The outdated adage goes that fathers are more or less similar to mothers – they just do things worse. The idea that fathers are essentially “back-up” mothers gained prominence in the 20th century when traditional gender norms and stereotypes were seen as truisms across society. Now, however, those roles are starting to change. The traditional roles of fathers and mothers are starting to blend, and according to research cited in a recent article by the LA Times, that’s a good thing for children. So listen up, dads, because you’re more important than you might think!
Despite popular folk wisdom of the past century, fathers have a significant and lasting impact on their children’s development and lives. Studies have shown that involved, supportive fathers have a positive impact on their children in a variety of ways, stretching across many areas of development. Here are just a few of the statistics that outline the importance of an invested father:
These are all critical domains for a child’s development, and this is only the tip of the iceberg for how a father helps a child grow. Thankfully, outdated social norms and expectations around fatherhood are changing, giving dads a chance to live up to their parenting potential and have the maximum positive impact on their children.
Dad isn’t just a breadwinner anymore. As more women join the workforce and pursue long-term careers, fathers are taking on a larger role in raising their children. The Census Bureau estimates that some 200,000 married fathers are stay-at-home dads, while men make up 16% of single parents in America, totaling 1.9 million single dads. As gay marriage is legalized in more and more states, more children than ever are growing up with two dads – and even for heterosexual parents, fathers are having an increasingly significant impact on their children’s development.
As the norm of toxic hypermasculinity erodes and men are allowed to embrace more of their emotional life, fathers are playing a more important role in raising an emotionally honest and open child. So how can dads assume the full role of fatherhood and maximize their positive impact on a child? Here are a few things that dads can keep in mind.
It’s very exciting that dads now have so many opportunities to play a larger role in their children’s lives – but as a father, I can understand how all of this information can be overwhelming or seem daunting. Parenting is one of the most challenging parts of life, and if it all starts to feel like too much, therapy can help. I’ve worked with countless fathers and couples to help them get through the difficulties of parenting. You can count on me to receive your concerns, thoughts, and feelings with compassion and non-judgmental understanding while at the same time providing you with the tools you need to become the parent you want to be!