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The Importance of Dads

Posted on 18 May 2018

It’s nearly Father’s Day, which prompts us all to remember the dads in our lives. Of course, many children now have a different experience than the traditional model of fathers coming home from work late, watching TV, and waiting for mum to call for tea. But with the ever-changing landscape of parental leave, parental rights and flexible working, what does this mean for the importance of dads?

The Changing Role of Dads

New research suggests that fathers spend less time at work now and mothers spend more – allowing fathers to have a more noticeable role at home. In fact, only one fifth of families have the traditional male breadwinner model where the father goes to work and the mother stays home.

Moving away from this trend has meant that fathers’ roles have expanded to include more activities with children. In a recent report about fathers’ growing involvement, research shows they are spending more time helping with homework, talking with their children, making meals and participating in leisure activities.

But what does this mean for the family unit?

Considering that most dads are no longer the ‘weekend parent’, the parenting is viewed as a joint enterprise, either by parents in the same home or in two-home families. Meaning that more fathers are now doing school pick-ups, arranging childcare and taxiing to various school activities.

As a result, employers are increasingly supporting paternity leave and shared parental leave for families to balance work and childcare responsibilities. Understanding that fathers now want to have a stronger presence in their children’s lives is important, and understanding how the rules are changing allows fathers to share the role.

The Benefits of Being a Father

There are plenty of studies that show that children with fathers in their lives have higher IQs, are healthier and are less likely to get into trouble.

However, did you know that active fathers, themselves, make healthier lifestyle choices, are happier at work and are better at multitasking?  Fatherhood develops competence across a wide-ranging skill set and develops attributes that have a positive impact beyond the parent-child relationship including, patience, playfulness, humility, confidence, improvisation, selflessness, authority and organisation.

It’s also good to note that many single parents raise happy, healthy and independent children. And that a very small minority of all men (3%) have responsibility for non-resident children who they have either biologically fathered or played a fathering role to. 87% of these single fathers have said they are present in their children’s lives and that this is a positive relationship.

Reaching Vulnerable Dads

As a society we are waking up to the fact that challenges traditionally thought to affect mums, also affect fathers. Postnatal depression in dads is on the rise and where in the past, men may have suffered in silence for fear of ridicule, many more are coming forward to discuss their feelings around birth.

In fact, one in three new fathers are worried about mental health and the lack of support out there for fathers. A great organisation providing a gateway to services and support is Dads Matter UK.

Dads with a history of substance misuse, mental health problems or domestic violence can find support to develop a better relationship with their children through charities such as Mellow Parenting.

Being a Dad Makes You Happier

No matter what your position in life or in work, always remember if ever in doubt of the importance of being a dad, your life is contributing to your children’s happiness and positive memories.