As we approach Father’s Day, I would like to take a moment to recognize the powerful role fathers play in the lives of their children. I believe the role of a father is too often undervalued in our society. The truth of the matter is that fathers have a significant impact in the their children's social, emotional, academic, spiritual and relational development.
As I reflect on my life growing up, I can’t help but feel truly blessed to have had such an amazing father in my life. He was a constant provider for our family and an extremely hard worker. Though my mother was more present in our day to day lives, I have fond memories of the role my father played. He taught me the power of a strong work ethic, how to be true to myself, the power of consistency and action, and how to ride a bike. My dad took me on vacations, called me while he was on trips for work, and either showed up to my sports games to cheer me on or asked me how they went afterwards. I never knew how valuable this time and relationship was until I had kids of my own, and have seen first-hand the power and influence my husband has in the lives of our children.
Studies have shown that the quality of a father's relationship with his children plays a vital role in the success they will experience throughout life. When fathers are affectionate, caring, and supportive of their children they will typically have better cognitive development, get along better with others and learn to regulate themselves emotionally.
Children who have a positive, close relationship with their father are also more likely to achieve greater academic success, attend college and establish a more satisfying career.
Children raised by engaged fathers are more likely to demonstrate greater self-control and therefore experience fewer discipline problems during adolescence. They are also more likely to possess a higher self-esteem and report more satisfying friendships and marriages.
So, dads, here are 3 ways you can continue to build positive, healthy relationships with your children:
Take time to include your children in activities you are most interested and pay close attention to the things they enjoy most. It is important to give your children opportunities to cultivate a love for outdoor activities, animals, building things, reading, team and individual sports, dancing or any number of other healthy activities.
Each child has their own unique interests and skills. Carve out time each week to spend quality time with one child at a time. This could involve going for a walk, taking a drive, throwing the football around, or taking them out to a special event. That quality one on one time will help to reinforce that they are important and that your relationship with them is a priority.
Set time aside each day to listen to your kids. Take time to hear their stories, laugh at their jokes, or hear about the ups and downs of their day. Give them space to share and express their feelings. Allow them to acknowledge sadness, hurt, pain, anger, happiness, joy, or gratitude, and better yet, model the expression of those emotions for them. Giving children this space will reinforce that it is safe and important to share how they are feeling and it will also help them feel better understood and validated.
I want to personally thank all the wonderful fathers out there who show up for their children daily. You are doing an amazing job, and the investment of your time, attention and love will pay life-long dividends!
Live, Work and Relate Well!
Kristen Linaman-Weleba, M.S.