The Importance of DadsApril 13, 2017
Fathers can make a significant difference on child development
Here are some tips to help dads find their role in promoting their child’s development and health.
Quality, not quantity
- If your time is limited, be present with your child during the time you have. Avoid distractions (like your phone or work) and do a special activity together to make the most of precious time. Create a special routine (Sunday breakfast, trip to the bookstore) that your child will remember.
- Children with sensitive and involved fathers score higher on school age reading and math. Even dads who work or live away from their children can have a positive impact. Take time to help your children with homework or listen to them read, even if it is over the phone.
Recognize other contributions
- Financial and emotional support are also key contributions to a child’s well-being. Even if dad can’t physically be there, his income can ensure that children get access to medical care, food, stable living arrangements, books and education. A father’s emotional support toward a mother parenting alone or with limited involvement also improves children’s health by preventing/managing maternal depression, and providing encouragement to support positive parenting.
Compliment each other
- Co-parenting is done best when each parent focuses on their strengths and compliments the others’ weaknesses. For example, if one parent is great at arts and crafts, the other can focus on playing sports or reading. Doing activities that you enjoy makes it more likely that your children will enjoy spending that time with you. They learn from your passion and experience, and from exposure to things they don’t get with other caregivers.
Be honest about availability
- Children thrive on routines. Be honest about when you’ll be available – in person, by phone or by other means – and show up. Even if time is limited, it is most important that you set clear expectations and give children something they can depend on. Remember that a child’s relationship with his or her parents is laying the foundation for future relationships, and reliability is a critical piece.
Leave the drama behind
- In order for children to feel safe, they have to have confidence in all of their caregivers. Bringing up problems or issues about another parent or caregiver is not only unsettling to children, but can cause them to have anxieties and fears that compromise their health and well-being. Try not to talk about another caregiver negatively, fight or speak negatively in front of your children, or confide in your child about relationship issues. Build a support system of your own to express those feelings and try to keep all of your child’s homes, safe spaces.
- For younger children, care moments like diaper changing and bathing provide excellent opportunities for bonding, especially if you are not doing the feeding. Feel confident in the value of this special time together and make sure to prioritize it in the day whenever possible.
Find more information on Being the Best Dad You Can Be.