This Father’s Day we are imploring Australians to give thanks and think about ALL our Fathers. Whether they are single dads, stepfathers, donor fathers, blended fathers, traditional dads etc. Whatever the role your father plays for you or the man in your life plays for your children, it is way more important than what you think.
Over time our society has slowly changed, it is now addressing the inequalities that exist especially for women and with this change has also come a significant shift to the fathering role. Research has shown that Australian fathers are a lot more involved in the lives of their children than they were a generation ago and even more significant from 2 generations ago, lets be frank here this can only be a good thing! Fathers who spend quality time and ‘play’ often with their children usually give their time exclusively which gives their children important social skills used later in life. Other recent research also highlights that even after a divorce, fathers have the capacity to enhance children’s self-esteem, they also make a real difference to their children’s learning and development in everything they do. Meaningful ways Dads can engage with their kids can include;
- Listening to your kids – yes, some stories can go on-and-on but listening is so important. It shows them they are important also teaches them how to listen too.
- Talking to your kids – tell them about things you are interested in and about you, the art of conversation is an important social skill for them to learn.
- Spending quality time – turn off devices and spend time together doing something your child enjoys, ideally you should enjoy it too! E.g. cooking, playing board games, reading, playing sport etc.
- Modeling behaviour you want to see – kids will copy you so be mindful of your tone of voice and how you are behaving.
- Having fun together – share fun times and laugh lots, humour is really important, especially to get over the small things!
Fathers can sometimes go unnoticed especially during the ‘baby’ phase and while the amount of time a father spends ‘caring’ for children through the week has not changed in the last 10 years, how they ‘care’ has changed! In a study conducted by McCrindle Research in 2010, it was uncovered that men under 30 are less likely to be adept at building a cubby house, fixing a tap or a punctured tire, but more likely to be able to change a baby’s nappy, bake a birthday cake, wash clothes and drop the kids off at school. A testament to how times have indeed changed.
It is important that we as a society lift our fathers up and when we say this, of course it should not be at the expense of Mothers. Lifting dads up does not meaning knocking mothers down. We need to understand that all the research profoundly points towards the positive outcomes in children when fathers take an active role. Outcomes include but are not limited to; better peer relationships; fewer behaviour problems; lower criminality and substance abuse; better education outcomes; increased capacity for empathy and higher self-esteem.
So this Father’s Day give the male role model in your life whether they are biological dad, step dad, other dad, grand dad, bonus father, donor father etc. your TIME. Choose seeing them over a device or choose experiences over socks and jocks, the man in your life will thank you the kids will benefit, and the memories will last a life time.
Did you know:
- 20% of Australia’s population is made up of dads that’s 4.6 million dads in Australia
- 2 million dads currently with children aged under 18
- Of these, approximately 156,000 are single-parent fathers, who look after 228,000 children, which averages at 1.5 kids for each single dad.
- Google search trends show “Father’s Day” was one of the most popular searches in Australia… in June last year?
- High levels of father involvement have been linked to better social and academic skills in their children.
- Disengaged fathering has been linked to problems in children and young people as diverse as obesity, delinquency and depression
- There is more help in the form of programs now for dads than ever see below for links
If you are a new dad you can sign up to texts, which include links to online resources, also prompt fathers to monitor health behaviours (diet, exercise, social connection) and every three weeks fathers receive a ‘How’s it going?” interactive text. Dads can reply with Awesome or Cool or OK or Shaky or Bad. ‘Bad’ responses are escalated to receive a telephone call from a national perinatal mental health help line. https://www.sms4dads.com/About/Project.aspx
Raising children’s network – how to get some special dad time into your routine.
Step and blended dads can find extra resources on the Stepfamilies Australia website
ABS, McCrindle Research, Google Analytics 2012, 2013.
Fathers Matter 2009
The Dad Project, 2013
Parenting of Divorced Fathers and the Association with Children’s Self-Esteem, 2012
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