Becoming a dad changes everything and while fatherhood is challenging at times, it can be the most rewarding experience of your life. Being a present, involved father is more important than you might think when it comes to maximizing the health and wellness of your kids. Believe it or not, fatherhood even benefits your own physical and mental well being!
What Constitutes Fatherhood Involvement?
You might be wondering what it means to be an involved father? While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, being present for your kids means spending as much high-quality time with them as you can — and most importantly, showing your kids you love them unconditionally. The National Center for Fathering says the following constitutes healthy father involvement for boys and girls.
What Boys Need from Dads:
- Boys need a living example of how to be a respected, honorable man.
- They need help planning future goals (hobbies, sports achievements, good grades, career planning, relationship goals, etc.).
- Sons need help setting spiritual and moral expectations.
- Boys need to be taught about respect, respecting women, honesty, manners, and discerning right from wrong.
- Sons need dads to show them how to love.
What Girls Need from Dads:
- Girls need unconditional acceptance and words of comfort (in a non-judgmental way) from fathers.
- Daughters need assurance that they are beautiful, inside and out.
- They need help casting positive visions for their lives, without strict expectations.
- Girls need protection from physical, emotional, spiritual, and moral dangers.
- Daughters need enforced limits and consequences and help discerning right from wrong.
Simple ways you can be an involved father include talking with your children regularly, spending time with them, reading with them, helping kids with homework, enjoying hobbies together, and eating meals with your kids. You can play games with them, visit kids at school, attend or help coach children’s sports games, be spiritual with them, be patient when kids make mistakes, set good examples, and show your kids (using words and actions) unconditional love.
Dads are Important for the Entire Family
Your entire family flourishes when you’re present and involved with family activities, as the benefits of a good male role model are endless. Generally speaking, there is a national absent father crisis in America.
The National Father Initiative says one out of every three children live without a biological father at home, and father factors play roles in nearly all social-related problems in American children today.
Benefits of Involved Dads for Kids and Moms
You might be surprised to learn about some startling statics related to involved dads' effects on children. The University of Texas at Austin Lyndon B Johnson School of Public Affairs reports the following statistics related to fatherhood involvement. Children who grow up with involved fathers are:
- 39 percent more likely to earn A’s at school
- 45 percent less likely to repeat a grade
- 60 percent less likely to be expelled or suspended from school
- 75 percent less likely to experience a teen birth
- 2 times more likely to attend college and find stable employment
- 80 percent less likely to spend time in jail
The National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse confirms that kids with involved fathers perform better academically and behaviorally at school.
Even babies benefit from father involvement, believe it or not. The University of Florida says babies have lower risks for cognitive delays when fathers interact with them regularly, provide babies with emotional warmth, physically care for them, and engage in cognitively stimulating activities.
Father involvement positively impacts wives/mothers as well. Helping out with housework, kids’ homework, and other children’s activities is often associated with lower stress and anxiety in mothers and increases in marital satisfaction.
Effects Absent Fathers Have on Children
As much as involved fathers improve social, emotional, physical, and academic well being in children, not having an involved father has the opposite effect. The National Father Initiative says kids raised in father-absent homes are:
- 4 times more likely to live in poverty
- More likely to have behavioral problems
- 7 times more likely to become pregnant as a teenager
- More likely to face abuse and neglect
- More likely to abuse drugs and alcohol
- 2 times more likely to become obese
- More likely to commit a crime and go to prison
- 2 times more likely to drop out of high school
These statistics are alarming, as father involvement appears to have more of an impact on kids’ lives than once thought.
Non-Biological Father Figures are Important Too!
Even if you’re not a biological father, you can still bless children and provide them with the same health and wellness benefits (such as getting good grades, starting a successful career, and staying out of trouble) as biological dads.
Whether you’re a step-parent, an adoptive parent, an extended family member, a coach, or a school volunteer, showing support and encouragement for non-biological kids can be just as rewarding!
Playing the Part is Important for Dads
Filling the role of an involved dad benefits kids, spouses, and most importantly, you! Dads reap a variety of physical and mental health benefits when they engage with their kids regularly.
Being an Involved Dad Makes You a Better Person
The example you’re setting for your kids is probably the best version of yourself, knowing your words and actions shape kids’ lifestyle habits and personality traits. For example, you may think twice about causing fights, driving recklessly, cursing, drinking too much, or eating junk food with kids by your side.
Involved Fathers Have Less Stress and Depression
The University of Houston conducted a study examining effects of fatherhood on 5,000 fathers ages 25 to 35 at risk of becoming absent dads. Researchers looked at the health status of fathers using surveys and found that dads who physically engaged with kids regularly (read to them, played with them. They also spent quality time with their kids) and were less likely to suffer from stress and depression.
Researchers also determined that when dads decreased interactions with their kids (from four days per week to less than three days weekly), these fathers had increased risks of depression and drug use.
Fatherhood Boosts Confidence Personally and Professionally
Being an involved dad often brings a boost of confidence and feelings of well-being. The University of Florida says involved fathers are more comfortable with their job skills and careers, social relationships, and parenting skills — and have better self-esteem!
Being the Best Version of Yourself
It’s hard to lead by example for your kids by being the best version of yourself if you’re not living a healthy lifestyle. Maintaining confidence and showing your kids what it’s like to look and feel healthy increases the chance your children will adopt healthy lifestyle habits as well.
How Dads’ Lifestyles Affect Kids
The President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition found that just one in three children are physically active every day, and one in three adults get recommended amounts of physical activity regularly. On a similar note, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says almost 38 percent of U.S. adults and 21 percent of teens are classified as obese.
A 2017 study published in the Journal of Clinical Research in Pediatric Endocrinology found that having overweight or obese parents increases the odds of kids being overweight as well. Researchers found that boys with overweight parents are almost two times more overweight than boys with normal weight parents.
Why is this the case? Children seem to pick up on parents’ lifestyle habits — sometimes by choice and other times because they have to. Parents who eat healthily often keep healthy foods at home, giving kids better access to nutritious eating. Active parents often provide more opportunities for kids to engage in sports and other forms of physical activity.
Leading by Example
If your lifestyle habits don’t reflect the best version of you, a few simple tips and tricks can steer you in the right direction:
1. Commit to Change
Once you firmly commit to change lifestyle habits, you’re more likely to stay on track with healthy eating and exercise goals. Make a commitment to yourself, and find somebody (a friend, health coach, or a weight management program) to keep you accountable.
2. Get on a Regular Routine
Many adults (and kids) thrive when following regular routines. This means going to bed at the same time each night, getting in regular scheduled physical activity, eating small meals every few hours, limiting screen time, being involve in extra-curricular activities (sports, clubs, music, etc.), doing homework at allotted times, and finishing work/homework on time.
3. Get Enough Sleep
Getting the right amount of sleep is crucial for proper health and development in kids, and reduces chronic disease risks (including obesity) in adults. The National Sleep Foundation established the following sleep recommendations to maximize health and wellness for adults and children:
- 0 to 3 months old: 14 to 17 hours of sleep daily
- 4 to 11 months old: 12 to 15 hours
- 1 to 2 years old: 11 to14 hours
- 3 to 5 years old: 10 to13 hours
- 6 to 13 years old: 9 to11 hours
- 14 to 17 years old: 8 to 10 hours
- 18 to 64 years old: 7 to 9 hours
- 65 years and older: 7 to 8 hours
4. Nix Added Sugars, Processed Meats, Alcohol, and Smoking
Cut out added sugar, processed meats, alcohol, and smoking as a way to boost energy, reduce cancer and other disease risks, and maintain a healthy weight. Surround yourself with friends and family members with similar healthy lifestyle habits and goals, to boost your odds of nixing smoking and excessive alcohol for good.
5. Stay Active
Stay active with regular workouts (and be active with your children) as a way to look and feel your best, and set a good example. Being physically active with kids is an excellent way for fathers to stay involved. Play basketball together, go on bike rides, go swimming, or play Frisbee in the backyard as a way to get off the couch, improve your health, keep kids active, and spend quality time together.
6. Find a Weight Management Program
Whether you’re thinking about losing weight, have already shed unwanted pounds using Fit Father 30X (FF30X), or want to keep lost weight off and need extra support, finding the right long-term weight management program is a must. Doing so gives you the support you need, helps you stay accountable, and boosts your chance at long-term success.
Reaping the Benefits of FF4L
FF30X is a sustainable diet and exercise program designed for busy dads over 40 who want to build muscle, burn fat, and shed excess body weight. The program helps men plan meals and menus, get workouts that meet individualized goals, and receive accountability coaching (studies show this is an effective weight management strategy).
Regardless of whether or not you’ve met weight loss or muscle gain goals, if you’re looking for a way to stay slim and trim indefinitely consider a Fit Father for Life (FF4L) membership. FF4L is an all-access VIP pass that gets you long-term healthy weight management support.
When signing up for FF4L, you’ll receive everything you need for ongoing accountability — because being a fit father involves more than just a healthy diet and exercise program. FF4L gives you access to Fit Father Project’s entire library of resources to stay on a healthy path (physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally) for life.
A FF4L membership provides you with access to old and new programs in the Fit Father Project library — including all phases of FF30X, the Fit Father Ultimate Flexibility Program, the Fit Father Beat Stress Program, Raising An Athlete Program (for your kids), FF30X For Her, advanced motivation and discipline bible training, and VIP question and answer access to health and medical professionals.
Becoming More Involved
You can’t go wrong when choosing to be a fit, involved father for your kids. The health and wellness benefits (physically and psychologically) you and your kids will reap is one of the most fulfilling, rewarding experiences of your life.
There’s no one-size-fits-all recommendation for how to be more involved with your children. A good rule of thumb is to engage with your kids in some way (spend time with them or chat on the phone when you’re away) most days, if not all days, each week. Don’t worry, no dad is perfect and mistakes happen. Fortunately, kids love their dads unconditionally — and doing your best is what counts!