Some recent research points to an action point that may seem simple, but it isn’t easy.
The study, published in the Journal of Communication and Religion, cites numerous studies indicating that a child’s relationship with his or her parents is the single most important factor in predicting that child’s long-term happiness, adjustment, development, educational attainment, and success. So, the best thing we can do as fathers is really work on our relationships with our children. More about the study.
While there’s a lot more to being a good dad, building a strong relationship with our children starts with spending time with them. We all know it; we could all come up with this suggestion in a matter of seconds. For most of us, the more difficult part is the commitment to be involved and the ability to maintain that motivation.
Success is all about our attitude toward our children. We need to start approaching every interaction with a child as an opportunity for quality time, whether we’re playing laser tag, getting ice cream, or just doing the dishes together. We can have fun and really connect with our kids no matter what the activity.
Another key finding of the study draws attention to the opposite-sex parent relationships: fathers and daughters, mothers and sons. While all family interaction is critical, “the opposite-sex parent is especially important in making children feel validated and encouraged.”
As fathers, we tend to spend more time with our sons, but the researchers found that the father-daughter connection is one of the most important of all. We influence our daughters’ future intimate relationships, their confidence and success in education and career pursuits, their self-reliance, and so much more.
Dad, it’s worth your effort to stretch some, show interest in what she enjoys, encourage her and challenge her. Your daughter’s self-esteem depends on how you treat her—probably more than anyone else in her life. When you express love for her, recognize her beauty, and affirm her for her gifts and abilities, that greatly increases the likelihood that she’ll fully develop her potential and confidence.
- Brainstorm with your family about the upcoming year. What would they like to do? Where would they like to go?
- Schedule a date night with your daughter—and encourage your wife to do the same with your son.
- Block off time on your calendar to have lunch with your child regularly, whether she’s two, ten, or twenty-two.
- Commit yourself to sending your child notes of encouragement—written, texted, or e-mailed—on a regular basis.
- Share ideas with your children’s mom about how she can encourage and affirm your son. Ask for her feedback on your relationship with your daughter as well.