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Involved dads matter…the data

The Indiana Youth Institute reports the impact of a father’s participation in his child/family life.  Having an involved father meant one who reads to his child, goes on outings with him/her, takes interest in understanding their interests, and takes an equal role in parenting. This type of involvement for a dad appears to support the following outcomes:

Their children form better relationships, have less psychological distress, maintain healthier self esteem, exhibit empathy and positive social behavior, are likely to avoid high risk behaviors (such as drugs, truancy and criminal activity).

They found the following statistics too; 85% of youth in prison come from homes without involved fathers, as do 75% of high school dropouts and 63% of teen suicides.

You may say your child’s life dependence on your presents and participation!

Two important points to make from my anecdotal experience with my work at the Fathers’ Forum Programs.

1. It is not just the father being “around” that is important but one who connects     (attaches)  with his child. This is a form of empathy or “emotional attunement.”  For what dads can do during the First Twelve Months of Fatherhood see this section of Fathers’ Forum Online.

2. Having an emotionally engaged relationship with a spouse or partner.

3. Single parents whether just a mom or just a dad can raise healthy, emotionally well balanced and integrated children.  They must be well balanced themselves emotionally and be able to recruit other adults (friends and family) that can contribute to their child’s life experiences.  “It takes a village to raise a child!”

If you are in a fathers group or lead one you may consider discussing this data with the dads!

The New Dad Times mission…& getting ready for Thanksgiving

I have been trying to find the direction or the mission my blog is on. I think I have found it! This blog is for expectant and new dads…interesting information (hopefully) on fatherhood.  It will be especially helpful for men who facilitate “father’s groups” or dads who are in father’s groups.

For 25 years I have been facilitating “Men’s Group for Fathers of Young Children.” Seven dads in each group all with kids from 1 month up to 5 years old. For more information on these groups visit the Fathers’ Forum Online.  On Thursday’s I will write about some of the themes from the group. On Monday’s there will be a guest blog.  (If you are a daddy blogger and would like one of your post’s to include as a guest post, please contact me.)The weekend post will share something from the current research or writing on the changing trends in fatherhood.

Last night at the Fathers’ Forum  we took up the theme of Thanksgiving and the dads reflected on what they were thankful for. Of course everyone said especially for having their child and the opportunity to be a dad. As we talked further the dads became aware of how appreciative they were of their wives. How their relationship with them was so special as they developed as a family.  They all agreed at their Thanksgiving dinners they would ask everyone who wanted to, to speak about what they were thankful for this year. They all agreed how they want to make sure everyone at their dinners knew how thankful they were to their wives.

I would encourage all of you who are reading this to consider trying this for Thanksgiving too.

Another theme we discussed last night was what we learned about being a father from our children? We became aware that one of the ways we learn to be a dad is from our kids. The week before we were all talking about how our  fathers had influenced us. It was insightful for us to recognize how children also show us something about who we are and what we need to be/do as a dad. Some of the responses about what are kids taught us were;  patience, intimacy, emotionality, fear and joy.

Think about it…how would you answer the question; “What has my child taught me about being a father?

For more themes to consider for discussion in your dads group…check out the Articles Section at the Fathers’ Forum Reading Room.


Guest Post… DaddyHD from the UK…When do we spill the beans?

Nick Harris-Dobson, is 25 and expecting his first child…you can read about his adventures at DaddyHD. Here is a great recent post from his blog.

“When do we Spill the Beans?”

I’m sure this has been the center of many arguments in expectant parents. Some couples will want to share their news immediately, whereas others will want to hold out until that 12 week mark (this is that milestone I mentioned in my first post).

The reason couples hold out until that 12 week point has passed (or the end of the first trimester), is that experts and medical professionals alike say that the first 12 weeks are a where a mother is at the highest risk of miscarriage. It’s definitely not a pleasant subject, and it is upsetting for all involved, none more so than the expectant parents, so I won’t go into any further detail, I’m sure we all know what a miscarriage is.

Whichever way has been decided, the next step is the same for almost all couples, telling only close family and the best of friends. It is usually then decided that everyone else can wait until either, a; they notice a baby-bump starting to grow and finally pluck up the courage to ask if it’s a baby or sudden weight gain (they’d be braver than me if they asked that one) or b; it slip’s from either the couple’s mouth’s, or one of the family / friends who have already been privileged to the news.

If however you’re like me, you will get shouted out more than once for telling people before you’re supposed to. I just couldn’t contain myself! Once I knew I was going to be a father that was it, I wanted the world and his dog to know! To give me an ounce of credit, I did tell immediate family and friends before anyone else, as we’d agreed.. however.. I did then carry on telling further friends and close work colleagues before we reached the 12 week milestone. A number of things may get you out of trouble; flowers and chocolate may work if your significant other is that way inclined, but for me i think it was agreeing we should look at buying her a bigger car, so that we didn’t have to struggle getting the baby in and out the back of her current car, a 3-door Fiat 500.

For more info about Nick, his blog and his adventures visit him at…DaddyHD.

What does it mean that so many men today are willing to make fatherhood a defining role in their life?

I often write about how fatherhood changes men. In fact I have a whole book on it! But it is an important awareness and understanding in our psychology as men that keeps me at it. In fact it may be one of the factors that may shape a more cooperative, caring and peaceful future for our children and perhaps the world. You may think I have high aspirations…I do, but I am not inflating how important it is to understand all that being a dad means in the world.

There has been much improvement in gender equality over the last 20 years. Yet, what men do still seems to carry a quality of “extra” importance. Unfortunately, many of our social and political institutions perpetuate this. When a dad changes a diaper it seems like a great act of involved parenting and what a good man he is!  Even though a mother can change 30 diapers a day and no one says diddle…  It seems that the culture says…”when a man does it, it is important”….

In the dads group I facilitate the theme of raising the status of parenthood for men is the focus. If the culture says what men spend their time doing is important…then if we are active participants in our children’s lives what does that say to our children…that they are important! I think this is the trend for us here in the USA,  to begin to re-prioritize what the value of family is. Why would this be happening?

I think we have come to the tail end of the Industrial Revolution’s benefits. That money and things generated by our 60 hour work weeks will lead to a meaningful life is in question.  That men believe “whoever dies with the most toys wins” or my work is my identity, seems to be more and more hollow in understanding what is worthwhile in life.

As the Women’s Movement supported women in the world of work there came a need and opportunity for men/dads to be involved in home life and the caring of our children. I think this social change has led to something extraordinary and profound for men.  Not all, but many men grow up believing they have to do it all on their own. No one can help and the “hallmark” of their masculinity is independence.

I remember, in my own psychotherapy, telling my analyst about some of the difficulties in my marriage. I ended my comments by saying “but I don’t want you think that I am just a needy guy”…at which he said “all of the needs you just expressed are what make you most human…you need to be able to depend on other people.”

If in our journey as men we get our normal need to depend on others “socialized” out of us on the alter of “being a man” how do we return to that most tender and human part of our selves?

It is my belief, and from my research it appears, fatherhood is one of the ways men discover or re-discover the deep masculine of their dependent and interdependent selves. Taking care of your child’s basic needs, feeding him/her and responding to her/his smiles and cries changes your whole relationship with the world. Nurturing and caring for our families allows us to begin to do that on a larger stage as we interact with the world.  Fatherhood connects us to a tenderness and generosity in a world that goes beyond our own needs. This is the big shift I see in men when they become dads. It is the power of our children to re-awaken in us the vulnerable and tender parts that the harshness of life can so often drown out.

It was only about 40 years ago that dads began attending the births of their children.  Now it is commonplace for the dad to be in the delivery room. The revolution has begun. Men now desire to be in the day to day life of their children and family right from the start. They no longer feel that “bringing home the bread” is their only role…they want to sit down at the table and “share the bread” with their family. As men struggle with the balance of work and family life….difficult as it may be…they begin to create a new possibility for not just their children and wives but for our society too.