What the Research tells us . . . some ideas to consider for New Parents
Children with involved fathers are more cognitively competent at six months, better problem-solvers as toddlers, and have higher IQ’s by age three.
A father’s involvement affects a mother’s physical and emotional health. When dads are emotionally supportive, moms report a greater sense of well-being. Furthermore, supported moms, are more likely to maintain healthy pregnancy behaviors, which impacts mother and baby.
A great body of research over the last several decades supports the impact of a father’s involvement on his child’s development. Infants with involved fathers are better able to handle unfamiliar situations, demonstrate resilience in stressful situations, are more eager and naturally curious to explore environments, relate more effectively to strangers, and are more trusting in exploring their world.
It’s important for new moms to keep in mind that new dads may approach parenting differently. Different isn’t bad, it’s just different. Many men report feeing uncertain, incompetent, and “on the outside” of the parenting journey in the early months. So many of a baby’s basic needs can be met through the mother – delivery, nursing, comforting, etc. It’s important to communicate well, problem-solve, encourage one another and create a supportive environment for parenting. Research identifies that when mothers see their spouses as competent, believe parenting to be a joint venture, and offer encouragement, men are more likely to be involved, engaged and report higher levels of satisfaction and comfort in the paternal role. When fathers offer support and encouragement, mothers identify themselves as more competent parents – responsive, patient, positive, flexible and available.
A positive co-parenting relationship models vital relational skills for kids to use in their own relationships. Skills such as resolving conflict, open communication, offering respect, and providing support.
Allen, S., and Daly, K. (2007) “The Effects of Father Involvement: An Updated Research Summary of the Evidence.” Report by Centre for Families, Work & Well-Being, University of Guelph, 1-53.