Daddy On The Spot: You Matter To Your Child’s Development More Than You Think

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Last year, during Father’s Day, the women’s fellowship and the children’s department of my church made a big deal out of it. We organised the children for a presentation. The women wrote poems in tribute to the fathers. We had a beautiful dessert cake made for them, amongst other surprises. It turned out really fantastic in the end, if the smiles on the faces of the men were anything to go by.

They also showed their appreciation to the women for pulling off the surprise. Believe me, it was nothing like the previous years. I was talking with a daddy of a one year old daughter back then, and he had been pleasantly floored by the outpouring of love for fathers on that day and he said, “This is really good, but I feel we don’t celebrate our fathers enough.”

I was the wrong person to say that to. I love my father. I think he is the most brilliant person I know, but I also know his shortcomings, same as my children are witnesses to my own short comings. I know too many women with daddy issues. I grew up with too many boys and girls whose daddies weren’t there. Some were physically present but for all purposes, their children might as well have been fatherless. That may sound harsh, but the lives of these boys and girls, some of whom are now mommas and daddies themselves, were harsh. Some have gone on to replicate what their fathers did. Some of the girls have gotten married to men like their daddies, and are stuck in the vicious circle that took their momma many years to escape.

In fact, compared to many of the people I grew up with, I was literally in the laps of luxury, as I have a father whom, if I played my game well, I could get anything from, without even being sent to my mother. So you see, that daddy of one shouldn’t be talking to me about how men aren’t be celebrated enough.

In my mind, I was like, “The fathers failed, so what’s there to celebrate?” But that would be unfair to him. I have seen him and his daughter, and I know how hands –on he is with her. I have met his own father and how devoted that old man is to his wife (theirs is old school love) and how enamoured he is of his grandchildren. So, for a man like him and his ilk, fathers are worth celebrating.

Thankfully, so many young daddies around me these days are so perfect, and are beautiful examples of how to be a father, and not the stand-offish, aloof and African description of a father of the past. But I wonder, where did they learn it from, because someone of them didn’t have such perfect examples. Movies? Whatever, it’s all well and good and if more of it comes, perhaps then I would really think that daddies are really worth celebrating.

What brings me to this subject matter is the fact that there are so many ways, so many roles that daddies play in the lives of their children, both born and in-utero, but aren’t doing, for lack of knowledge and, in some cases, a need to maintain their headship, by staying aloof from “the pack” (sorry mommas and children). What happens in the end is children get denied their fraternal rights, which has an effect on them and future generations, if they end up behaving like their daddies.

Below are a few ways daddies impact their children’s development in life.

In the early days, weeks, months…sometimes even years…it may seem like all a baby wants is its momma, and momma has everything baby needs. But this research from Oxford University contradicts this notion.

This research clearly states that children whose fathers are more positively engaged with them at the age of three months have fewer behavioural problems at the age of twelve months.

The study shows that babies DO benefit from time with dad, especially male babies.

This study found that babies who didn’t have a close bond with dad were more likely to exhibit behavioural problems and disorders as they got older.

Even if dad was around baby often, if he wasn’t intentionally interacting with baby, it didn’t have the same positive effect as meaningful social interaction. Being intentional is the key here.

One of the researchers, Dr Ramchandani, explained: “We found that children whose fathers were more engaged in the interactions had better outcomes, with fewer subsequent behavioural problems.

At the other end of the scale, children tended to have greater behavioural problems when their fathers were more remote and lost in their own thoughts or when their fathers interacted less with them.”

And there’s more…

Asides from the toddler years and likely behavioural disorders, fathers play a surprisingly large role in their children’s development, from language and cognitive growth in toddlerhood to social skills in fifth grade, according to new findings from Michigan State University scholars.

The research provides some of the most conclusive evidence to date of fathers’ importance to children’s outcomes.

The findings are published online in two academic journals, Early Childhood Research Quarterly and Infant and Child Development.

“There’s this whole idea that grew out of past research that dads really don’t have direct effects on their kids, that they just kind of create the tone for the household and that moms are the ones who affect their children’s development,” said Claire Vallotton, Associate Professor and Primary Investigator on the research project. “But here, we show that fathers really do have a direct effect on kids, both in the short term and long term.”

The study, which was carried out on 732 families, found out that a father’s parental stress level could negatively impact a child’s cognitive and language development at 2 and 3 years of age. This was even with taking into account a mother’s interactions with the child.

A father experiencing a lot of parental stress can delay their child’s development. This impact was even greater for boys than girls. The study said.

Well, daddies, do you need any more excuse to engage with your children and positively too.

I will admit that women are often more equipped to become mothers than men to become daddies but you can just take a look around you. There are men doing well at this daddy business, seek their support, ask for help, you and your children will only be happier for it.

And your wife will love you more (if that’s possible). Just trust me on this one.

Go daddies!!!

 

 

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Photo credits:

1. Pinterest

 

 

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