Guest post by Jennifer Hayes O’Neill, LMSW, edited by Jeff Campbell
Wondering about the benefits of father involvement?
I’ve noticed a thing. It’s not unusual for fathers to tell me they don’t matter to their kids. I don’t think they really feel this, but they say it.
Dads. I’m here to tell you. You matter. Deeply.
Look. Here’s the research. Your sons will use you to decide what a man is. Your daughters will use you to decide how the men in their lives should treat them. Think about that for a minute. Especially the part about your daughters.
That’s not just me saying it. That’s the research.
Kids who have a solid relationship with their fathers do better in school, get better jobs, are more likely to find and keep healthy relationships, and generally, are more confident in the world.
Dads. You matter. I’m sorry the world has led you to believe you are the second-tier parent. Dudes, you’re not. You bring a different skill set to parenting that balances what moms bring. Your kids need your Dadness. They need the benefits of father involvement.
Here are five ways you can bring it and connect with your child Dad-Style.
Hero: Being the Strong Father Your Children Need
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— Middle Class Dad (@middleclassdad1) April 25, 2018
1. Throw down the gauntlet
Dads are great at teaching competition.
You see the value in the lessons learned on the field of play. You are not afraid of competition and, when it’s done well, you get how valuable it is for building true confidence.
Dads often know all about sportsmanship, being a team player, how to win and, just as important, how to lose. You also get how those lessons translate to the rest of life. These are true dad wisdom that will help your kids in life, and one of the best benefits of father involvement.
2. A little mud never hurt anyone
I like a good mud run as much as anyone, but all in all, men tend to be good with being dirty in a way that women find, ummm, sort of disgusting.
But there is no greater joy as a kid than getting messy, muddy, and dirty.
Turns out, this is good for them. Not just joy wise, but also health wise. In case you missed the news, according to WebMD (and lots of other sources), the docs have found that kids who are exposed to nature build stronger immune systems and are less likely to develop allergies, asthma, and autoimmune disease. Go figure.
So, get dirty with your kids. It’s good for them and they will sincerely love this.
It’s also a great way to get the kids off their screens and interacting with the real world. Not sure how that helps? Check out all the benefits of Limiting Screen Time.
3. Bring it on
Moms can be fun, but dads bring it in a whole different way.
You’re amazing at pushing the limits and introducing some risk and challenge into the fun. This is incredibly important for kids’ development – physically and emotionally.
There is nothing like conquering the mountain to make you feel like you can take on the world. Overcoming a physical and mental test helps our kids learn that they can master life. There is no faster way to build your kid’s confidence than to help them take on a challenge and succeed.
4. The grosser the better
Kids, especially our cute little boys, freaking LOVE to be gross.
There is nothing funnier than a fart or a booger joke.
Sorry dads, but you are much better at this than moms. Honestly, it’s OK to embrace this with your kid. Be your grossest self.
This is primo kid gold. Laughing hysterically over stupid stuff bonds us with our kids, and they will long remember the feeling of being stupid silly with you.
5. Your kids want memories, not money
Here’s the deal, all the happiness research has shown that it’s not things that make us happy, it’s experiences.
So, while I know it’s important to bring home the bacon, your kids love you for how you make them feel, not what you buy them.
Trust me on this.
I’ve had kids sit in my office and tell me they feel super conflicted when their parents are divorced, and their dad just buys them lots of stuff rather than spending time with them. They tell me they like the stuff, but they’d rather have Dad’s attention and time. They’d give up the stuff for the benefits of father involvement.
Seriously. They say this.
They would give the stuff up. Our kids just want us. They want us to talk to them, play with them, and spend time with them. They want to build stuff with you and watch a funny movie with you. You do this in a different way than moms do it. So, don’t just leave it to the moms to hang out.
The time you spend with your child, or the time you don’t, matters to them.
Ready to dive in even deeper? Check out the most popular parenting post on Middle Class Dad. The 23 Qualities of a Good Father.
The benefits of father involvement takeaway
Dads, in all sincerity, if you take nothing else away from this, I want you to take this.
Your relationship with your kids has deep meaning to them and an enormous impact on how they will see themselves for the rest of their lives. If you believe they will conquer the world, they will believe that. If you believe they are beautiful and are made to be treasured, they will believe that.
You have so much power in your hands. Hold your children well and be an involved father.
About the author of this post.
Jennifer Hayes O’Neill, LMSW has worked in the mental health field since 1982 and received her Master’s degree in Social Work from California State University. She began working as a therapist in 1997. For 10 years she served as Clinical Director and the Executive Director of the Early Childhood Counseling Center in California. She has been in private practice, currently in Michigan, since 2006. She has a blog on her web page at Resilient Life Parenting. Follow her on Facebook!
Want to write for Middle Class Dad too? Check out everything you need to know on my Guest Blog Page.
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