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Take Time to Bond with Your Kids

Historically, moms have been considered the emotional, nurturing center of the family unit while dads mostly brought home the proverbial bacon and meted out discipline when necessary. Dads' impact on their children's development and emotional health wasn't given much thought or weight. But scientists have begun to study the role of dads in the family and have discovered they have a much greater impact on their children than previously thought.

Research on family dynamics has tended to focus on mother-child relationships. But recent studies on father-child relationships have revealed that dads are just as important to the emotional well-being and adjustment of their kids, especially when it comes to father-daughter relationships. In fact, a good predictor of an adolescent girl's mental health is her relationship with her father. According to Dr. Obie Clayton, professor of Sociology at Morehouse College, "Kids tend to perform better when fathers interact with them on a regular basis…[they] have fewer disciplinary problems in school and they're less likely to use drugs and alcohol." He adds, "The effect that fathers have on daughters is extremely strong, even more so than for boys. When fathers interact with their daughters, those girls...learn through that father how men should treat them."

Fathers' interaction with their kids tends to be more physical, playful and humorous and less intimate, which researchers believe to be critical in teaching a child emotional self-control. These interactions also appear to be important in the development of a child's ability to maintain strong, fulfilling relationships later in life. But as more fathers take on a greater share of the child-rearing responsibilities, they are becoming more comfortable with being nurturers and not just buddies or conspirators in mischief and play.

So take time to bond with your kids! Here are some great ways to fit in some quality time into your busy schedule:

  • Limit work on weekends, holidays, vacations. Your physical presence at home is not enough - your attention must be on the kids, not on your computer, spreadsheet, cell phone or Blackberry. Turn them off, put them away, tell your co-workers and/or boss that you'll be unreachable. Then enjoy the freedom and play with your kids!

  • Remember board games, tossing around a ball and other activities not based on technology? Turn off the TV and the Internet and dust off the old Monopoly or Scrabble game or get outside and toss around a ball or frisbee. Playing games with your kids is a fun way to spend time together, provides a great opportunity to have real conversations, and make lasting memories.

  • Sit down to dinner, together. Make family dinner a priority, despite everyone's hectic and variable schedules. Even if you order in pizza, sit down at the table together, turn off the TV, and talk.

  • Get involved. Volunteer with the PTA, help coach your daughter's soccer team, and attend as many plays, concerts, or games your child is in. Show them they are a priority in your life.

Childhood is a great opportunity for you to really get to know and love your kids, so take advantage of this special time in your child's life and help shape their future!



Featured Sites:

Cord Blood Registry
March of Dimes
Susan G. Komen

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