Fast Facts for Father’s Day (June 21, 2020): A fact sheet prepared by Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan, Ohio State University and Kari Adamsons, University of Connecticut for the Council on Contemporary Families
How Dads Make a Difference for Their Children
Mentally…Dads foster their children’s development by challenging them both cognitively and physically. Dads promote children’s communication skills by asking children questions and requiring them to clarify what they are saying. Dads encourage children to take age-appropriate risks and go outside their “comfort zone,” which can help children develop confidence and reduce anxiety. But don’t leave all the consoling and calming tasks to mom, says sociologist Barbara Risman. Men who take primary or equal responsibility for childcare are just as nurturing and sensitive as women, and great models for their children.
- Things to try: Read together with young children and engage them in back-and-forth conversation using wh-questions (i.e., Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?). For older kids, form a “book club” where you both read the same book and talk about it together. When on the playground, stand back and allow children to attempt new activities on their own first, without interfering, but provide safety and encouragement from the sidelines.
Emotionally…Dads who laugh with and praise their toddlers have kids who are less distressed in frustrating situations. When children experience anger and sadness, Dads’ support helps kids learn how to manage their emotions and have better relationships with friends. And when Dads show their teens love and acceptance, their teens have more positive outlooks and greater confidence and get better grades in school.
- Things to try: When your kids are upset, validate their feelings and help them brainstorm solutions or alternatives to the source of their frustration. For example, if your child gets upset that a favorite toy broke, tell them it’s okay to be sad and help them figure out how to fix it or suggest another fun activity they could do instead. Hug your kids often, and tell your kids that you love them as much as you can!
- Things to try: Kids are more likely to eat foods that they helped prepare, so involve your kids in making meals and snacks. Even preschoolers can help prepare food (for example, washing or mixing ingredients, brushing bread or potatoes with oil) and older kids can help with chopping and cooking. Take walks or hikes together, play tag or basketball.
Remotely…Dads don’t have to live with their children to make a difference: Non-resident fathers who are involved in child-related activities and maintain good relationships with their children have a positive influence on children’s social and academic outcomes.
- Things to try: When you can’t see your child in person, check in regularly via phone, video-chat, or texts. Ask open-ended questions that invite conversation (“What’s something that made you happy this week?”) rather than yes or no or vague questions. Some activities can be done “together” virtually, for example being on a video-chat with your child while both watching a favorite tv show.
Intergenerationally…What Dads do now not only affects their children, but their grandchildren as well. Dads who are more involved in parenting their kids raise sons who grow up to become more involved fathers and who have better quality relationships with their own children. In addition, Dads who coparent well with Moms have sons who later form supportive relationships with their own parenting partners.
Kari Adamsons, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Human Development and Family Sciences, University of Connecticut, email@example.com, (860) 486-8971.
LINKS AND ABOUT:
Fact sheet: https://contemporaryfamilies.org/fathers-day-fact-sheet/
The Council on Contemporary Families, based at the University of Texas-Austin, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of family researchers and practitioners that seeks to further a national understanding of how America’s families are changing and what is known about the strengths and weaknesses of different family forms and various family interventions.
The Council helps keep journalists informed of notable work on family-related issues via the CCF Network. To join the CCF Network, or for further media assistance, please contact Stephanie Coontz, Director of Research and Public Education, at firstname.lastname@example.org, cell 360-556-9223.
June 18, 2020
Topics: Childcare (Providers & Systems) / Children / Family Caregiving (for Adults, Children, and Disabilities) / Parenthood: Motherhood/Fatherhood