Children learn and grow primarily from their first teachers – their family. We often place a lot of this pressure on mums but it is important that we don’t forget about dad! While there are many single parent families, there is often a supplementary figure who plays the part of ‘mum’ or ‘dad’ for a child. Why is contact with dad (or another male role model) important? Children who have a balance of affection, love and support from both a mum and dad have:
– higher levels of self-reported happiness
– higher levels of confidence
– fewer feelings of fear and guilt
– less emotional distress and upset.
Girls connected with their dads often have strong feelings of being confident and capable, and have a positive sense of identity while boys who feel connected with their dads often have more self-control.
Involved fathers are more likely to be more attentive to their children’s development, see interactions with their children positively, better understand and be more accepting of their children, and enjoy closer, richer father-child relationships.
There is no ‘correct’ way to be a dad (or a mum) however, dads can get more involved in the following ways:
– taking a role in looking out for their children’s care and welfare – perhaps doing the school or day care drop off some days, going to doctors’ appointments with your child, cooking the dinner, managing bath time etc
– having direct contact with your child – have shared experiences, play games together or read a story together.
– If you aren’t able to be physically in contact with your child or have work travel, make sure you are still available to your child when they need you. Ring and check in, have a genuine conversation, be real with them and reassure them that you are always contactable and there for them.
By fostering this involvement and making it a priority in your family, your child will thrive on the feelings of belonging and affection that come from caring and supportive family unit with positive relationships which in the long run will support the child’s mental health and wellbeing.