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Fathers' Impact on Their Children

On Thursday, November 1, Director Alan Knobloch gave a presentation on a fathers’ impact on their children at a Father’s Only Breakfast. Forty-one ISD dads attended the session.  The presentation is based on current research, Dr. Knobloch’s experience as an educator and consultant on gender differences in education, and 20 years experience as a dad. A summary of the presentation is below:

Fathers can have a significant positive impact on their children’s intelligence, performance in school, social skills, and success in the workplace. To achieve these benefits, the fathers have to do one thing: spend quality time with their children. In many families, the mother is the primary caretaker of the children, and the importance of the father’s role can be overlooked. However, research across cultures has shown that men are essential to the development of both their sons and their daughters.

Children are always watching their parents. Through their observations, they learn from both positive and negative examples.  Dads show boys how to be men with their actions and their words.  A boy is more likely to be compassionate, caring, and have a strong work ethic if they have a father who models these traits.  The opposite is also true, a father who yells at his children and uninterested in his child’s lives can lead to his son repeating that behavior when he has children of his own.  A daughter learns what she should expect from her husband from her father.  Children of both genders learn about relationships by how their father treats their mother.  Parents are their children’s first teachers.  Being a good role model for children will help them have a happier life.

An actively engaged father has many benefits for children. Men who regularly engage their young children, ages birth to three, with language-rich experiences can improve a child’s intelligence. In school, children with actively engaged fathers earn 43% more A’s on their report cards than children without involved dads.  Boys with close relationships with their fathers are less likely to engage in delinquent behavior and show greater leadership skills. Both genders have fewer psychological issues when they have close relationships with their dads. These benefits also carry into adulthood with improved marriages, high-quality parenting, and better-paying jobs.

Fathers need to be actively engaged with their children and spend quality time with them on a regular basis to unlock these benefits. Watching television in the same room does not count as quality time.  The key is to show your children you care by setting aside time to be with them.  Trying to balance work and family commitments can be challenging. In our work life, if we want to make sure we get something done, we schedule it into our day or week. We should value time with our children at the same high level and record it into our calendar.

Below is a list of suggestions on how fathers can connect with their children.

  • Have a kid date (father and children alone). Take your children to dinner, a movie, a walk on the beach.

  • Family dinners

  • Play cards or board games

  • Physical play.  Young children love to wrestle with dad

  • Play a video game

  • Go to the child’s sporting events, plays. It is essential that after the event, you focus on the positive. Criticizing your child or trying to give them tips on how to do better will lessen the benefit of your attendance

  • Tell stories of when you were a child

  • Find your thing, your connection, with each of your children

  • Talk a walk

  • Listen

  • Plan separate events.  For fathers with more than one child, it is vital that you schedule a time to be with each child individually.  Learn what is unique about your child as an individual.

  • Hug them. If this is not part of your culture, a touch on the shoulder or the arm can be equally as valuable.

  • Tell them you love them.

Our work commitments can take us away from family for a period of time. Fathers can still show they care about their children and make connections when traveling.  For older students, connect with them on social media or use text messages to communicate when on the road. Send them photos from where you are that remind you of them, ask how their day was, or invite them to tell you about their basketball game.  Also, schedule time in your calendar to talk with each of your children by Skype or phone. This can be done in between meetings, at meals, or before you go to bed.

Conversations are an essential way to connect with our children.  As they get older, getting teenagers to talk can be challenging. A list of suggested questions, below, was shared with the dads.  Also, a set of questions were presented to keep the conversation going if they child stopped talking.  What did you get on your math test and how much homework do you have were examples of questions fathers should use if they wanted their children to open up to them. Also, when students are sharing about difficult situations they are facing, parents are reminded not to give advice unless asked. After listening to the story, a good question you can ask this, “is my role to listen or would you like me to give you some advice?”

Father’s have a critical role in the raising of children. The benefits are well documented. Fathers and children can develop their own set of special experiences. Setting aside quality time is essential even when traveling for work. The time you share with your child will lead to quality conversations and closer connections. An actively engaged father can help children lead happier lives and be more successful.

Questions to Get Kids Talking

•    Who did you play with today?

•    What was your favorite part of school today?

•    Tell me what frustrated you today?

•    What is one nice thing that happened today?

•    What do you find challenging (at school, sports, video games)?

•    How is (your child’s friend) doing?

•    What do you want to do this weekend?

•    Tell me something funny that happened today

•    What is the most popular thing to do at recess?

•    What is the hardest rule to follow at school?

•    Is anything worrying you?

•    What are you excited about?

•    What was the best part about your day?

•    Where is your favorite place to be at school?

Ways to Keep the Conversation Going

•    No way! Tell me more?

•    Seriously? Then what happened?

•    How do feel about what happened?

•    And this is making you think….?

•    So, now what are you planning to do?

•    I see. So what’s your next step?

•    So, then how did you feel about that?

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