Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Fathers Day - and why Dads are critical to your child's life!

Happy Fathers Day to all the dads out there!  Fathers don't usually get the credit they are deserved of - so we have a number of reasons that Fathers are so important to your child'd development.

From The Huffington Post
8 Science-Backed Reasons Why Dads Deserve More Credit
Playtime is important, and dads have it covered.Studies have consistently found that the most common way for fathers to interact with their children is in the context of play. Mothers, on the other hand, tend to take on more of the planning and organization that go into caregiving.
The way dads interact with children encourages them to take risks.Play has been shown to help teach children how to control their bodies as well as their emotions, encouraging them to take risks and be more ambitious in the long term. Even the way fathers hold their children makes a difference. Melanie Horn Mallers, an associate professor at California State University, Fullerton, told The Huffington Post that dads tend to hold their kids out to the world, while mothers tend to hold their children in, facing them. This subtle difference is actually a way in which fathers encourage their kids to take risks, Mallers said, which can benefit them later on in life in terms of their ability to engage with their environment, feel confident, solve problems and cope with stress.
According to Mallers, mothers are more likely to give their children a sense that they are safe and protected from the world. While dads may also convey this sense, they are far more likely to communicate that, as Mallers puts it, "Yes, the world is safe, so now go and explore it."
dad holding kid
Playtime with dads can actually help kids form strong relationships later in life.The bond between father and child can influence the child's ability to form close relationships with other people later in life. A study published in 2002 found that "adolescents' attachment representations were predicted by fathers' play sensitivity," meaning a father's ability to know when to challenge a child and when to back off during playtime. Essentially, this rough-and-tumble play is quality time between a father and child, and it shouldn't be undervalued.
A father's rejection could hurt a child even more than a mother's rejection.Ronald Rohner has been studying father-child relationships since the 1960s. "Like most Americans, I started out 50 years ago thinking, 'OK, sure, fathers are there and they're important in some ways, but the really important one is Mom,'" Rohner, executive director of the Ronald and Nancy Rohner Center for the Study of Interpersonal Acceptance and Rejection, told The Huffington Post.
In the course of his research, Rohner made the startling discovery that a father's love often contributes to a child's personality development more than that of a mother. Specifically, a father's rejection can cause a child to develop behavioral problems, and the resulting feelings of insecurity, anxiety and hostility can lead, eventually, to drug or alcohol abuse or addiction. Rejection by a father can also hinder a child's long-term ability to form trusting relationships.
Rohner notes that there are always exceptions, and that in some of the cases he looked at, the influence of both parents was about equal, or a mother's love was the factor more indicative of a child's development. But the overwhelming trend he found was that dads tend to wield the most influence when it comes to rejection.
Bad father-child relationships can make children more stressed in the long run.Rohner isn't the only one who's found that a father's perceived love (or lack thereof) packs a developmental punch. In a 2012 study of 912 men and women, Mallers found that sons who reported good relationships with their fathers were better at handling stress than sons who didn't perceive their childhood relationship with their father to be strong. Mallers says this also ties back to playtime with fathers, which helps children develop problem-solving skills and keep calm when difficulties arise.
Basically, time spent with fathers matters.Though different studies have reached different conclusions, the results all point to a key takeaway: Spending time with Dad can improve a child’s ability to connect with others in a positive way. Richard Koestner, a psychologist at McGill University, studied the results of longitudinal research conducted at Yale University in the 1950s and concluded that the less time a father spent with a child, the less the child was able to feel empathy.
"We were amazed to find that how affectionate parents were with their children made no difference in empathy," Koestner told The New York Times in 1990. "And we were astounded at how strong the father's influence was after 25 years."
It's worth noting, however, that Rohner didn't find that to be true in his research. He says it's quality of time, not simply quantity, that counts when it comes to kids perceiving their fathers as loving or not. But however you slice it, children benefit from face-to-face time with dads.
Dads bond with their children thanks to the "love hormone."A mother's hormone surge and subsequent attachment bonding at the birth of a new baby is a well-known concept. But dads release plenty of hormones, too.
Studies have suggested that new fathers have increased levels of oxytocin, aka the "love hormone," during a newborn's first weeks. Oxytocin allows new dads to bond with their babies, making it more likely that they'll engage in that all-important playtime. In fact, the surge of lovey-dovey hormones in fathers is thought to be sparked by parenting itself -- "tossing the baby in the air, pulling the little one up to sit, or encouraging exploration and laughter," according to a Live Science report of a 2010 study conducted by psychologist Ruth Feldman at Bar-Ilan University.
In fact, new dads experience all sorts of important hormonal fluctuations.Fathers exhibit about a 30 percent dip in testosterone during their infant's first three weeks, allowing the dads to unleash their inner nurturer and squash any aggressive behavior. Additionally, while waiting for their babies to be born, fathers experience a spike in cortisol, the "stress hormone" that also prompts attachment, and prolactin, the same hormone that causes mothers to produce milk.
Since men aren't producing hormones to help create a baby, Mallers hypothesizes that the stress of a new child causes many new dads to experience these fluctuations.
In short, don't underestimate the importance of fathers.Amid the social and cultural shifts of the past few decades, many dads have altered the ways in which they relate to their children. As Weinshenker put it: "I don't think we're going back to the 1950s, where a man came home after a long day at work and smoked his pipe and maybe kicked the ball around with his children."
And as women continue to thrive in the workforce, dads will be more and more encouraged to step up to the parenting plate and form strong, nurturing bonds with their kids. They're just waiting for advertisers and reality TV producers to catch up with what researchers have already found.
From LiveScience - The Science of Fatherhood - why Dads matter:
For decades, psychologists and other researchers assumed that the mother-child bond was the most important one in a kid's life. They focused on studying those relationships, and however a child turned out, mom often got the credit — or blame.
Within the last several decades, though, scientists are increasingly realizing just how much dads matter. Just like women, fathers' bodiesrespond to parenthood, and their parenting style affects their kids just as much, and sometimes more, than mom's.
"We're now finding that not only are fathers influential, sometimes they have more influence on kids' development than moms," said Ronald Rohner, the director of the Center for the Study of Interpersonal Acceptance and Rejection at the University of Connecticut.
Feeling dad's loveRohner and his colleagues recently reviewed decades of studies on parental acceptance and rejection across the globe. Unsurprisingly,parents have a major effect on their kids. When kids feel rejected or unloved by mom and dad, they're more likely to become hostile, aggressive and emotionally unstable. Parental rejection also can lead to low self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy and negative worldviews.
This is true for both parents, Rohner told LiveScience. But in some cases, dad is a more important factor than mom. [History's 12 Most Doting Dads]
Behavior problems, delinquency, depression, substance abuse and overall psychological adjustment are all more closely linked to dad's rejection than mom's, Rohner said.
By the same token, dad's love is sometimes a stronger influence for children than mom's, the researchers found.
"Knowing that kids feel loved by their father is a better predictor of young adults' sense of well-being, of happiness, of life satisfaction than knowing about the extent to which they feel loved by their mothers," Rohner said. He and his colleagues detailed their findings in May in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Review.
Influence and persistenceThe research looked only at male father figures, so while the dad in question doesn't have to be biological, the results don't apply to absentee fathers. Rohner and his colleagues aren't certain why fathers sometimes outshine moms in their kids' development. In every family, Rohner said, there is a member with more influence and prestige — the person who might set the weekend plans, for example. In families where dad is that person, his actions might make the greatest impression on the children.
In those cases, "kids tend to pay more attention to what dad does and dad says than mom, and he's going to have more influence," Rohner said.
Dads may also be responsible for endowing their kids with "stick-with-it-ness" that serves them well in life. In a study of two-parent families published Friday (June 15) in the Journal of Early Adolescence, Brigham Young University researchers found that dad's parenting style is more closely linked to whether teens will exhibit persistence than mom's parenting. A persistent personality, in turn, was related to less delinquency and more engagement in school over time.
The magic fathering style that was linked to such persistence in kids is called authoritative parenting, a style characterized by warmth and love, accountability to the rules (but explanations of why those rules exist), and age-appropriate autonomy for kids, the researchers found.
"Our study suggests fathers who are most effective are those who listen to their children, have a close relationship, set appropriate rules, but also grant appropriate freedoms," study researcher Laura Padilla-Walker told LiveScience.
It's not clear why dads might be more important than moms in teaching perseverance, but it's possible that fathers simply focus on this trait more, while moms teach traits like gratitude and kindness, Padilla-Walker said. [5 Ways to Foster Self-Compassion in Your Child]
Being a good dadFortunately for dads, biology is there to back up good parenting. Hormonal studies have revealed that dads show increased levels of oxytocin during the first weeks of their babies' lives. This hormone, sometimes called the "love hormone," increases feelings of bonding among groups. Dads get oxytocin boosts by playing with their babies, according to a 2010 study published in the journal Biological Psychiatry.
Fatherhood also leads to declines in testosterone, the "macho" hormone associated with aggressive behavior, according to research published last year in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This change is stronger the more involved a dad is with his baby's care, suggesting that it may reduce a man's risk-taking drive and encourage nurturing and domesticity.
What's most important, Padilla-Walker said, is that fathers realize they matter. Quality time is important, she said.
"That doesn't mean going on fancy vacations, it can be playing ball in the backyard or watching a movie with your kids," she said. "Whatever it is, just make yourself available and when you're with your children, bewith them."

And from Texas A&M -  Fathers Are Important – For Real!
Fathers have a powerful influence on the healthy development of their daughters and their sons.

  • Babies can distinguish their father’s voice from the voice of a stranger by the age of four weeks.
  • School-aged children show significant gains in intellectual development when their fathers are involved with them as infants.
  • Involved fathers enrich their daughter’s and son’s self image.
  • Children who have involved fathers show more sense of humor, longer attention spans, and more eagerness for learning.
  • Father involvement helps teens to develop a strong sense of who they are and increases their ability to resist peer pressure.
  • Dads are role models who teach their children to be strong, flexible adults.

  • Fathers teach sex roles: they are generally more physically active with their sons and more protective of their daughters.
  • Fathers often think “out of the box” and offer alternative strategies for problem solving.
  • Dads tend to offer more physical play than mothers, which increases the physical competency of their young children.
  • When fathers model behaviors that are respectful to women, their sons are more likely to see women as human beings rather than “things” to manipulate. But…fathers who abuse their wives raise sons who are more likely to abuse their wives and children.
  • Fathers are essential partners who share parenting with the mother of their children.

  • Fathers who interact with their newborn children are usually more likely to support their wife in her new role as mother.
  • As a partner, dads can provide balance and be a sounding board or a compass for the family.
  • Fathers, as an equal parent, can balance the parenting of the mothers through respectful disagreement and healthy support.
  • Fathers and mothers can work together to communicate and reach good decisions that benefit their children.
  • Both fathers and mothers need support as they grow into being parents.
  • Fathers need commitment from their communities in order to succeed as parents.

  • Communities can provide mentors to guide and support fathers.
  • Fathers need to be recognized for their contributions to the community.
  • Community leaders need to include fathers in decisions that concern their children.
  • Children benefit from learning about the contributions of “average fathers.”
  • Communities can plan father-child activity days.
  • Fathers are individuals who are growing and changing with experience and across situations.

  • Being a father is only one of many roles that men work to balance.
  • To learn their job as a father, men need room for trial and error.
  • Fathers who recognize their important contribution to the development of their child express more satisfaction with themselves.
  • Fathers who can nurture their children report more understanding of emotional situations at their work.
  • In a unique way, children expand the range and depth of experiences that fathers have.

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