When we think of teaching skills, such as consideration for others and empathy, we often default to moms having the greater influence. But new research has shown 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 children demonstrated high levels of emphatic concern for others and these findings continued into adult years (the study ran for 26 years). Not only that, but dads were the primary influencer for generosity and altruism. Kids that grow up with engaged fathers who model self-control learn to self-regulate and control themselves more than children who are raised fatherless. This is crucial since the inability to control what you say and do leads to a family, school, and community breakdown.
Playing rough and being tough is what most often associate with the word “dad.” Although these are important contributions, fathers are crucial role models for demonstrating sensitivity, compassion, and empathy. Researchers are studying “volunteer dads” for children growing up fatherless; these dads help teach social skills and manners to get along in an ever-changing world. Here are four simple tips for modeling empathy and consideration for others:
Listen without interruption.
Turn your gadgets off when you are with your kids. They know where your eyes and attention are focused.
Talk with respect to and about 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 rarely taught but very much needed.
Although dads can create 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 impact your children long after you are gone. Happy Father’s Day to all dads and thank you for investing your time and effort into raising considerate, respectful children.