The importance of dads involvement in a baby’s life

Following on from International Mens Day, we wanted to talk about how important it is for babies and children to have their father in their lives. Hundreds of research studies carried out over decades have shown what should actually be blatantly obvious – the more involved a dad is, the more successful his children will be. A fathers influence has been shown to affect a child’s social life, school grades, attitude and even future achievements. Now this is not to say that children brought up by their mother alone  are all set to fail in life as there are many successful people that have come from one parent households. This is merely emphasising the importance  of dads.

Research

According to the Father Involvement Research Alliance review, girls with involved fathers have higher self-esteem, and teenage girls who are close to their dads are less likely to become pregnant. Boys show less aggression, less impulsivity, and more self-direction. As young adults, children of involved fathers are more likely to achieve higher levels of education, find success in their careers, have higher levels of self-acceptance and experience psychological well-being. Adults who had involved fathers are more likely to be tolerant and understanding, have supportive social networks made up of close friends, and have long-term successful marriages.

Starting young

Some studies have shown that fathers can have an effect on their offspring from as early as birth. A review of studies by the Father Involvement Research alliance in Canada shows that babies who have their fathers actively participating in their lives are more likely to be emotionally secure, confident in new situations and more eager to explore their surroundings. It also showed that toddlers with involved fathers have in general higher IQ’s by age 3 and are better at solving problems. Other studies have shown that children with involved fathers are less likely to have behaviour problems at school and less likely to experience depression. They also suggest that girls with involved fathers have higher self-esteem, and teenage girls who are close to their dads are less likely to become pregnant. Boys show less aggression, less impulsivity, and more self-direction. As young adults, children of involved fathers are more likely to achieve higher levels of education, find success in their careers, have higher levels of self-acceptance and experience psychological well-being. Adults who had involved fathers are more likely to be tolerant and understanding, have supportive social networks made up of close friends, and have long-term successful marriages.

So what are the influencing factors?

There are a number of ways in which a fathers interaction differs from a mothers. The first being through play. A survey of 390 parents on this subject concluded that whereas mothers play interactions with their children are usually calmer in nature, fathers tend to be much more physical and thrill seeking. This incites excitement and unpredictability.

Through this kind of rough play with dad, children learn how to control their feelings and behaviour including knowing when to stop. Children can be taught how to deal with aggressive impulses and physical contact without losing control of their emotions. Mothers in general tend to worry about their childrens safety and wellbeing whereas dads often encourage their children to take risks and do things by themselves. Studies and surveys have shown that dads are more likely than mothers to encourage their children to jump in the deep end during a swimming lesson for example, overcome obstacles, go to the checkout for the first time by themselves to pay for something and  attempt to fix their bike without assistance.

Protecting

Perhaps it’s their size, strength, or inclination to protect, but fathers appear to be better at keeping predators and bad influences from harming their children. Psychologist Rob Palkovitz said ,”Paternal absence has been cited by multiple scholars as the single greatest risk factor in teen pregnancy for girls.” When fathers are more involved, they can better monitor what’s going on in their children’s lives, including interaction with peers and adults.

Discipline

Although mothers in general discipline more often, fathers usually do it with a firmer hand, not in the physical sense. Fathers tend to be more willing than mothers to confront their children and enforce discipline, leaving their children with the impression that they in fact have more authority. Mothers, on the other hand, will often try to reason with their children and rely on kids’ emotional attachment to them to influence their behaviour.

In an ideal situation both parents would raise a baby together but if that doesn’t go to plan, the best thing a man can do for his child is to be in their life by some means, even if it is on a part time basis. A child who knows they are loved and protected by their father as well as their mother will benefit profusely.