My childhood was unique for its time. My father played just as important a role in my upbringing as my mother. Dad shuttled me to soccer games, dropped me off at play dates, and pushed me to achieve academic greatness. At the time, I didn’t realize it was unusual for a father to be so integrated in his children’s daily lives. I also didn’t appreciate the intellectual significance my father’s influence could provide, given that researchers concluded that children who spend more time with their fathers have higher IQ’s and improved career success.
Times have changed, and 46% of fathers researched in a 2012 survey said they spend more time with their own children than their fathers spent with them as a child. All across the nation, dads who are able to be home for bedtime are tucking in their children with a story, probably not even realizing that a Harvard study found that when fathers read to children, those children, particularly girls, benefitted more in their language skills than if just mom were reading to them. Children who are fortunate to have involved fathers are actually more likely to receive A’s on their report cards. In schools from Baywood, California to West Orange, New Jersey, proactive dads have become active participants during parent teacher conferences and created father associations to help sponsor and support school activities. These lucky dads are recognizing and appreciating the value of the time they spend with their kids, and children are achieving more academic success as a result of their dad’s involvement with their school.
Behavioral psychologist Dr. Gail Gross has noted the importance of fathers’ roles:
Studies show that if your child’s father is affectionate, supportive, and involved, he can contribute greatly to your child’s cognitive, language, and social development, as well as academic achievement, a strong inner core resource, sense of well-being, good self-esteem, and authenticity.
Jerry, a retired military officer, spends much of his week raising his son. He volunteers for lunch duty, gets his son ready for school, and escorts him to after school activities. To him, role model is his most important duty:
Throughout my professional career, I had the honor and privilege of holding many different ranks, titles, positions and various levels of responsibility. However the greatest one came when I became a dad. I also become a hero and a hero gives everything to something greater and that’s my son…
Beyond their school participation, U.S. dads are spending time with their kids on athletic fields across the country. A youth’s sports study showed that 85 percent of children’s coaches are fathers coaching their own kids. Many fathers consider coaching a hallmark of their relationship with their children and view the experience as an opportunity to teach important lessons like perseverance:
Being a coach was just part of my blueprint of what kind of dad I wanted to be. I love watching them learn . . . and persevere. . . . Honestly, sometimes I think I get more out of it than they do!
Sean Folkson – Founder & CEO, NightFood, Inc.
In addition, many fathers have realized how invaluable and fleeting their time is with their kids. Bob, a hedge fund manager, spends almost all his free time with his family. He wants to make sure he is there every step of the way in his children’s development: “You blink, and your kids are grown up. If I’m at work all the time or out with friends, I feel like I’m missing out on things I will never have again – the experience of raising our children as a family unit. ”
As today’s U.S. children grow up, they see their father not just a breadwinner, but also as an essential touchstone in their daily lives. As noted in a Bringham Young study, it is a father’s involvement in the day-to day-family activities – playing, watching tv together, relaxing – that is truly significant in terms of family happiness. http://www.parenting.com/article/why-kids-need-their-dads. For those blessed children reaping the benefits of an involved father, the American father is no longer just respected; he is influential, adored and admired.