HOUSTON - On this Father's Day, we honor dads and the role they and other father figures have in our lives.
A report in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics shows father involvement means better outcomes for children, such as:
- Reduced behavioral problems in boys
- Decreased psychological problems in girls
- Decreased in teen pregnancy
- Less depressive symptoms among their adolescent children of either gender
Dr. Bernadette Smith of Aspen Counseling and Wellness says the fathers or father figures can look different in every family.
"Engaged and involved versus present can have a positive impact on one's emotional and mental health," Dr. Smith said. "As well as continuing to create secure attachments in knowing that they have that place of love and safety as well"
As research into fatherhood expands, it suggests better cognitive development and less risky behaviors in children with engaged fathers or father figures in their lives among other benefits. That's why Dr. Smith says building a relationship early can be simple and fun.
"One of the most common ones we see is play," she explained. "Involvement can look like being actively involved in their school assignments, involvement and engagement can look like at the dinner table, actively having conversations about one's day or would you rather type questions that might be appropriate with children would you rather be a duck or a cow, right?"
A study by Brigham Young University found fathers involved in the leisure and daily routines had a significant impact on the relationship with their children regardless of the family's socioeconomic factors or the family structure like marital status.
Those activities include eating meals together at home, playing in the park or yard, going on walks, reading books, or watching movies together.
Admittedly, Dr. Smith adds parenthood is hard, but it's okay to reach out for help.
"Sometimes when I'm working with fathers. they identify you know, I didn't necessarily have the most positive experience. they know they want to do something better and they know they want to do something different in their fatherhood," Dr. Smith said. "it's okay to reach out for support. it's okay to reach out to your friends. it's okay to reach out to other fathers who you might look up to and it's also okay to seek out that mental health support to help you identify one, what are those roadblocks that are preventing you from breaking those patterns in our things that we adopt 31 but then also what are new ways that you can develop positive ways, positive parenting techniques so then you can positively influence your child's development."