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In Defense of Dads- Roughhousing Is Good?!

April 7, 2009

Parent Coaching Expert, Alice Kaltman, gave us some great advice yesterday about balancing care with your spouse.  She follows it up today with evidence as to why both of you together make a difference. You might want to print this out and slip it under your partner’s pillow for some late night talk!

In Defense of Dads, Part Two

by Alice Kaltman

In Part One of “In Defense of Dads” I talked about how important it is for dads to stay involved with their kids and how moms need to step aside and let dads step up. Not only is this crucial for the health of marriages, but it’s vital for the emotional, physical, and intellectual health of children as well.
And here’s what the experts have proven:

If you’re available, affectionate, and you play lots of high energy, rough and tumble games with your kids, they have a better chance of:
Positive self-control
Positive friendships
Better social skills and emotional intelligence
Better problems- solving skills
Better verbal skills
Better performance in school, higher scores on tests, better overall grades
Better emotional self-regulation
Less anxiety and shyness
Higher scores on intelligence tests

  • Rough-housing turns out to be really great for young kids. Moms may cringe, “Stop, someone’s gonna get hurt!” while dads play rough. But parent-child games that spikes in energy and physicality are more than just fun, they’re great for brain development. Studies show that a few rounds of play-wrestling do as much if not more than farm animal puzzles or quiet reading for stimulating intelligence and self-regulation. So dads, get down and do your high-energy thing. And moms, let your partners keep tussling, tossing, and bouncing your babies. Encourage it. And hey, if you’re so inclined, join in to help foster the development of a bright new mind.

If a father is fair and firm and involved in a caring, compassionate manner, when a child is older there’s a much better chance:
They won’t abuse drugs and/or alcohol.
They’ll become more caring, sharing adults
They’ll have better relationships with their wives/husband, kids, and community.

Fathers who are emotionally available, who listen and empathize with tummy aches and booboos, who don’t shush crying or whining immediately, who always start with a few soothing words, are the fathers whose children do better in school and have healthier relationships.

And, if you don’t believe me, check the data yourselves. Drs. John and Julie Gottman of the Gottman Relationship Institute, pre-eminent researchers on the topic of Transition to Parenthood have collected data from many studies, and done their own research to support these facts.  Believe it or not, our own government’s Department of Child Welfare has done so, as well.

Take it from the experts, but first and foremost, take it from your heart. Everyone, every parent: Go listen, go play and go have some fun!

Alice Kaltman, L.C.S.W. has been working with parents and kids since 1988. In 2006, she co-founded Family Matters NY with Sara Zaslow, L.M.S.W. FMNY is a parenting coaching service for Brooklyn and Manhattan families, providing support through home and office visits. Alice lives in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn with her teen-age daughter and husband, the sculptor Daniel Wiener. She also writes fiction for kids, and dances professionally in her spare (?) time. Write to Alice at info@familymattersny.com. To see her resource listing and reviews on the blog, click here and hereAlice has her own page now! You can see all her articles listed here.