A nurturing father has a positive influence on his children’s development but only if he spends a considerable amount of time with the child during its first year. This is the unexpected twist in a new study that comes to add interesting information to this father-children equation and give parents and experts alike new food for thought.
Kristin Berg Nordahl of the University of Bergen, is involved in a major project at The Norwegian Centre for Child Behavioural Development where she found that children whose fathers were less attentive and their interaction less positive had poor social competence at the age of 3 and more uncontrollable behaviour.
Positive and regular interaction is what makes the difference when it comes to a father’s influence which is characterised by ‘a responsive dad who is sensitive and pays attention to the child’s signals. It is about seeing and communicating well with the child. In the interaction with a one-year-old this might mean that the father is patient, that he pays attention to what the child is interested in and perhaps initiates playing this is needed.’
She states: “More time with dad seems to have positive effects on the child’s social development as long as this time is characterised by positive interaction. Fathers should be entitled to spend more time with their children, and they should be entitled to guidance in order to enhance the quality of the interaction between father and child.”
Should the dads who haven’t perfected their fatherly role during the first year of their childrens lives feel guilty or incompetent? Emotionally Intelligent dads can greatly affect their offspring’s positive development throughout their lives. A wake up call, yes, but not the end of the world.