Recent research has shown that fathers matter much more in a child’s upbringing and development than history has thought. Even dating back as recently as the 1970s, society has taught that the mother is the caregiver and child raiser while the father brings home the paycheck. Of course, times are drastically different now. However, society still has not quite caught up with reality.
The Importance of Being Dad
According to researchers at Uppsala University, dads do matter. The researchers initially wanted to know if there was evidence to support more parental leave for fathers, as well as data to support the increased involvement of fathers in child rearing. Combining and analyzing data from twenty-four of the best studies on father involvement in child rearing and the outcomes, the researchers found a wide variety of beneficial social and psychological effects from a fathers’ direct engagement with their children. Engagement included fathers playing with their children, reading to them, taking them on outings, and helping to care for them. As a result, these children had fewer behavioral problems leading to a lessened likelihood of later criminal activity.
Other researchers have come to similar conclusions. Ross D. Parke of the University of California, Riverside, found that fathers play a central role in their children’s socialization. His 2004 study revealed that both fathers and mothers influence their children’s peer relationships. If one of these pieces is missing, a child may not be as socially adept or well adjusted. Parke also believes the way a father plays with his children is key to healthy child development. Fathers should not exert too much control over the way their children play, instead showing interest in their thoughts and suggestions. This helps build confidence and teaches them to think for themselves. Play with an active give-and-take, he suggests.
Divorce is not only the end of a marriage, but a change in your relationship with your children. While your feelings for your children will be unaltered, the amount of time you are able to spend with them may be. This issue is particularly pressing when a custody agreement cannot be reached. Making the decisions about where your children will live and how their expenses will be covered can be difficult with the added strain of the other divorce proceedings. If you have found yourself in a difficult custody situation, turn to the Men’s Legal Center for help. Men’s Legal Center will aid you in a custody plan and fight for your custody rights.