The importance of dads

Daughter on dads shoulders

As Father’s Day approaches, I’m thinking about my dad. He’s always been my go-to for support, advice and a good whooping on the tennis court. Some of my favorite memories include him coaching my softball team in his suit and tie having come straight from work when I was young and he and my mom surprising me in New York for my big accomplishments in college.

I was lucky that, in spite of his busy schedule, my dad always found time for me, which I know was a balancing act. The National Fatherhood Initiative recently asked men what they viewed as the biggest obstacle to being a good father, and nearly half of them said it was work responsibilities.

While moms are traditionally looked at as the primary caregiver for children, dads today are doing more for the family.

“Children expect their dads to be in their lives,” says Dr. Kyle Pruett from the Yale School of Medicine’s Child Study Center. He notes that fathers have begun “taking more responsibility for the well-being of their children” to the extent that, as shown in an NBC survey, just 48% of dads say their primary role is financial.

Men provide a lot more than just financial support now. Grocery shopping — or most of it — is handled by 30% of dads, and 26% are responsible for preparing meals. And today 54% of dads are changing diapers while only 35% remember their own father doing that.

Their involvement goes beyond practical duties, though. The survey also revealed that 73% of men believe “a real man knows how to express emotional support to his children.”

I know that I lucked out with my dad being there emotionally for me and my siblings through thick and thin. I can always count on him to be my shoulder to cry on or someone to celebrate with (and bring the beer)!

Daniel Pacheco, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Banner Behavioral Health Hospital says, “The responsibilities of fatherhood are paramount. The relationship between a father and his children is a very special and important one. His actions and influence will lay the ground work for their future well-being and their families. ”

One benefit, according to the American Psychological Association, is that “children who receive more love from their fathers are less likely to struggle with behavioral or substance abuse problems.”

But what about dads who spend time away from their family? The good news, as Dr. Siegel told Parenting, is that “For those fathers who have not participated as much in raising their children, it’s never too late to change behaviors. This will help fathers become closer to their children no matter when they increase their involvement.”

Regardless of when the father-child involvement begins, this is a good time of year to honor the many dads worldwide who’ve played a part in raising healthier, happier children — and those who will do so in the future. Happy Father’s Day to all of them!

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