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  • What Needs to Be Said: Dads Are Just as Important as Moms. Let Us Count the Ways

    Fathers has significant impact in their child's language and cognitive development during the toddler years.
    by Kate Borbon .
What Needs to Be Said: Dads Are Just as Important as Moms. Let Us Count the Ways
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  • We’ve stressed many times before how important and special the bond is between a mother and her child. But a dad's presence and involvement are just as crucial, not only in ensuring that a child feels secure and aware that she is loved, but that she also develops healthily as she grows older.

    A 2016 study from Michigan State University found that fathers play a huge role in the development of their children in areas such as language and cognitive growth during the toddler years, as well as social skills in the fifth grade. The study was published online in the journals Early Childhood Research Quarterly and Infant and Child Development.

    The researchers gleaned their findings from surveys answered by more than 700 families across the United States. They looked into the effects of parents’ stress and mental health-related issues on children since these two factors have a bearing on childhood development as well.

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    Based on the data they collected, the researchers found that parenting-related stress that fathers experience can negatively affect their kids’ cognitive and language development at around 2 to 3 years of age. This link was more evident in boys than in girls, even compared to the influence of mothers’ parenting-related stress.

    Parents’ mental health was also seen to have a considerable and long-term impact on toddlers’ behavior problems. More particularly, dads’ depression symptoms were found to influence their kids’ social skills by the time they reached the fifth grade. Again, the effect of dads’ symptoms was found to be greater than that of moms’ symptoms.

    How dads help kids develop healthily

    The findings of the Michigan State University study adds to the growing research that prove the undeniable importance of fathers in their children’s lives. One previous study found that young girls who had close relationships with their dads were more likely to overcome loneliness while another showed that babies acquire their vocabulary from their dads.

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    Furthermore, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) notes that paternal involvement in a child’s upbringing was found to be associated with a decrease of high-risk behaviors, lower rates of teen pregnancy, improved cognitive development, and higher protection from depression.

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    Kids need their dad

    Though there are now many moms who choose to work and dads who are more involved in childcare, it is still more common to see the role of the father as the breadwinner, the provider of financial stability. And it's a role that finds dads missing quality time. These days, fathers are keenly aware how they need to be active and present as much as they can in their children’s lives, a point the researchers of the Michigan State University study highlighted.

    “[I]t’s not just about providing for your child economically, but also to be there for your child, to think about how stress or depression might be influencing your child,” says Tamesha Harewood, lead author of the study.

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    Another reason why kids (and moms) need dads? Dads are just as capable of taking care of children! “Both parents bring different strengths to the family,” the AAP says on their health resource website HealthyChildren.org. “Fathers, for example, tend to play in more stimulating, vigorous, and arousing ways with their children.

    “It’s not that they don’t also read, snuggle, and kiss boo-boos, but dads tend to be more rambunctious and exploratory during fun time. Fathers are important not because they are just like mothers, but because they are in some ways different.”

    So, dads, though you may be busy or tired a lot of the time, don’t forget to relax with your family every time you can!

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