Keeping Dad in the Picture

Children benefit the most from having both parties involved in their lives. Here’s how you can help keep it that way.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. is the world’s leader in fatherless families.

But even in families with both parents present, fathers sometimes get the shaft when it comes to involvement. That’s why, in a recent article published on its website, Chattanooga’s First Things First raised the question: “In today’s families, do dads parent or babysit?”

Keeping dad in the picture when couples are together can be as simple as mom letting dad parent in his own way. Oftentimes, moms are more confident in their ability to parent, while dads are a bit more withdrawn, leading moms to criticize dads’ parenting skills. But being critical of a father’s attempts at participation usually only leads to discouragement and feelings of defeat for both parties.

dad playing outdoors with son

Instead, women should encourage their partners to be engaged parents and resist the urge to hover or correct their partner when they do something in a way that is different from what they’re used to. Dads should be congratulated – not coached. In their crusade to “be consistent,” many mothers don’t realize that a father’s distinct style of communication and different style of parenting plays an important role in a child’s development.

With separated couples, keeping dad in the picture can be more of a challenge. Research shows divorced fathers are less likely to get equal time with their children, which can lead to a negatively impacted father-child relationship. This doesn’t always have to be the case, though. While it can take more work to keep dad involved when parents split, keeping dad in the picture isn’t impossible.

Even though dad may not be involved in daily decision making anymore, it’s beneficial to all when parents communicate in a manner that shows respect for one another. When making plans, a thoughtful email or text message can make the difficulties of post-divorce life easier. Moms should keep dad in mind when choosing dates for after-school practice and other activities. Although these things may seem trivial, polite negotiation is the key to keeping dad actively involved in all aspects of the child’s life.

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