A playful daddy crouched low on hands and knees and growled. His four young children squealed, jumped up and down, and pounced. They were saving their dog from the jaws of a mountain lion. Of course, dad was the lion and the children were heroes. The patient dog lived to see another day.
Good old-fashioned horse-play is what dads do best. This spontaneous fun with pillows, couch cushions, and imagination is actually great for children’s self-esteem and physical development.
In fact, the more dads engage with their children overall, the more likely their children are to flourish. Stephanie Pappas reports in her article, Fatherhood: The Science of Dad, that dads make a big difference in the lives of their children. The father-child relationship is essential for a child’s sense of well-being, happiness, life satisfaction and perseverance.
Pappas also includes in her article a report from Bradford Wilcox, author of Gender and Parenthood. “Dads are more likely to roughhouse than moms, a style of play that helps teach kids to control their bodies and emotions. Fathers are also more likely to encourage their kids to embrace risk, both on the playground and in life. This influences the ambitions of children over the long run.”
So dads matter and their parenting style matters. Dads who listen to their children, play, and use imagination in storytelling have a powerful affect on their children’s emotional and physical development.
Put another way, researcher Laura Padilla-Walker told LiveScience, “That doesn’t mean going on fancy vacations, it can be playing ball in the backyard or watching a movie with your kids,” she said. “Whatever it is, just make yourself available and when you’re with your children, be with them.”