Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Back to School: Dads Get Involved

Soon children everywhere will participate in annual back-to-school rituals. For the child the event is usually celebrated with new clothing and shoes, fresh school supplies tucked inside a new backpack, and a sense of anticipation sometimes mixed with apprehension. Soon they will be entering a world designed just for them, geared to their needs, offering them opportunities to make friends, and grow intellectually, emotionally, socially and all of the other -allys there are to experience. Children look forward to going back to school almost as much as their parents do -- almost.

Parents see the first day of school as the culmination of weeks of preparation. This trial by fire begins with a number of school supply shopping ventures and continues through the drama of shelling out precious cash for new clothes and shoes -- each item squeezing an already limited budget. Parents of multiple children sometimes have an advantage here, learning from the older sibling how to prepare for the younger one's supply needs. All too soon, however, the days of preparations end as parents see their kids off to the first day of school.

For some parents the school bus gobbles up their child; others wave farewell from their front door. Some parents walk their child up to the school house; others queue up in designated car pool lines. For the first-time parent, this separation can prompt tears and anxiety over how their little one will be treated and, in turn, treats others. Veteran parents, on the other hand, smile bravely, still not completely free of the butterflies in their stomachs. Without a doubt, the first day of school can be stressful.

Part of the trauma comes in parents' desire to have their child do well. Every parent knows their kid is special, talented, intelligent and creative, and they want others to recognize these traits too. In addition, all parents want their child to get good grades, be confident, get along well with others, behave properly, and be healthy and happy.

Dads, research from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has found that children with involved, caring fathers are more likely to be emotionally secure, confident, better at social interaction, less depressed, better behaved, healthy and happier. It is never too early -- or too late -- to be involved in your children's lives.

The easiest way to be involved in your child's life is to talk with them. Research indicates today's dad spends an average of seven hours a week with their child as opposed to 12 hours for mom. Dads, take time to be with and talk to your child.

It will make a huge difference.

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