The Importance of Fathers in the Family

Updated: Mar 26

Growing up in American culture, dads were often stereotyped as strict, cold, authoritarian, and detached... but the times are changing. Dads today are more involved with their children than their fathers were with them and studies are proving that children with "involved dads" grow up to be more emotionally intelligent and socially successful adults. WOW!

While you are expecting or shortly after the baby arrives, it's important for dads to take part in caregiving and play. Some dads worry that they won't know what to do with their baby or that they will do it wrong.

It's okay for dads to not know what to do - babies do not come with instructions when they are born.

Expecting a baby can bring up a whole new set of skills for new dads to learn. Feeding, diapering, and bathing can seem overwhelming at first. Some enjoy the "Boot Camp for New Dads" workshops to meet other dads and learn skills together and other dads may prefer to learn on the spot when the baby arrives with their partner.

Dads offer a unique approach in play, often more physical and tactile. "By two to three weeks of age, an infant will display an entirely different attitude (more wide-eyed, playful, and bright-focused) toward data than with mom."

Let's take a closer look at benefits:

When dads are highly involved with their infants (measured by high levels of caregiving and play interactions) babies benefit. Study after study shows when dads are involved, children:

  • Have better cognitive functioning at 6 months

  • Are better problem solvers as toddlers

  • Have higher IQs by age 3

  • Show more concern for others and are more empathic

  • Are more likely to handle strange situations and are more resilient

  • Have fewer negative emotions like fear and guilt

It's good for dads too! When they are involved they:

  • Report having greater marital satisfaction and intimacy

  • Feel more self-confident and effective as a parent

  • Have improvements in the mother-child relationship

  • Find parenthood more satisfying

Partner conversation starter:

What activity would you like to share with our child that could become a ritual or tradition in our family? For example, making a birthday cake, teaching a child to ride a bike, swim or play a sport, having a storytime, and more!

As a Certified Gottman Bringing Baby Home Leader, I have intensive training in Dr. John Gottman’s research and his And Baby Makes Three which provides a wonderful model for helping couples to manage the transition to parenthood.

© 2020 Center for Heart Intelligence LLC | an Ohio Telehealth Practice 
Meagan Prost, LPCC-S, BC-TMH
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