As gender-based roles continue to evolve within families, there is increasing evidence of the positive impact of fathers involvement in their children's development. According to research, paternal involvement yields a different and complimentary effect that is supportive of young children's mental and socio-emotional wellbeing.
Four major differing but complimentary ways fathers compliment their spouses caregiving roles and its impact on their children's development include:
Language development: the more words and language to which a child is exposed at an early age, the greater benefit for school readiness. Children exposed to language and vocabulary through both mothers and fathers benefit by the additive effect of both hearing more words and also more variety. Additionally, new research shows that fathers could possibly have greater impact on children’s language development than mothers; involved fathers asks more questions than mothers typically do which in turn helps their children use more words and develop better conversational skills.
Math & Reading: do you want to know about the new wonder IQ pill for great numerical and literacy skills well consolidated into the elementary school years? A lavish dose of tender loving care from Papa it is! According to research findings, the more time fathers spend in enriching, stimulating play with their child/ren—such as playing pretend or sharing stories—the better the child’s math and reading scores are at 10 and 11 years old
Risk taking and problem-solving behaviors: yes, you read that right🙂. Fathers don't play "safe" or lots of pretend play like mothers usually would. Fathers are more physical, engage in high energy activities such as "rough & tumble" games with their children. Depending on the personality type and energy drive of the father, these games sometimes involve fast changing rules during play that "force" the child to adapt quickly to the changes. These sort of high energy and fast paced play engagements are said to help children learn how to make decisions, take and how to stay focused when experiencing emotionally arousing states.
Positive role modelling in relationship: various long spanning researches provide evidence that, involved fathers through their modelling of relationships with their spouses are able to teach their teenage children how to function in a relationship, adopt health and wellbeing behaviors. They reduce the risk of such children developing behavioral problems, engaging in early sexual experiences , teenage pregnancies among girls and, better sexual health for adolescent boys.
So now we know how beneficial a double dose of tender loving care coming from both parents benefits their child/ren in the short and long term; socio-emotional, language, cognitive and in the promotion of healthy relationship with the opposite gender as children transition into adolescence and adulthood, how can fathers get involved?
Mothers have over the year shaped by culture and societal expectations to fulfill direct caregiving roles. For fathers who have not had practice in this regard and are interested in achieving the best outcomes for their children, here are a few ways you can be involved in your child's development:
WAYS FATHERS CAN BE INVOLVED
Be involved right from the start! Being involved and providing socio-emotional care for your spouse during pregnancy reduces risk factors associated with a stressful pregnancy and helps you bond with your unborn baby in ways that transit to when you finally get to hold them in your arms.
Reading to & with your child: your baby can hear and recognize familiar around them right from the 6th month in the womb and that includes your voice. Take time to cuddle with your pregnant spouse and read to your baby. It increases spousal bond and the possibility that you can continue with this cognitively enriching exercise when your baby is born and as they grow older. Reading to your child from an early age is the magical wonder of vocabulary development and reading readiness.
Performing caregiving tasks: bathing, feeding and playing with your child may feel strange when you start out if you do not come from a cultural background where this is encouraged among the male gender. With practice, it becomes more natural especially when you know that you are building a strong foundation for your child's social-emotional development.
Playing with and teaching your child: this is also about considerate, responsible parenting; your wife needs that occasional support and the opportunity to be the one lounging in the sitting room to let her hair down while you spend time doing some daddy duties. This not only benefits your children, it strengthens the marital relationship with your spouse, and also has long-term benefits for children; happy homes are safe havens for all children.
Are you an involved Dad and would like to share how it has benefitted your relationship with your child/ren and spouse? Kindly use the comments section below to share your experience.
Rollè, L., Gullotta, G., Trombetta, T., Curti, L., Gerino, E., Brustia, P., & Caldarera, A. M. (2019). Father Involvement and Cognitive Development in Early and Middle Childhood: A Systematic Review. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 2405. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02405
Lerner, C. (2016 Feb. 26) The Daddy Factor: The Crucial Impact of Fathers on Young Children's Development https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/341-the-daddy-factor-the-crucial-impact-of-fathers-on-young-children-s-development
The Child & Family Reserach Partnership (2017, June) 5 Things You Should Know about the Importance of Fathers https://childandfamilyresearch.utexas.edu/5-things-you-should-know-about-importance-fathers