Remember Joe Cool? During the Sixties, Joe just knew that nothing was going to overwhelm him, and if it did, well, that’s cool. This philosophy helped him to deal with every situation that came his way.
Things have changed. In the nineties, stress is the catch word. Technology allows us to get more done, and then think about how much more we could achieve. We can even get work done by phone-or-even by fax-in the car! Our expectations rise, and that’s just one of the factors that leads to more stress.
As the stress mounts, we begin reacting to the urgent issues pressing upon us - which are not always the most important ones - rather than being proactive and choosing a course of action based on the principles we believe in.
A dad who is reactive is prone to fly off the handle when one of his children makes one more request of his time. But a dad who’s proactive looks at his priorities and chooses how to act. He sees that his child is more important than the other demands, and he treats the request with patience and love. In other words, he keeps his cool.
We must keep our cool. When we lose our temper and yell at our kids, slam doors, curse, or discipline them too harshly, we’re doing damage that’s hard to overcome. We may see our error, muster up our courage and apologize; we may say it twice to make sure they understand; and our children may forgive us. Rut it takes time to truly forget -for our kids and for us.
Realize now that your family is going to occasionally put you through some emotional roller-coasters. Don’t wait until the heat of the moment. Decide now to respond with calm at your next opportunity. Your children may even say things that are designed to hurt you personally. That’s okay; stay calm. Your calmness may even teach them some important lessons on self control and character.
Is there a place for expressing outrage and emotion to our chil-dren? Certainly. But only if you’re sure that your emotion has a purpose, and it’s not just the first thing that popped into your head. Remember: don’t react. decide what’s best, anti then act.
Every child who wants a dad who’s approachable and accept-ing, who listens to his children’s concerns and remains open to their ideas. Being calm and peaceful will allow us that opportuni-ty, and it’s an opportunity that leads to the real joys and rewards of fathering
Today’s Father Magazine.
The Effects of Fatherfullness
1. According to a Gallup Poll, 90.3 percent of Americans agree that “fathers make a unique contribution to their children’s lives?’
Source: Gallup Poll, 1996. National Center for Fathering. “Father Figures.” Today’s Father 4.1 (1996)8.
2. A study on parent-infant attachment found that fathers who were affectionate, spent time with their children, and overall had a positive attitude were more likely to have securely attached infants.
Source: The National Commission on Children. “Speaking of Kids: A National Sun’ey of Children and Parents.” Washington, DC, 1991.
3. A study assessing the level of adaptation of one-year olds found that, when left with a stranger, children whose fathers were highly involved were less likely to cry, worry, or disrupt play than other one-year olds whose fathers were less involved.
Source: Kotelchuk, M. “The Infant’s Relationship to His Father: Experimental Evidence?’ The Role of the Father in Child Deretopmn en!, by Michael Lamb, 2nd ed. New York: Wiley, 1981.
4. Father-child interaction has been shown to promote a child’s physical well-being, perceptual abilities, and competency for relatedness with others, even at a young age.
Source:Kra,mpe, EM. and PD. Fairweather. “Father Presence and Family Formation: A theoretical Refornndalion.”Journal of Family Issues 14.1 (December 1993): 572-591
5. A survey of over 20,000 parents found that when fathers are involved in their children’s education including attending school meetings and volunteering at school, children were more likely to get A’s, enjoy school, and participate in extracurricular activities and less likely to have repeated a grade.
Source:Fathers’ Involvement in Their Children’s Schools. National Center for Education Statistics. Washington DC. GPO, 1997.
6. In a 26 year longitudinal study on 379 individuals, researchers found that the single most important childhood factor in developing empathy is paternal involvement. Fathers who spent time alone with their lids performing routine childcare at least two times a week, raised children who were the most compassionate adults.
Source:Koestner, Richard, Carol Franz, and Joel Weinberger. “The Family origins of Empathetic Concern: A Twenty-Six Year Longitudinal Study!’ Journal of Personality & Social Psychology 58 (1990): 709-717.
The Importance of Fathers in
Birth to age two. While many of today’s dads are very involved in parenting, the bulk of baby and toddler care is usually shouldered by mothers and other female caregivers. New fathers sometimes feel squeezed out of the tight bond that often develops between infants and their mothers. The more separate nature of the father-baby rela-tionship, however, can foster an early sense of self and other in infants. In addition, the differences in mothers’ and fathers’ styles of interaction and play with infants has developmental significance. The more intense and energetic style of father play helps babies to learn to manage feelings and to make emotional shifts between different mood states.
Two to six. For most children, their father is one of two very signif-icant adults in their lives. Since most dads and moms differ in their approaches to daily tasks like washing the dishes, driving the carpool, or helping with homework, children’s experiences and perspectives are expanded by their father’s involvement in theft lives. Different approaches to play, problem-solving and nurturing give children the opportunity to see that there’s usually more than one solution to every situation. Moreover, the presence of an active, involved father is important to the development of children’s identity. The father-child relationship can help children of both genders to develop confidence and a stronger sense of self-esteem.
Six to eleven. During the school age years. fathers are important role models for children of both genders. Through their interactions with their fathers, boys learn a realistic sense of maleness. They learn, for instance, that men can be both aggressive and gentle and that men’s roles in the world are not limited to the television models of super-heroes and superstar athletes. The father-daughter relationship helps girls to establish themselves as separate from their mother and often promotes increased self-confidence in school age girls. Boys and girls alike usually learn important lessons about aggression and self-con-trol from their fathers. Father who model how to transform the intense energy of “rough and tumble” play from aggression to self-assertion send a valuable message to their children.
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