Father’s do amazing and important things for their families. Unfortunately, fathers are often overlooked and undervalued these days. For example, the 2011 Census showed that approximately half of all children born in the U.S. were born to single mothers. And it hasn’t been until the last decade that “joint custody” in divorces meant that father’s get equal amounts of time with their children (before that, joint custody usually meant dad got to see their children on weekends and 6 weeks during the summer).
Dads Are Overlooked And Underrated
Additionally, stereotypes about fathers in the media have moved from good fathers like Ward Cleaver and Jim Anderson to fathers like Homer Simpson and the clumsy Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor. But for many of us, our fathers didn’t match any of these stereotypes. Our dads were just good old fashioned, normal dads. In fact, it’s these fathers who are possibly the most overlooked. They’re not portrayed by any of the media. But they gave us lasting impressions and taught us life-long lessons that we still use years later.
Thankfully, there are organizations like The National Fatherhood Initiative that draw attention to all the wonderful things that fathers do. We also have holidays like Fathers Day to remind us to appreciate the fathers in our lives. And not only do we have our own experiences to show what good fathers do but there is also research out there to show the many advantages that having a good father has.
And thankfully we have blogs like the one you’re reading (that was a shameless self-plug, I know) that tells us what that research is so you can write in your father’s day card to tell your dad that you are thankful for. So below are ten unique, research-based things you can thank your father for this Fathers Day.
Ten Unique Reasons to Thank Your Father
1) A Strong Gender Identity. Children who grew up with fathers in the home had stronger gender identities (i.e. identified more with being a girl or a boy). This helped you learn roles and get along with others of your same sex.
2) Your Sense of Direction and Balance. All that rough and tumble playing you did with your father was doing you a lot of good and you didn’t even know it. Children with fathers int he home had greater spacial reasoning (e.g. had better balance, knew when to start slowing down their bicycle to avoid a crash with an oncoming object, could navigate around a playground, etc.). Even though he may have drove your mother crazy because he never asked for directions, you still got a better sense of direction from him.
3) Your Emotional Self-Dependency. Children with active fathers were more emotionally able to self-sooth better than children without available fathers. This means that you were more able to handle emotional ups and downs and keep a more even keel regardless of what was going on around you.
5) Your Social Prowess. Children with fathers present scored higher in measures of social competence and confidence. This means you’re more able to read social cues and get along in a variety of social situations.
6) Your Ability to Think in Third Person. If you have a strong self-awareness, you can thank your father for helping you with that. Fathers help their children to see inside themselves, recognize what they’re thinking/feeling and how it’s affecting them. This does great for you in social circles and in leadership roles.
7) Your Level of Education. If you had a father around, you were more likely to attend college. Having a father means having another earner in the home so financially you were more likely to attend college. But more important than the financial component is your father probably encouraged you to go to college as well and encouraged/helped you get the good grades necessary to go to college, too.
8) Having a Loving Romantic Relationship. Your father’s example helped you develop stronger, deeper and healthier intimate relationships. Sure, you had some crash-and-burns along the way (we all did) but along the way you also found some really great ones. And your father helped you with that. Whether through good advice or showing you a great relationship with your mother, your father helped you find love.
9) Your Happiness. Children with fathers in the home had less incidences of depression. This means that you were less depressed and were able to experience more happy times growing up.
10) Your Health. If you stayed away from drug abuse and alcohol abuse, your father had some influence in that. Research shows that children with active fathers present made better health choices such as not abusing drugs or alcohol and not participating in risky sexual behaviors (such as unprotected sex).
Even If These All Don’t Apply To You, Just One Is a Good Reason to Thank Your Father
You can probably think of a million reasons to thank your father this Fathers Day. From teaching you to ride your bike to how to drive a stick shift, your father played a significant role in your life in many ways. Even though all ten of these things things may not apply to you, I’m sure at least a few of them do. And even just one of them is a good reason to thank your father this Fathers Day.
These ten resarch findings are found in the book Why Fathers Count: The Importance of Fathers and Their Involvement with Children