Fathers: Talk with your children!

This item is from the New York Daily News – 18 June 2010.  Fascinating reading!

Regular Time With Dad is Key to Kids’ Happiness: Study

The key to childhood happiness might be more face time with Dad. Kids who chat regularly with their father are happier than kids who don’t, according to new research.

Children who converse with their father “most days” rated themselves 87 out of 100 on a happiness scale, while those who rarely talk to their dads scored a 79. The study results, released by the Children’s Society in Great Britain just in time for Father’s Day, called the findings “highly significant” because research has demonstrated that a person’s well-being later in life has a lot to do with their relationship with both parents during the teen years.

Of the 1,200 children in the study, who were 11 to 15, nearly 50% said they “hardly ever” talk to their dads about important subjects, as compared with just 28% who report rarely discussing important subjects with their moms.

Dads may not have as many meaningful conversations with their kids, but they tend to roughhouse with them more than moms do, and research indicates that’s important for kids’ development, too.

“There are now studies showing that this so-called rough and tumble play supports healthy exploration later on in life,” Harvard Medical School associate clinical professor William Pollack told Msnbc.com. “People used to worry that it might increase aggression in boys, but there’s plenty of data out there to show that it can lead them to be more empathetic.”

Studies also show that dads often empower their children and encourage them to explore and meet new people, according to Msnbc.com. And dads tend to be more in charge of playtime than the mother, too.

“Mothers help children feel connected, anticipated and wanted,” said Patrick Tolan, professor at the Curry School at the University of Virginia, according to Msnbc.com. “Fathers teach them how to interact with others and how to control themselves when they feel their needs aren’t being met.”

One study from the Universite de Montreal School of Psychoeducation observed parents interacting with their toddlers while the children were put into “risky” situations. For one experiment, a stranger approached the kids and in another, the kids saw toys placed at the top of a flight of stairs. While the moms stayed closer, dads followed their kids at a greater distance, which researchers said encouraged kids to explore.

“We found that fathers are more inclined than mothers to activate exploratory behavior by being less protective,” lead study author Daniel Paquette told Msnbc.com. And as any independent-minded child knows, the chance to explore without a helicopter mom on board leads to even more happiness.

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