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Dads bring different skills to parenting

Thursday, May 23, 2024

A father and son sitting on the floor playing with building blocks.


As we roll into June and celebrate the beginning of summer, it’s also a time to celebrate Father’s Day, the contributions fathers and father figures make to their families and their role in their children’s lives.


Moms and dads each bring different and unique skills to parenting, said Angie Behrens, program coordinator for the Fatherhood Initiative with Oklahoma State University Extension.


“Fathers engage kids in physical play and problem-solving skills and tasks, as well as teach skills that children need,” Behrens said. “Whether fathers are custodial or noncustodial, the impact fathers have on their children’s lives can’t be understated.”


A new program called Strong Dads is offered through OSU Extension uses the 24/7 DADS curriculum to teach fathers and father figures that their role is important in the development of their children and can result in better outcomes for their kids.


An article by Alexander Elguren for The Gottman Institute this year, says children reap a lifetime of benefits from 10 to 15 minutes of purposeful play. When dads consistently give children their undivided attention, intentional playtime can improve a child’s self-confidence, social skills and emotional well-being.


“In his research, Elguren indicates a key finding that revealed regular father-child playtime early in a child’s life established a pattern of involvement,” she said.


“However, quantity is not as important as the quality. Dads who are consistent with spending quality time with their kids, even for short amounts of time, build strong ties with their children, which in turn strengthens their relationship.”


Elguren also learned it’s important for mothers and mother figures to encourage dad playtime. Fathers may take cues from moms who are modeling play and emphasizing its importance. Parents must realize that unlocking play’s full potential starts with making the most of purposeful playtime together. 


Other research conducted indicates when fathers are involved with their children, the outcomes for the family, children and the fathers are positive. When the father or father figure is actively involved and engaged, not only are the children happier, but the fathers experience better physical and mental health.


In addition, co-parenting relationships are less strained, family ties are stronger, and children have better overall emotional and social well-being. Research also shows that children with involved fathers show more empathy, emotional security, curiosity and pro-social behavior.


“Although June 16 is the date on the calendar to celebrate fathers and father figures in our lives, every day of the week is a day for dads to spend time with their children and celebrate their presence,” Behrens said. “Involved fathers truly make a difference.”

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