I hope that many of you have special memories of spending time with your father or grandfather. The older I get, the more I recognize that many of the things I do and say reflect my father’s influence. The memories I have of my grandfather are ones I cherish every time I take a horseback ride.
We know that the father’s role in families is an important one and contributes both to the growth and development of the father and his children. A father’s influence continues across the generations. Some research says that fathers who are more involved in infant care-giving have infants with greater cognitive development at one year of age than fathers who are less involved in infant care-giving. Another researcher reported that fathers who were very involved with their preschool children helped foster their verbal ability and a sense of being in charge of his/her fate.
Research documents many important aspects of a father’s influence on his children in the areas of self esteem and school achievement. Here are some other important points that research tells us:
- Self- Esteem - Father involvement is related to self-esteem in children. Those fathers who were more affectionate and spent time with their children contributed positively to the self-esteem of their children.
- School Achievement - Fathers who value education have children who do better in school than those fathers who do not value education.
- Memories - Fathers have the opportunity to spend quality time with their children that may contribute happy memories to last a lifetime. They set a role model for their children to follow.
- Involvement - Fathers can be involved in the lives of their children by attending school events, games and activities. They also involve the children in their lives and the adult world by taking them to see the workplace, taking them when the car needs to be repaired, etc.
- Support - Fathers expect a great deal from their children, but also accept and support the unique individuals their children are becoming. They acknowledge each child and are never ashamed of their children.
- Discipline - Fathers set limits and are firm. They let their children know their beliefs and expectations but rely on explanations and reasoning rather than force. They teach their children boundaries and decision making that grow with them into responsible young adults.
- Time - Fathers need to spend time with their children. They realize that their time is really an investment in the future of their children. Taking time for the child when the child needs that time will be much more important than taking time for the child when it is convenient for the father. Many fathers of adult children reflect back to those days when the children were home and wish they had invested more time with their children.
- So what are some simple ways to spend more time with your children?
- Eat meals together - the benefits are not only nutritional, but emotional as well.
- Let them work alongside with you when they are young- teach them that not all chores are “work” like raking the leaves or weeding the garden or maybe cleaning out the garage.
- Encourage their special interests by supporting activities like band, 4-H or scouts.
Being an involved father or grandfather, provides opportunities for growth and development for everyone involved. For more details, check out this article http://extension.missouri.edu/p/GH6500
Take time to say “Thanks, Dad!” Happy Father’s Day and enjoy the memories in the making!
Melinda Hill is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722.