A Letter to Dad on Father’s Day


Father’s Day is here, and once again it’s time to fire up the grill and set up the badminton net. We love and appreciate you for a whole bunch of reasons, not the least of which is your ability to repair a flat bike tire and the way you help us solve those algebra problems. But aside from those little daily miracles, is there a larger, perhaps more important, reason we love our dad? You bet. You are so much more.

We recently read a book by Dr. Jenn Berman, called “The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy, Confident Kids,” (2007, New World Library). Through the author’s research, she discovered some pretty cool findings regarding dads and their kids. Consider this:

· Infants who spend time alone with their dads show more varied social and exploratory behavior than other children, are more curious and are better at dealing with stressful situations.
· 1-year-olds whose fathers are more involved protest separations from their parents less than those with more absent dads.
· Babies whose fathers play with them regularly become better problem-solvers as toddlers.
· Children with involved fathers show greater cognitive aptitude and on average score six points higher on IQ tests.
· Daughters with involved fathers score higher on math competency tests.
· Sons with fathers who take responsibility with limit setting and discipline and who help them with personal problems and school work display a greater capacity for empathy.
· Children whose fathers perform 40 percent or more of the child care engage in less gender-role stereotyping.
· Teenagers who live in two-parent families and have good relationships with their dads are at a 40 percent lower risk of smoking, drinking and using drugs than teens from single-parent households.
· Children who feel close to their fathers are twice as likely as those who do not to enter college or to find stable employment after high school, 75 percent less likely to become pregnant as teenagers, 80 percent less likely to spend time in jail and half as likely to experience depression.

No wonder we celebrate Father’s Day! So, dads are important. Very important. But is it enough that fathers just show up? Is the occasional toss of the football, the trip to the mall, the sharing of a joke enough? It’s a good start. But it turns out that fathers are able to do so much more. We found another interesting book called “The Everything Father’s First Year Book,” (2005, F + W Publications) by Dr. Vincent Iannelli. He suggests: “It usually isn’t about how much money you make, all the things you can buy your family, or how successful you are at work. It’s more about being available and supporting your family with your love and attention.”

Specifically, he lists the following qualities in a good father:
· Understanding your child’s needs
· Offering unconditional love
· Having patience
· Being generous with your time
· Setting a good example
· Staying calm and learning to teach when you discipline (rather than just punishing)
· Being responsible with your family’s money

And of course that describes you perfectly. And what can we do to help you continue to be the best father you can be? Well, for starters we can and will support you and thank you for all the ways you are a good father. We’ll thank you for your unconditional love, for setting a good example and for being so generous with your time.

If you’re asking to be an even better dad, we’ve got a list of book titles and Web sites we’ve collected just for you. For today, let’s sit back and watch the game or ride a bike or just relax. You’re an incredibly important person in our lives. It’s time we let you know it.

Mom and the kids

Martha Wegner is a freelance writer and mother of two.

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