Setting priorities for a happy fatherhood


The NCC wanted to know what really makes a father happy as part of its ongoing campaign of promoting the value of happiness . And the answer seems to indicate that millions of fathers across the world agree  that their children make them happy.

Most fathers love their children – they talk about them to anyone who cares to listen and show photographs, put collages of their children’s drawings on refrigerators, office walls and spend quality time with them because it makes them feel great.
Recently at one of the council’s parenting workshop, one father shared with the other parents a sublime  experience of involved fatherhood: “I arrived  home late that day feeling really tired and grumpy but everything  changed when my three-year-old daughter looked up from the mess she was making in her plate of rice and fish and told me:  ‘Mon kontan ou, dadi’  with a big smile. These words evaporated all my tiredness and I kissed her and told her she meant everything to me.

This incident made me feel so good, really good that it crowded out every other source of other pleasures in my life and I found myself spending more time with my kids.  Yes, I believe my children give me a daily dose of happiness. My children make me happy.”

When fathers build strong relationships with their children and others in the family, they receive support and caring in return. Being involved in the family helps fathers enjoy a secure attachment and relationship with their children. Fathers tend to feel that they can depend on others more and can cope better with stressful situations both at work and at home.  The benefits of having a father involved in raising children are numerous and researchers studying the issue for decades have found out that:

• Fathers who are involved in their children's schools and academic achievement, regardless of their own educational level, are increasing the chances their child will graduate from secondary school, and  go on to further their education, even up to university level.

• A fathers' involvement in children's school activities protects at-risk children from failing or dropping out.
• Positive father involvement decreases boys' problem behaviours (especially boys with more challenging temperaments) and better mental health for girls.

• Fathers who are more involved with their children tend to raise children who experience more success in their career.
• Fathers being involved in their children's lives protects against risk factors that pose harm for children (such as problematic behaviour, maternal depression and family economic hardship).

• Father involvement is associated with promoting children's social and language skills.
• Involved fathering is related to lower rates of child problem behaviours, including hyperactivity, as well as reduced teen violence, delinquency, and other problems with the law.

• Father involvement is associated with positive child characteristics such as increased empathy, self-esteem, self-control, feelings of ability to achieve, psychological well-being, social competence, life skills, and less sex-stereotyped beliefs.

• Children who grow up in homes with involved fathers are more likely to take an active and positive role in raising their own families. For example, fathers who recall a secure, loving relationship with both parents are more involved in the lives of their infants and more supportive to their wives.

• Both men and women who remember having loving, supportive fathers had high life satisfaction and self-esteem.
(Facts gathered from: Bronte-Tinkew et al., 2008; Chang et al., 2008; Flouri, 2008; Lamb & Lewis, 2004;) 
So fathers take a deep look at yourselves. Are you present both emotionally and physically?  If you have, then you might discover that you have been enjoying some of the benefits listed above without really noticing it. Sometimes being an involved father takes hard work and setting priorities. Don't forget to stop and look around once in awhile to see all that you are getting in return. Happy Father’s Day!

Contributed by the National Council for Children

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