Why Fathers Count

A loving dad can make all the difference in a child's life.
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Making a Difference

Most research on child rearing has focused on the mother/child relationship, relegating fathers to the proverbial backseat. Yet, the few studies that do exist on the role of fathers underscore their importance.

When fathers function as active parents, the studies show, their children tend to be more self-confident. They are more adaptable, outgoing, and independent. They possess better social skills, exhibit fewer behavior problems, and do better in school. As teens, these kids are less likely to have problems with sex, drugs, or alcohol than children whose dads sit on the sidelines.

The operative concept in these studies is fathers who are actively involved. My wife, Willie, and I had to learn that the hard way.

For a time when our children were young, I served merely as a parenting aide. Like a classroom in which there is a teacher and a teacher's aide, our home had a real, honest-to-goodness parent -- my wife -- and her parenting aide -- me.

I would come home from work in the late afternoon to find Willie (a) exhausted from taking care of children all day long, (b) at the end of her rope concerning the children's antics, (c) mad at me for being at work during the day, or (d) all of the above.

Sensing imminent homicide, I'd put down my briefcase and say, "Just tell me what to do, honey." The parenting aide can't figure things out for himself.

Even when Willie went out, I retained the role of aide. We said I was "baby-sitting" or just "sitting." But when Willie was alone with the children, we said she was home with the children.

The parenting aide just stays with the kids every now and then to give their real parent a break. When the children asked me for something, I'd say, "Go ask your mother." When there were teacher conferences, Willie attended and gave me a report.

Written by - John Rosemond Illustrator - Steve Bjorkman

Continued on page 2:  Advice for Parents


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