The One Reason Fathers Should Spend More Time With Their Kids

The effect of dads on the mental well-being of your child analysed by an expert- this one is an eye-opener.

This article has been written by Dr Santosh N, MBBS, MD, Consultant Neonatologist & Paediatrician, Apollo Cradle Jayanagar

Fathers occupy a critical place in every child’s development. Findings from the science of early childhood and early brain development show that being positively engaged early in their children’s lives leads to a positive, lifelong impact that fathers can have on children.

The effect on a new-born: 

Even before a child is born, the father’s attitude regarding the pregnancy, misbehaviour during the prenatal period, and the sour relationship between the father and mother may indirectly affect the baby or have adverse effects during childbirth.

A father’s involvement during the infant stage can influence positive health outcomes in newborns such as improved breastfeeding and impressive weight-gain in premature babies. Repeated studies have shown that the absence of a father’s engagement in a child’s life is detrimental to the overall healthy growth of the child – physical as well as psychological.

As kids grow older:

  • For young boys, qualitative engagement with their father reduces the frequency of behavioural problems.
  • For young girls, it is known to reduce psychological problems and likelihood of depression when engagement with their father is better.
  • Children who’ve had underdeveloped relationships with their father may experience difficulties in developing productive, healthy relationships in life.
  • Children whose fathers are involved in their day-to-day activities are less likely to act out in school or engage in risky behaviour during adolescence.
  • It is observed that when a father’s involvement with his child is more, children tend to grow to have higher levels of sociability, confidence and self-control.

What a father's absence can do to your child:

Children who grow up without getting their father’s attention are known to have behavioural problems and find it difficult to adjust socially and are more likely to have issues with friendship. They may develop certain physical health disorders and may have psychosomatic health issues and illnesses such as acute and chronic pain, asthma, headache, stomach ache and so on. Absence of a father in a child’s life may also lead to certain mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression and suicidal tendencies. They might develop an intimidating personality in an attempt to disguise their underlying fears, anxieties, resentments and overall unhappiness.

Why the parent-child bonding is crucial: 

Studies have shown that a father’s parenting stress has harmful effects on the child’s cognitive and language development skills. Also, the father’s mental health has long-term consequences affecting the social skills of children such as self-control and cooperation. 

Empowering fathers to be knowledgeable, active and emotionally engaging with their children will improve the health and well-being of children and the family as well. Mothers and fathers have different styles of communicating and relating to their children and both play a unique and vital role in child development.

The emotional effects of having an active, lively and engaging personality as your father are noteworthy. Children who grow up under the care of such individuals are more likely to have an improved ability to handle stress. A father’s healthy engagement with his daughter reduces psychological problems and brings down the rate of depression in young women. On the contrary, a father who is psychologically and emotionally disconnected from his child causes an inability for the child to handle emotions and manage stress and has a long-lasting implication on the child’s overall development.

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