5 Benefits Of Having A Present Father In A Child’s Life
Today we see an epidemic in the breakdown of the family all across society, and Muslim families are unfortunately not saved from this. Whether it is due to divorce, separation or simply because the fathers are not involved in their children’s lives, many children are growing up without the benefits of an attentive and loving father or father figure.
If you want your children to be healthy, successful, smart and confident, then they need time with both parents. In most cases whether it is due to work schedules or other commitments, it is the father’s input that children miss more. Read on for benefits of children spending time with their fathers and why you should ensure that this is not missing in your family.
According to new research, absent fathers could increase the risk of later life illnesses. A study conducted by Princeton University researchers looked at 5,000 young people and found that children who suffered stress due to absent fathers caused the shortening of telomeres, a vial piece of DNA that protects cells. Children whose fathers are absent due to divorce experienced shortened telomeres of 14%, and those whose fathers had died, experienced shortened telomeres of 16%. This shows how absent fathers can affect a child’s physical health and well-being.
Every parent wants a confident child who is self-accepting and can navigate the world around them. Self-esteem is vital for social inclusion and success. The fact is, children naturally grow in confidence when they spend more time with their fathers, whether individually or in a group setting. In 2012, Pennsylvania State University academics conducted a study which followed the fortunes of 200 families. They found that children with involved fathers, “may develop higher general self-worth because their fathers go beyond social expectations to devote undivided attention to them.”
It is this undivided attention which is the ultimate key, where the fathers are fully present without phones or technology, and are thus forming an emotional attachment to their children. This essentially makes children feel valued and worthy of attention.
3. Less Trouble
In a time where knife crime, gun violence, drug abuse and other anti-social behavior is widespread and continues to rise, many parents wonder how to prevent their children from falling into such trouble. The fact is, evidence also suggests that children growing up in homes with absent fathers have a higher likelihood of having disciplinary issues in life. A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study published in 2006 states that children who have an involved father “are less likely to get into trouble at home, school, or in the neighborhood.“
Thus, to protect your children from falling into trouble with the law, fathers, or father figures need to play an active role and be attentive and present.
4. Positive Relationships
A father is the primary male influence in his children’s life, therefore setting a positive example is paramount. The positive example will set the expectation of how men should behave towards women, as well as how the expectation of how men should treat them.
A professor of Sociology at Morehouse College, Dr. Obe Clayton stated that:
“The effect that fathers have on daughters is extremely strong, even more so than for boys. When fathers interact with their daughters, those girls have higher self-esteem and go on to succeed.”
The way the Prophet (pbuh) interacted with his daughters is very telling. It is reported that when His beloved daughter Fatima az-Zahra would enter the room, he would stand and kiss her on the forehead. This shows that affection towards children should not be withheld as they grow, rather it should be present throughout their whole lives.
It may be surprising, but a father’s presence in their child’s life can have a direct influence on their IQ.
Academics at the University of Newcastle conducted a study in 2008 where they looked at over 11,000 fifty year-olds. Those who scored scored higher in the IQ test were the same children who had heavily involved fathers. The lead researcher, Dr. Daniel Nettle said:
“What was surprising about this research was the real sizable difference in the progress of children who benefited from paternal interest and how thirty years later, people whose dads were involved are more upwardly mobile. Paternal presence and interest can make children smarter and more successful.”
The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was an example for all mankind, for every aspect of life. His interaction and presence with children is very telling. The way He would not scold Anas who served him, the way He would let His beloved grandsons play on him and around Him, and way He treated His daughters not only in childhood, but even when they were older.
Affection from fathers is deeply rooted in the Prophetic way.
When the bedouin confessed to the Prophet Muhammad of having ten children and never kissing any of them, the Prophet (pbuh) responded by saying:
“the one who does not show mercy, will not be shown mercy.”
Ultimately, every parent wants their children to be smart, successful, confident and have healthy expectations of their relationships. The practical answer to achieving this could actually be very simple. If fathers have an active and present role in their children’s life, they will be all of these things and more.
For Muslim fathers, the vision should also go beyond this. It is the right of the child that they learn faith and good character from their home so that they can achieve success in both worlds. None of this is possible without a father who is present and committed, who makes time to connect with his child regularly, no matter how busy life gets.
It is important to remember that the days with small children can sometimes feel long, but the years are short, and regret is a bitter taste to be left with in years to come. It is never too late to change and shake things up for the better.