As we approach Father’s Day, it’s important to consider what impact a healthy father-child relationship makes and to find practical ways to encourage that kind of relationship.
The research is clear: fathers play an important and irreplaceable role in their children’s lives. Yes, dad — YOU MATTER!
The Fatherhood Project is a non-profit organization that seeks to empower fathers to engage with their kids and thus improve the overall health of children and families. Their research found that, regardless of family structure or orientation, fathers were vital in key areas including support of the mother, providing a stable “second other” for child support and attachment, introducing children to play including unpredictable and exciting activities, encouraging both secure attachment and a sense of individualism, developing gender identity and improving social competence.
The project also found that fatherhood changes men in positive ways. Upon becoming fathers, men trend toward reorienting their values and behavior, which leads to improved adulthood development.
The National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse also notes the positive impacts for involved fathers on children. These kids do better in school, from improved verbal skills in preschool to higher academic performance in older kids. They also practice healthier behaviors, with better school attendance and an increased likelihood to finish school and earn a diploma.
But in order to have a positive impact on their family, men need to incorporate healthy and impactful ways to engage with their children.
At Life’s Choices, we meet with a number of dads each week. Some attend prenatal or parenting classes with their wife or partner. Others are single dads wanting to build parenting skills. We are happy to offer a variety of classes geared just toward dads (see side bar Dad Classes at Life’s Choices) and typically suggest dads start our “Being a Father” series, which includes topics like spending intentional time with kids, being a positive role model, structuring a consistent homelife, and building positive, practical discipline policies.
The series, offered through the Bright Course streaming platform, notes that first, a father must examine his own family or origin to determine how he was fathered and how he can build upon his experiences, both negative and positive. Dads are encouraged to explore their parenting style and think about things like responsiveness (giving affection and praise) and demandingness (communicating expectations and discipline).
To be a good father requires objectively looking at your own life and making intentional if difficult changes. “We are going to ask you to make changes in your life,” the series’ host states, “to choose your children’s interests over your own.”
THIS SUMMER: DOCTOR DAD WORKSHOPS
We are also excited to announce Life’s Choices will host a series of parenting workshops this summer just for dads, titled Doctor Dad. These classes will be free of charge, open to the general public, and designed specifically for dads. In addition to learning or reviewing practical skills in handling injuries, safety and health, dads who participate will network with other fathers in their community.
To make it more fun, we will provide dad-friendly snacks as well as drawings for prize baskets with dad in mind (grill stuff, anyone?). If you are interested in more information on this summer’s Doctor Dad workshops, send an email to Kolleen.LifesChoices@gmail.com or text 484.660.3526. Once dates and other details are set, we will be sure to let you know.
KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK, DADS!
Men, you do make a difference in your children’s lives. Make sure to be intentional in spending time with them, informed about ways to keep them safe, and insightful in how you structure discipline in your home. And always inspire them to dream big!
Hopefully, you have positive dad experiences from your own childhood to draw upon. But if not, take heart. God promises to be a loving and faithful father to us and is the best example to all dads striving to make a difference. Just read what God said to David in the Bible:
“I [the Lord] will be a father to him, and he’ll be a son to me. When he does wrong, I’ll discipline him in the usual ways, the pitfalls and obstacles of this mortal life. But I’ll never remove my gracious love from him.” -2 Samuel 7:14-15
For more information about our fatherhood-specific classes and resource, contact Life’s Choices today!