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Breaking the Cycle of Uninvolved Fathers

Over the years, there has been a substantial interest in the role that fathers play in the lives of their children. Consider the following points: Children who feel a closeness and warmth with their father are significantly more likely to enter college, significantly less likely to have a child in their teen years, be incarcerated, and show various signs of depression. The likelihood that a young male will engage in criminal activity is significant if he is raised without a father and even more likely if he lives in a neighborhood with a high concentration of fatherless families.

Father involvement is a significant factor in developing empathy. Children of involved fathers are less likely to live in poverty, more likely to receive healthcare, and less likely to be injured. More recent information has found that father involvement is just as important for the behavioral outcomes of boys as girls. If one or both of your parents was less than adequate, this situation does not have to impact your own parenting. It is possible to break the cycle of dysfunction or uninvolvement. Fathers who are deprived of good fathers in their own lives are sometimes able to respond by doing a better job in their own parenting roles.

Also, fathers who simply believe in the importance of fatherhood are more involved fathers. To be able to break the cycle, it can be helpful for fathers to reflect on how they perceived the role of the father growing up, and now as an adult. It may be that the father is acting as an involved father according to his perception. An example is the father who works two jobs in order to support his family, yet rarely is able to spend time with his children. Another crucial step is for fathers to be able to see the strengths of his children.

Sometimes fathers view the success or perceived inadequacies of a child as a reflection of themselves, this is particularly true for a first born male child. Mothers can help by pointing out the individual strengths of each child and collecting a visual record of each child's growth and development. Just as in an airplane, fathers and mothers need to take care of themselves physically, spiritually and emotionally, before they can completely care for the rest of the family. While there needs to be balance, everyone needs some respite and time to rejuvenate themselves. Friends are an invaluable commodity; often better than therapy. For fathers, sharing of feelings is often through another activity like poker or watching sports.

Finally, both mothers and fathers need to recognize that each has a unique but crucial role in the development of their children.

By Christoher Auer, MA. Christopher is the author of Parenting a Child with Sensory Processing Disorder (New Harbinger, 2006) more information at http://www.spdresources.com

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