I knew when I became a mother that the most difficult part of my job as a parent would be to let my husbanad help me. This isn’t because my husband isn’t as smart, funny, or gentle as I am. It’s because I (like many I suppose) partially bought into the myth that fathers are the stage hands and mothers the center-stage nurturers. Now that Gabe is here, I realize just how essential his Daddy time is.
Recent research on the nature of father-child bonds has come up with some really cool results about the importance of the old man in our children’s lives. Let’s celebrate the awesomness of dad– here are just a few bits of the data that are emerging.
* Fathers help bolster children’s cognitive capacities, especially verbal skills. Researchers at the University of Chapel Hill have discovered that though fathers speak fewer words to their children, fathers (not mothers) largely determine their children’s language development by age three. Researchers attribute this to fathers’ tendency to ask more questions and ask for additional clarification from their children. The folks conducting the study thought this might be because mothers understood their toddler’s utterances better, and thus did not push children for longer explanations.
*Researchers have found that kids who have stable, involved dads fare better on nearly every measurement that researchers have studied. Children whose fathers are very engaged in their lives are more confident, display more self-control, and are less likely to act out in school.
*Fathers have a different style of play than mothers and are more likely to encourage their kids to take on risks and challenges. Researchers report that men have less predictable play patterns, and that presenting kids with surprises rather than conventional games may boost children’s problem-solving skills.
There you have it–proof positive that when your dad asks you to explain yourself for the 10th time, or risk life and limb in some bizarre yard clearing event (maybe that’s just me) he’s actually building your brain. I hope all the fathers out there had a wonderful day, and will continue to invest in their kids all year ’round.
Your partner in healing,
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