. Substance abuse also is strongly associated with higher rates of abuse and neglect among fathers and mothers. Additionally, fathers who were abused or who witnessed domestic violence between their parents are more likely to abuse their own children. Fathers with a low sense of self-worth are also more likely to abuse their children.Those experiencing psychological distress or low self-esteem may seek diversion from their problems or may abuse their children as a way to dominate and thus to derive a perverse sense of personal power. The virtues that a father displays in his relationship with the mother of his children set an important example for the children. Children who witness affectionate, respectful, and sacrificial behavior on the part of their father are more likely to treat their own, future spouses in a similar fashion.
Second, a father who spends lots of time with his child tends to be better at caring. Time spent together makes a father more sensitive to his child’s needs for love, attention, direction, and discipline. And third, as the quotation above illustrates, children often do see time as an indicator of a parent’s love for them. Another important function that fathers serve in the lives of their children is as guides to the world outside the home. As children begin school, fathers can tell their children of their own experiences in school and encourage them to study hard, teach them about money management, or teach them a sport that will help their children learn about teamwork. Fathers of adolescents should incorporate discussions of their core beliefs and life experiences into ordinary conversations with their teens and have meals with their children on a regular basis. Fathers should also include their children in some of their work or community activities so as to give their teenaged children a taste of their lives outside the home.
They also should talk to their children about peer pressure and the dangers of alcohol, drugs, early sexual activity, and violence. And fathers should take the lead in giving their adolescents a little more freedom as they grow older, so long as this freedom is coupled with the occasional word of encouragement and advice, along with consequences for abuses of that freedom.
In sum, fathers need to be preparing their children for the challenges and opportunities of adulthood by gradually giving them more opportunities to act independently and to make good use of their independence. Th e ability to provide and protect is still, today, very much tied up with the average man’s sense of self and sense of manhood. Research consistently shows that fathers who are employed full-time express more happiness with family life and have better relationships with their children, compared to fathers who are underemployed or unemployed.
For many men, feelings of inadequacy in the role of protector and provider can translate into frustration and anger, which may not be managed appropriately. Men who are under- or unemployed may feel powerless within the family. Child maltreatment can at times be a way of “getting even” with a partner whom the man sees as more powerful within the relationship. Furthermore, fathers who feel inadequate in their role as provider and protector may feel inadequate to step in and to help to prevent further maltreatment. Fathers also can protect their children by monitoring their social environment. Fathers also should pay close attention to the type of peers with whom their children are spending time. In the wake of child maltreatment, it is very important that the father examine what sort of role model he is presenting to his children. Children will look to the adults in the household for emotional sustenance, including how to respond and behave moving forward.
Being a role model is not a simple or easy task. In the way that fathers treat other people, spend their time and money, and handle the joys and stresses of life, they provide a template of living for their children that often proves critical in guiding the behavior of their children, for better or worse. As discussed earlier, a father’s treatment of the opposite sex, his ability to control his own emotions, and his approach to work all play a formative role in shaping his sons’ and daughters’ approach to romantic relationships and marriage, interpersonal relationships, and school and work.
Fathers should acknowledge their mistakes to their children. When appropriate, they should be willing to seek forgiveness from their children. A father who loses his temper while disciplining a child should apologize to the child. Many men view apologizing to their child as a sign of weakness that will cause the child to lose respect for the father. The opposite is true.
Apologizing shows a man is capable of acknowledging and facing up to a mistake, fixing the mistake to the extent possible, and committing to moving forward hardly a sign of weakness, much more so a sign of strength. Every father needs to understand how to discipline a child properly, not only because it can help ensure that a child is not maltreated but also because it is one of the most important tools for teaching children.
Discipline is not simply about punishment or correction of misbehavior. More broadly, discipline is also about teaching a child to exercise self-control and to obey legitimate authority. The keys to good discipline are: Set clear rules and enforce them.
Be consistent. Never give in to a tantrum.Keep anger out of discipline. Combine rules and limit setting with explanations. Fathers can learn strategies for controlling their anger, such as recognizing their own physical and emotional cues that suggest they are too angry to deal with a situation at that moment and learning to walk away from a situation until they have reached a calmer emotional state.
Sometimes a father’s anger may be grounded in very personal issues, such as his own experiences with his father when he was a boy. For starters, fathers (and mothers) must set clear and consistent limits. Rules serve two purposes. First, they help maintain household order, generally creating a home environment that allows each member to feel comfortable, respected, and safe. A chaotic family situation not only hinders healthy child development, it also makes for a stressful place to live. Second, rules help set the boundaries for children’s behavior so that they remain safe. Children do not have the judgment of adults—rules take the place of more mature judgment by clearly telling children this is what they can do and this is what they cannot do.
All children have the right to live in an environment free from abuse and neglect. Children need a family and a permanent place to call home. Fathers have a direct impact on the well-being of their children.
Source:"The Importance of Fathers in the Healthy Development of Children" by Jeffrey Rosenberg and W. Bradford Wilcox
By contrast, children who witness their father’s anger toward or contempt for their mother are more at risk for depression, aggression, and poor health. The stress of parental conflict can have a negative effect even on the immune system, which can result in health problems for children. Many men, especially those who grew up without a father, simply did not have role models for how men can and ought to relate to their spouse or partner in a positive fashion. Further, the way a man treats and interacts with the women in his life is frequently connected to how he views himself as a man. The time a father spends with his children is important for at least three reasons. First, spending time together enables a father to get to know and to be known by his child. A father can best discover his child’s virtues and vices, hopes and fears, and aspirations and ideals by spending lots of time with his child.