Friday, June 19, 2015

Happy Father's Day! How important are dads in the lives of children?

Happy Father's Day to all the father's out there, the known and the unrecognized fathers! There are obvious fathers and then there are men who are mentoring other fatherless children, men who desired to be fathers and did not have that reality come true for them, fathers who never got a change to be a father to a child born to a single mother, uncles and grandfathers who lived dual roles in the lives of children.   I have been privileged to study fathers and when I say this, it was an honor to have the men who participated in my original parent study open up to me candidly. I am forever grateful to have had that opportunity. The first of three articles is going to print and will be published by the end of the summer. I look forward to submitting the other three. This is just the beginning as I move forward seeking funding to continue this research near my home in Gadsden County Florida. I desire to continue this work on a larger scale. I am also grateful to researchers who have gone before, such as Andrea Doucet whose work she published in a groundbreaking book titled, "Do Men Mother?" While the title of the book offends some the content of the book her writings of over 20 years of research gathering men's stories in her qualitative studies is illuminating. I read it slowly absorbing all the nuances of the patterns she has illuminated. Most recently, what I read was that yes, fathers engage differently with their children than mothers. While we as moms seek to nurture and protect it is the fathers, the men in our children's lives who support them in stretching themselves to find their boundaries in their risk taking activities. Further supporting that children benefit greatly from both feminine and a masculine perspectives.

My TEDxTalk is about research I conducted at Florida State University. I will give a brief overview, as the many benefits that fathers and their perceptions of the benefits to their babies, were discussed in detail on the National Fatherhood (click here) blogI taught fathers infant massage and then gathered data through video taping, interviews and diaries fathers kept while massaging their infants throughout the study. What I learned while writing up the research and from fathers outside of the research who spoke with me about the topic was as valuable as the actual research.Watch the video for illuminating details.

Positive child outcomes establish the critical need for both female and male role models in a child's life. As a society, when we treat men like they are outsiders and the babies as exclusively the mothers' domain, then, we do children and fathers a disservice. Considering how they were deprived of fathering play as children (dolls were off limits) and deprived of dual custody, based upon gender rather than merit, it most certainly has been the child that suffered. Fathers who participate in child care classes spend more quality time with their babies and report feeling confident and competent in their role as a father. Both competency and confidence are scientific indicators of long term involvement in the lives of their children.  After publishing articles on this research I wrote the first of many books to come and published it on Amazon, "Hassle Free Bedtime," that includes information from my research and the research of others to support fathers in their journey of acquiring new skills. 

Caution on "our parental rights."

Children have a need to be protected from exposure to violence. Neither gender has a right to expose a child to neglect or violence or sexual exploitation as children require a higher standard of responsibility because they are developing and vulnerable. Any parent who claims a right to raise a child or be in the life of the child and who has exposed a child to violence or sexual exploitation has a higher responsibility to seek treatment before expecting access to their child. Children are not our property, they are a gift to be nurtured and loved. It is through this process that we become better human beings.  

TEDxTallahassee 2015

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