When we think of teaching skills such as consideration for others and empathy, we think more of moms having the greater influence. But new research has shed light on the fact that dad’s engagement in the family has more influence with raising empathetic and considerate children. The researchers found that fathering was the strongest factor in determining whether or not children demonstrated high levels of emphatic concern for others, and these findings continued beyond childhood and into adult years (the study ran for 26 years). Not only that. Dads were the primary influencer for generosity and altruism as well.
Kids that grow up with fathers learn to self-regulate and control themselves more than children who are raised fatherless (in homes where dads were engaged and modeling self-control and acting responsibly).
This is significant because being considerate has never been as important as it is today, and the inability to control what you say and do leads to a family, school and community where chaos and violence are often times the outcome.
Playing rough and getting up and back into the game are typical responses for what society mentions when they hear the word “dad,” and although these are important contributions, dad’s influence on his child’s emotional well-being and resilience is much more impacted with his modeling sensitivity, compassion, and showing genuine empathy for someone hurting. Researchers are studying the use of “volunteer dads” as mentors for children growing up fatherless in an attempt to help these kids develop social skills, manners and to get along in an ever changing world.
Four simple tips for modeling empathy and consideration for others:
- Listen without interruption.
- Turn your gadgets off when you’re with your kids (they know where your eyes and attention are focused).
- Talk with respect to your children, your partner and co-workers.
- Bring back game night. Kids learn empathy and compassion best by playing games where there is family competition. Learning how to lose with class is a skill no longer taught in the home, but very much needed.
Although dads have the most influence with creating an atmosphere of empathy and consideration in their home, it only works when you take the time to model it for your children and partner. Use your skills to create a home of understanding and consideration that will affect your children’s life long after you’re gone.