Fathers are Important to their Children’s Development!

Years ago in graduate school I wrote a paper about the importance of a father on a daughter’s development. This topic was important to me because I knew that my own father had a very positive influence on my life. And raising two young daughters at that time, I felt compelled to stress the value of the role of father to my husband — who tended to listen more carefully to words loaded with expert citations than the words of his wife. The carefully researched paper got his attention, thankfully. He is a good dad to our girls.

But in doing my research on fathers and daughters I found myself frustrated, because frankly, there wasn’t much about it at the time. The literature back in the 1990s and before was exclusively focused on mothers and mothering. Hardly a word about the importance of dad on a child’s life! But here is some of what I did find…

… Although the toddler daughter may require a certain amount of tender nurturing from the father in order to be able to utilize his encouragement of mastery or independence, she is also apt to look to him for both special caring and protective powers in the face of the unfamiliar or threatening. (3 a.m.Protect me from the spiders under my bed, daddy!)

The fathers’ involvement in the daughter’s autonomous capabilities continues to be important in later childhood and adolescence. More salient than a distant pride in her achievement is his willingness to involve himself in the process. (Tell me about your Science Fair project… It amazes me how easily you can play your violin!) Such involvement provides a viable foundation for a continued good relationship during adolescence, when the more powerful force of sexuality and the struggle to affirm a more separate identity necessitate a greater distance between them in other areas.

Women who emphasize their father’s contributions to their enthusiasm in work usually stress the following aspects of their relationship: his treatment of her as an interesting person in her own right; his trust in her developing autonomous capacities during joint endeavors; his own capacity for excitement or enthusiasm about discovery in work or play; his invitation to her to participate in areas of mastery with him; and the emulated quality of his relationship to others, such as colleagues or friends, associated with work in the outside world. (My heart is filled with pride when my husband introduces our daughters to his professional colleagues and friends. It shows admiration and respect that is much deserved.) The particular area of interest developed by the daughter is not necessarily shared by the father. Young women are apt to draw on their experience of such an encouraging affective engagement involving initiative and mastery in work in order to seek out a mentor who might also appreciate these qualities, but in a quite different area of interest (Tessman, 1982)…

Recent research, fortunately, looks more specifically at how a father influences a child’s development.

Check out this good article looking at what the current research tells us about the importance of dad in the life of his children…


The great emphasis on mothers and mothering in American has led to an inappropriate tendency to blame mothers for children’s behavior problems and maladjustments when, in fact, fathers are often more implicated than mothers in the development of problems such as these.”


www.medicalnewstoday.com , June 14, 2012.

Posted in Adolescence, Behavior Challenges, Elementary School Child, Infants, Learning Difficulties, Marriage, Middle Childhood, Parenting, Relationships, Toddlers & Preschoolers, Work & Family | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Kids Think About School

It is that old familiar back-to-school season… Everyone is anxious in anticipation of a new school year…

The classroom is second only to the home in the important tasks of teaching young people cooperation, developing good moral habits, conveying a sense of responsibility, and instilling a love of learning. Good schools succeed at this and, almost without exception, they have three things in common:

1. caring, well-trained teachers
2. courageous principals who let the teachers teach
3. parents and communities that get invovled with school programs and activities

It’s hard to overestimate the influnce a good teacher has on the development of a child. One friend in education has told me, “Good teachers don’t just teach lessons; they have lessons to teach.” It is those life lessons that children remember for a long time. Our teachers should be rewarded, honored, and cherished, and we need to do all we can to ensure that they have adequate resources and support and are well paid. What does it say about our priorites when the least successful professional athletes make more moeny than our best teachers?

One of my favorite “coffee table” books is H. Jackson Brown, Jr.’s “Wit and Wisdom From the Peanut Butter Gang.” This little book, written in 1994, is a collection of wise words from young hearts. Let me share some favorite school quotes from authors of all ages as they reflect on their school experiences…

“I was a fantastic student until ten, and then my mind began to wander.” ~Grace Paley

“Reading what people write on desks can teach you a lot.”  ~Tiffany, Age 13

“The class in school I hate the most is the one I learn the most from.”  ~Joanne, Age 10

“The boys’ restroom smells, but the girls’ restroom doesn’t.”  ~Devin, Age 10

“All the bad things I’ve head about algebra are true.”  ~Erin, Age 14

“If you read a book, it can take you to places you haven’t been before.”  ~Lindsay Ellen, Age 10

“You can’t catch a hard baseball in your mouth.”  ~Joseph, Age 10

“If you put a frog in a girl’s desk, you’re going to hear some screaming.”  ~Nicholas, Age 9

“The kind of world we live in tomorrow depends — not partially — but entirely upon the type and quality of the education of our children today.”  ~Martin Vanbee

“Making a good grade on a test you studied really hard for is a glorious feeling.”  ~Sarah, Age 12

“When I am working in class and the teacher is looking over my shoulder, I get nervous.”  ~Tina, Age 17

“When I try to be nice to my teachers because I think they deserve some respect, my friends always think I’m kissing up.”  ~Dawn, Age 14

“If I do my homework on the bus, my mom never believes me.”  ~Adam, Age 9

“When teachers get old, like over fifty-five, they’re always in a bad mood.”  ~Lindsey, Age 8

“If you do badly on a report card or test that you take home on a Friday, you should wait until Sunday night to ask your parents to sign it.”  ~Hannah, Age 14

“When you want to stay home from school, you have to stay in the bathroom a long, long time.”  ~Joseph, Age 11

“The greatest teacher is not the one who talks all the time, but the one who listens.”  ~Lauren, Age 14

“Teach your children a love of reading and you have given them a most precious gift.”  ~Roger Lewin

“Too often we give children answers to remember rather than problems to solve.”  ~Roger Lewis

Kids are wiser than we think!

Posted in Adolescence, Anxiety & Stress, Behavior Challenges, Elementary School Child, Learning Difficulties, Middle Childhood, Parenting, Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Storing Those Treasures Made by Our Kids!

Must confess that I am one of those moms who have saved way too many of her kid’s artwork projects over the years…  Two daughters, and an entire closet, almost floor to ceiling filled with boxes, labeled carefully with name, age, location, and year… I know, a bit much…  But I can get away with it at our house because I have a husband who has a rather large collection of boxes in our attic filled with college notes and beyond…  Why? Just in case he needs to refer back to them. I somehow knew that my daughters and I would one day need to refer back to their special childhood mementoes…

But back to my closet filled with the kid’s artwork…

Now that the girls are grown, the eldest, with a preschooler, I find myself occasionally hearing her family woes about what to do with all the “very special” artwork that the child brings home from school or does in the home! There isn’t enough wall space to display everything! And to a busy and excited young child EVERY creation is important and must be saved forever! Yep, heard that loud and clear long ago in my household!

So I told my daughter how my artwork management system developed. First we hung what we could where there was space in the house. The refrigerator was always covered. Then there was a rotation process that got rather complicated after awhile. And finally I picked up a nice sturdy brown box that was perfect for papers. Maybe it was two inches deep. That became what we called the special “treasure chest” for her papers. When something was deemed very important yet had to come down from the wall or fridge to make way for something new, it was lovingly placed in the “treasure chest.” In a few months we filled the first box. I found another. It was four inches deep. That one lasted about a year. Every year another box or two was added to the collection. I have enough boxes for both daughters all the way through college!

As the girls got older there were fewer art projects, more papers, report cards, awards, newspaper clippings, photos, silly notes we wrote each other, prom napkins, and concert or play, or dance recital programs. Graduation announcements, too!

My daughter and her family were visiting a few weeks ago and I decided it was time to start going through some of those boxes and turning those treasures over to her.  We made it through only one box that parallels the age of my granddaughter. I plan to take two more along to share during our next visit. Looking through these treasures was not only was special to me and my daughter, but young granddaughter was quite impressed with how many nice things her mom had made when she was 3! I think those quiet moments we shared added a magical dimension to their sweet mother-daughter relationship…   So, I conclude it was definitely worth saving those papers and boxes all these years, moving them from one home to another several times! Sharing them in the months and years ahead will bring us much delight and allow our family to reflect on and share so many memories!


In the very first box that my daughter and I went though I was surprised to discover a college paper I had written during that year my daughter was 2-3 asking me to talk about my home management systems, and how they did or did not work. It was a Home Economics class and the paper was tied to a unit on household management, assessing values, goals, and priorities, and applying that to my environment. I laugh reading it as so much has changed, yet so many things have not!

So, in my next post I will flash back some 29 years and share with you some of what I wrote in that paper!  Stay tuned…

Posted in Anxiety & Stress, Infants, It's All Bubba's Fault, Marriage, Parenting, Relationships, Self-Care, Toddlers & Preschoolers, Work & Family | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment