Laurie Tarkan writing in a Nov. 3rd New York Times article touts a study by Sara S. McLanahan, a professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton. Called the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study it has some findings that fathers and mothers should pay attention to.
One of the findings: a mother’s support of the father turns out to be a critical factor in his involvement with his children…even if the couple is divorced. Rather than just talking about “father involvement” which we hear a lot about these days, the idea is about the involvement of the couple.
The better the couple gets along, the better it is for the child. That sounds simple, but it’s often lost sight of when adults focus on their happiness.
What does get along mean? Perhaps you can give yourself a little self quiz while you ponder these points:
*Willingness to compromise
*Expressing affection or love for your partner
*Encouraging or helping your partner do things that are important to them
*An absence of insult or criticism
When these things are happening, the father is much more likely to be engaged in the home.
Researchers Philip and Carolyn Cowan also point out that fathers have been accused of uninvolvement in their children’s lives based on a lack of motivation. But instead many societal standards have added to the problem. Family resource centers are pink with magazines geared to women, and the mother is the person approached by outside sources. The father is viewed as a secondary parent.
But the mother is very much the key in the father’s involvement. Her attitude toward the father’s bent to do things differently, to act like a father rather than a mother was a key important finding in the research. Dad’s often have a different discipline style and a different style of play. Different, not bad or worse. It’s mom’s attitude toward this that has a huge impact on dad’s involvement.
The gold standard is a mom and dad in the home, parenting together in harmony. In these homes where mom and dad are working together and dad is involved in child rearing the children were much less aggressive, hyperactive, depressed or socially withdrawn.
Sounds like another reason for mom’s and dad’s to be working on the marriage and parenting, Your kids really do benefit. Your day to day choices and behavior really do matter.
Thoughts on these thoughts? Blog!