Importance of ‘involved’ fathers

A girl’s first true love is her father. – Marisol Santiago

Almost any man can father a child but there is a stark difference between just being a father and being an involved father. A daughter especially looks to her father for many of her needs requiring him to be affectionate, attentive, confident and involved.

Research has shown that babies who have experienced early interaction with their fathers have better outcomes later in life. They are academically more successful, have better interpersonal relationships, are less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol and are less likely to be involved in crime and delinquency .

We can see modern hands on dads portrayed in the media from the likes of David Beckham holding his kids and Will Smith carrying his baby. Studies have shown that dads who use an infant carrier to explore the world with their baby are able to develop a stronger bond to their child. These positive dad figures encourage being an involved father as opposed to the removed dad that was more common traditionally. The one who went to work and supported the family in that way only leaving the child rearing up to the mother.

Mothers are invaluable of course but fathers bring a different style of parenting to the table. Having either one on its own simply isn’t adequate as they balance each other out which is essential for healthy child development as depicted by researchers.

Involved dads, especially biological dads but not limited to, bring benefits to a child’s development that no other person is likely to bring. Studies show that dads ‘love their children more dangerously’. They engage in rougher play and provide a different perspective of the world encouraging risk taking with healthy boundaries and objectively discerning right from wrong. Dads see their children in relation to the world whereas mums see the world in relation to their children. Both perspectives equally essential to the healthy development of a well balanced child.

As I have just had my daughter, I’ve been reading journal articles on a fathers impact on his daughter. An involved father is absolutely crucial for a daughters future relationships and how she views interpersonal connections with others. It’s often said that a girl marries a man much like her father. This statement looks at the values, behaviours and connection that she had to her own father. Having an involved dad is more likely to have an impact in her seeking partners who are emotionally available, consistent and loving towards her. A daughters father sets the tone for this from the moment she is born by his willingness to be involved in her life.

We all want the very best for our children now and in the future. The importance of involved fathers brings a peace and contentment to my heart to know that we are working towards doing the best we can. Being in my second marriage I am determined to create a more positive psychosocial environment to allow my daughter to thrive.

That being said sometimes it’s unfortunate when parents are not able to stay married, however research shows a married father to have the most positive impact, this does not diminish the importance of being having an involved father who is single. My two daughters from my first marriage have two involved parents that are no longer together but strive to provide them with the balance they need for healthy development.

Whichever relationship structure you are part of, the most important aspect of fatherhood is to be involved.

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