September 01, 2017
img_0612.jpg

It is not surprising that paediatricians try to encourage fathers to play an early role in the care of their children. Research clearly shows the developmental and health benefits good father figures play in raising children.

According to Craig Garfield, MD from the School of Medicine in Chicago, "Fathers today are more involved with their children than ever before, and they want to know from the paediatrician how their child is developing," Yet, despite this evidence, many fathers face old stereotypes that prevent them from playing this important role in the lives of their children wrote Lara C. Pullen, PhD in a recent June 2016 article.
 
To highlight the significant difference poor vs positive parenting makes we need look no further than the research by Dr Lisa Wood and Estee Lambin of The University of Western Australia. This research involving 10,000 families over 10 years identifies how fathers and father figures can shape child health and well-being.
The main findings of this report were that fathers matter. Fathers who consistently parent well over time have children who perform better academically, socially, emotionally and enjoy better health and development. It is noted a father’s self-efficacy and warmth in parenting are the most powerful predictors of children’s improved health, academic, social and emotional outcomes. When dads aren't involved, children are more likely to abuse drugs, commit violent crimes, drop out of school, live in poverty, and face teenage pregnancy and struggle with depression.
It was interesting to see how the age and occupation of a father also matters according to this research.  Younger parents report more anger, tend to feel more hostile and are more over-protective than older parents, yet were more consistent with their parenting and had fewer argumentative relationships.  Men with trade and production occupations have on average, poorer fathering skills the research reported.
Children who have a father or father figure live with them throughout their life have better learning outcomes, general health, emotional wellbeing and fewer problem behaviours.
Parenting can be very daunting for some dads and if these fears are not overcome early avoidance of this role can easily become the norm. Chatting with your doctor or a trained psychologist can be a worthwhile investment in the future of your family. If dad is reluctant to try these avenues, there are some useful free parenting programs you could consider attending. These free programs available in Queensland may give dads the tools and confidence needed to rise to the challenge and make a real difference. In doing so fathers come to realise just how special they are and as they continue to learn this increases their confidence levels in fathering.
Dr. Ken Canfield, founder and president of the US National Center for Fathering shares that, “The most important thing to keep in mind when getting dad involved is that parenting is a team effort. Fathers have a unique and irreplaceable role in the life of their child and we need to encourage and equip them with the tools that they need to excel.”
- Medscape Online, thefatheringproject.org, growingup.com