Coronavirus has brought us a string of heavy news, and as I reflect on what we can be thankful for during these times, I think it would be time with family. In particular, I have heard moms sharing that parenting and childcare has been easier since they have gotten more time with dads at home. For this column, I will be sharing about the impact dads have on their children.
The Father Effect
The influence of fathers in parenting is so great that there is a term called the father effect. The results of many surveys and studies all commonly report that a father’s parenting can have a tremendous impact on a child’s intellectual abilities (including learning skills), self-esteem, and sociability. It is also reported that children who have a good relationship with their father, grow in a balanced well rounded way, and have a stable happiness index.
The father effect is said to especially influence a child’s learning ability. The commonality of children whose fathers were intimately involved in the family were that they excelled in nonverbal subjects such as mathematics, science, and engineering. This is because the way the fathers interacted with their children were primarily cognitive. Using reason and thinking strategies, rather than language and emotions. For example, fathers typically engage in play such as building lego, or sports /physical play.
Then, what kind of power do fathers have that create the father effect?
Above all, relationships with fathers help children see a single situation in a variety of perspectives.
Just looking at my home, when my daughters have a question or are confronted with a problem, the children’s father and I, their mother, have slightly different responses. I speak about my child’s or the opposite person’s feelings and relationship. While their father provides more accurate information with a logical explanation giving our children the opportunity to understand with their head, and learn a new facts. In this way, children who have been stimulated evenly by both male/female inclinations or personalities will have a wider range of views on an object or event.
In addition, time spent with the father gives children a sense of full happiness, and through this, children develop a healthy self-esteem. Sometimes when I am downstairs cooking or washing dishes, I can hear a loud laughter coming from the second floor. When I make my way upstairs, I find my two daughters drenched in sweat laughing on the ground with their father. I too have many conversations, jokes, and laughs with them, but there is a clear difference in their laughter with me. “Still, our children must love mommy more…” I anticipate at times. But I have come to the honest realization that my children are being filled with a happiness I know I am not able to give. Play with mom, and play with dad hold two very different personalities. It is not about which one is a better form of play, it’s about the different types of satisfaction you give your child. The happiness given by the father, results in positive energy in the child and the ability to brush off any stress. I have found that when my children have a dilemma or conflict, they are able to look at the situation differently by having a good laugh with their father.
Lastly, the most important effect from the father effect that cannot be left out, is that it greatly affects the way we see God. When we call on God, we call him father don’t we? Many believers understand God in the light of their father’s image. Those who had distance with their father, feel distant with God. And those who were abused and hurt by their father, often find it difficult to call on God as father. It is said that fathers have a close influence on forming the image of God.
I know there are many single-parent families in our current society. By finding a healthy father figure from family and friends around you that your child enjoys, and helping them develop a healthy relationship with a balanced and safe figure in love, they can receive positive influence.
A father who never refuses to come when called out to, a father who forgives and teaches wrongs and mistakes, a father who brings comfort and peace, a father who protects you from danger or trouble with a strong embrace and tells you the way. I think about how grateful it would be for our children to grow up balanced, healthy, and happily, going out towards God, through the image of their father.