Source Credit : Should Kids Help with Family Chores
By Annye Rothenberg, Ph.D. at www.PerfectingParentingPress.com
Many parents wonder if they should expect their kids to take on household responsibilities. Even though parents report that their children are willing to help out when asked – or even volunteer to do a job – many families don’t ask their children to take on regular chores. Some think it’s not worth the potential conflict and nagging, and feel it’s easier to do the chores themselves. Some feel children don’t do the jobs well enough anyhow. Some parents feel their children are too busy. Other parents can’t see the value of teaching children to do chores. And some parents resented having to do chores growing up. In households where paid housecleaners and gardeners do the chores, it may not fit easily into the routine to assign tasks to the children.
But there is real value in having children shoulder their share of the work. Here are five reasons:
- Doing chores together helps build the spirit of “family,” enabling kids to see that everyone has to do his share. We don’t want our kids to believe that it’s adults’ job to do all the work. Teaching the habit of pitching in with tasks encourages a child to step up and do his part – rather then doing as little as possible – at home, in others’ homes, and in the community.
- Children learn their parents’ standards and work ethic when their parents teach them to do chores. We don’t want our children to learn to take the easy way out and do jobs in a halfhearted way. Too many parents complain that their school-age children aren’t motivated and won’t try their best at schoolwork, sports, projects, etc. Family jobs have great value as a way to help our children internalize the standard of working hard at a job.
- Getting kids accustomed to doing chores helps them learn patience and perseverance. You’ll be able to see the results when your child has to wait while you talk to a neighbor or tackles a school assignment that he isn’t enthusiastic about.
- Some children don’t know what to do with themselves when they’re not being entertained, and complain about being bored if they’re not having fun every minute. Chores help children realize that doing ordinary and even tedious tasks are part of life, which helps them appreciate the activities that are fun and amusing.
- Doing family tasks helps children learn how to thrive with the independence they’ll need in college and adult life, with less of a learning curve when they need to prepare food, do laundry, and eventually take care of their home.
If you want to build family chores into your kids’ lives, here are answers to the important questions.
- At what age? Toddlers and preschoolers love to imitate you and to help you, but can’t be counted on to do jobs regularly or well enough. Still, we should encourage them and praise their help. By starting at this young age when they’re eager, you get them accustomed to pitching in, and by five years old they can start doing regular family tasks.
- How frequently? Daily jobs (seven days a week) work best so they become part of a regular routine; then kids are less likely to argue and negotiate about those jobs on Mondays – after the weekend off.
- What kinds of jobs? (Children three and over can do some of these on an occasional basis. Kids five and older are able to do any of these jobs on a regular basis.) Most of the jobs should be about five minutes. Look at the kitchen first. There’s lots to do there: Setting the table. Bringing the serving platters to the table. Rinsing dishes. Washing and drying pots. Loading and unloading the dishwasher. Then look at all the jobs involving garbage: Dumping garbage from the wastebaskets throughout the house. Dumping the kitchen garbage into the bigger garbage cans. Putting cans outside for pickup. Look at the possible recycling jobs. There are also plenty of laundry jobs. And vacuuming individual rooms and cleaning sinks, etc., are also worthwhile tasks. Cooking probably shouldn’t count as a job, because it’s fun for most kids.
- How many jobs? Elementary school children can do one or two jobs a day, increasing to three or four for teens. Even busy kids can spare these few minutes, especially if everyone in the family has jobs to do – including parents, of course.
- Should kids keep these jobs forever? No, every month or two, have the kids look at your master list of chores; offer them the chance to keep them, to trade jobs with their siblings, or to choose new ones. Doing chores is more interesting when they get to do something new, and it allows parents to teach kids different skills.
- Should you give children an allowance for doing family tasks? We’ve all heard the two sides. Allowance should be tied to the chores children actually do, or the allowance should be completely unrelated to doing chores. (Of course, some families do not give an allowance at all.) My advice is that it’s valuable for your child to connect being responsible for doing work with receiving a monetary reward. If we lived in a culture with few things to buy, few ads, few choices, then money wouldn’t be that important. But our children want to have things – lots of things – and most get interested in money sometime during the elementary school years. Children’s endless desire to buy new things is a major issue for parents to provide guidance on. Children should be learning that it takes work to earn money to buy things and that money doesn’t come too easily. (As you know, young children think money just comes from the bank or out of the ATM.) It takes years before children realize that you can’t just go to any bank and be handed money.
- How much allowance should kids get? This differs a lot depending on your community, the ages of the children, and how many jobs they do. Check with other parents and teachers to get an idea of the community standard. Assuming the older children in your family are doing more work, they should get a bigger allowance. (With age usually comes more privilege and more responsibility.) Teaching chores is much more successful when parents set up a chart for kids five years and older so they can check off their jobs each day. Then allowance is paid only for jobs done. Make sure you set a time to go over what they earned and didn’t earn that week. (Lots of families need to set a consistent weekly time or else the whole plan falls apart, and kids go back to not doing regular family chores.) Either give them the money to put “in their bank” or keep a tally. Many parents have started their children on chores and not followed through. Parents feel disappointed in themselves and their children when they give up on their parenting plans, and children lose some of their trust and confidence in their parents.
What can they spend their money on?
Parents should allow increased decision-making around spending as children get older. As kids are starting regular chores and allowance, you’ll need some guidelines about their spending. You might want to start with only the first category, but within a few years, consider dividing the money into three categories: inexpensive purchases, more expensive purchases that kids need to save for, and charitable contributions. Parents usually decide the percentage for each category with increasing input from kids as they get older. Parents are the gatekeepers even on the inexpensive purchases until children are about ten years old. When children want to buy something, you can help them by talking to them about how to decide whether they should spend their money on “that” or not. You can teach them how to judge an item’s quality,
whether it’s an acceptable purchase based on your family values (such as toy guns – yes or no – or whether the child already has similar toys). In short, we want to teach them to be thoughtful, not impulsive, consumers. If we do a good job, we won’t have to keep giving them money when they’re 40!
Annye Rothenberg, Ph.D., author, has been a child/parent psychologist and a specialist in childrearing and development of young children for more than 25 years. Her parenting psychology practice is in Emerald Hills, California. She is also on the adjunct faculty in pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. Rothenberg was the founder/director of the Child Rearing parenting program in Palo Alto, California, and is the author of the award-winning books Mommy and Daddy are Always Supposed to Say Yes … Aren’t They?, Why Do I Have To?, I Like To Eat Treats,I Don’t Want to Go to the Toilet, I Want To Make Friends and the just-released I’m Getting Ready For Kindergarten. These are all-in-one books with a story for young children and a manual for parents. For more information about her books and to read her articles, visit www.PerfectingParentingPress.com. To find out about her counseling practice and her speaker presentations, go to www.PerfectingParentingPress.com/about_author.html.
Any parent knows: An evening can go to heck in a matter of minutes.
Our 9-year-old daughter pipes up suddenly that she needs a pink dress to play Sleeping Beauty in class the next morning. It has to be pink. It has to be pretty. And she needs it now!
Any sort of reasoning—like the suggestion to wear a wedding-worthy yellow dress—won’t work. Frustrations explode into shouting, timeouts and all-too-familiar rants of “this family sucks,” followed by heartbreaking rounds of “I hate myself!”
The next morning, when nerves calm, the yellow dress is perfectly fine and our daughter cheerfully chatters about Belle’s ball gown in Beauty and the Beast.
The difference? The anxiety attack is over.
Sneaky and insidious, anxiety seizes our daughter like a riptide pulling her out to sea. Her negative thoughts build like a tsunami, and it’s useless to swim against them with problem-solving logic.
Like a real riptide, the only escape seems to be diagonally. A surprise dose of humor—tough to summon in the midst of a blowup—can spring her free. As one therapist explained, “You can’t process anger and humor at the same time.”
It’s taken years of keen observation and research, plus the support of educators and psychologists to help our kids, ages 9 to 13, cope with mental health issues that also include Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) and depression.
Recognizing that something isn’t right and pursuing help isn’t an easy journey. But it’s necessary. In the same way you’d pursue cures and solutions to manage chronic physical conditions like cancer and diabetes for your child, you have to advocate for your child’s emotional well-being. It requires being proactive, persistent and patient.
“If you can intervene early and get proper treatment, the prognosis is so much better,” says Teri Brister, who directs the basic education program of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
KNOW THE SIGNS
“One of the most difficult-to-recognize issues is anxiety,” says John Duby, director of Akron Children’s Hospitals Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. “(Children) won’t say, ‘Hey, you know, I’m worried.’ You have to be tuned in.”
All-consuming worries—about parents’ safety, bullies or natural disasters, for instance—can look like a lack of focus at first. Some kids ask frequent questions about “what’s next” for meals or activities. Changes to the daily routine (a substitute teacher or a visit to a new doctor) can trigger headaches, stomachaches or a sleepless night.
At its most extreme, anxiety induces panic attacks. Kids break into sweats, have trouble breathing and feel their heart racing.
Depression may cause similar symptoms to anxiety with headaches, stomachaches, not being able to sleep or sleeping more than usual. “They may withdraw socially,” says Duby. Kids may head to their room after school and not emerge until morning. Some kids are constantly irritable and angry.
“We often think depression doesn’t happen in children, but it does,” he says.
Step 1: Trust your instincts
If you’re worried about your child’s mood, trust your instincts as a parent, recommends Brister.
The red flags of mental health disorders tend to pop up during school years when children have to navigate academic expectations, make friends and increase responsibilities at home.
“You have to look for (behavior) patterns,” says Brister. These can include impulsive acts, hyperactivity, outbursts, an inability to follow directions or recurring ailments that may impair how the child performs in class, extracurricular activities or simply sitting through dinner with the family.
Most concerned parents start with a visit to the pediatrician. (PETER’S EDIT For Australian parents your family GP is a good place to start) The family physician can help you analyze symptoms and understand whether there might be an underlying condition such as food allergies or a chronic lack of sleep.
Step 2: Seek professional help
(PETER’S EDIT: In Australia a referral from a GP to a psychologist via a mental health care plan or ATAPS will ensure an informed, appropriate and timely assessment. If the issue is developmental, a referral to a paediatrician may be preferred or if your GP has a serious concern a referral to a child psychiatrist may be made. Wait times for each option should be relatively short in the private sector.)
When our son was 5, we sought testing for ADHD with a referral from our pediatrician. Unfortunately, we couldn’t even get on a waiting list for a psychology appointment. We were told the list had backed up to a two-year wait, so it was eliminated. We had to call weekly and hope for an opening.
When our daughter needed help as her anxiety escalated, it took a school district triage nurse to get us an appointment with a psychiatric nurse.
This is, unfortunately, not an uncommon scenario for parents. You need to use all the leverage you have to access experts in the school system or mental health clinics to help with your situation. Stay persistent and be pleasant rather than pushy.
And when you do get an appointment, make the most of it by consistently tracking the concerns you have about your child’s behavior and putting them in writing for the physician to read. Have a list of questions ready, and always ask about additional resources you can tap into, from support groups to books.
Mental health practitioners will also be gathering resources and information about your child from report cards, checklists and questionnaires. These can help pinpoint whether a child has anxiety, depression, ADHD, bipolar disorder, is on the autism spectrum or may have a combination of these. “It allows us to have a more objective view,” says Duby.
Step 3: Find your normal
Once there is a diagnosis, families can decide how to move forward. That might mean trying medications, working with a psychologist or setting up an Individualized Education Program (IEP) at school.
Additional services that may help include occupational therapy, which can identify specific movements, such as swinging, spinning or brushing outer limbs with a soft brush that may help your child’s brain process and integrate sensory information.
These tools and approaches can help families be proactive about preventing and managing mental meltdowns. It’s also essential to help children feel a sense of belonging at school and in community groups. Families need to build up their children’s strengths so they have the self-esteem and confidence to move forward, says Duby.
And parents should stay on top of the situation, watching for changes in behavior and mood, especially as children get older, says Brister.
Hormones may help or worsen conditions, which makes it important to have a diagnosis and support network before the teen years hit.
“I can’t emphasize enough how essential it is to recognize symptoms early and treat them,” she says.
SIGNS OF DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY
Signs in children may differ from the symptoms we commonly associate with adults who have the disorders. Depression in kids may look like irritability, anger and self-criticism, says the National Alliance on Mental Illness. It could be as subtle as her making less eye contact with you than in the past.
School performance is another important indicator. Grades can drop off dramatically; students may also visit the school nurse more frequently with vague complaints of illness.
Children who suffer from an anxiety disorder may experience fear, nervousness and shyness, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. They may worry excessively about things like grades and relationships with family and friends. They may strive for perfection and seek constant approval.
HOW TO CALM IT DOWN
Whether a child has mental health struggles or not, emotions inevitably boil over—especially as preteen dramas escalate. Here are ways to help de-escalate the situation and restore calm to your family life.
• Keep your body language non-threatening and stay as even-keeled as possible. Don’t get in the child’s face or use a raised voice.
• Teach kids how to breathe slowly through the nose, then exhale gently through the mouth as if cooling a hot bowl of soup.
• Create an “away space,” a place to cool down and take a break. Consider a quiet nook in a bedroom, a spot on the stairs for kids who don’t like separation or a backyard corner for those who find comfort in nature.
• Let kids know they can’t hit others, but it’s OK to punch a pillow or punching bag or to squeeze putty or a squishy toy.
• Figure out what’s physically comforting—feeling the softness of a blanket or stuffed animal, nuzzling the fur of a family pet or piling under heavy blankets.
• Listen to favorite tunes on a music player.
• Provide a journal for writing out frustrations or doodling when the words won’t come.
• When emotions simmer down, sit side by side to talk through how the situation could have been handled differently and work on solutions together.
(PETER’S EDIT: AUSTRALIA:
HeadSpace: headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation Ltd is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing under the Youth Mental Health Initiative Program. A great resource for parents and teens.
HealthyChildren.org from the American Academy of Pediatrics has a section dedicated to “Emotional Problems.” Parents can tap into great information on how to help their child. Audio segments recorded by experts in the field can be used as a launching point for family discussions.
TheBalancedMindFoundation.org, founded by the mother of a daughter with bipolar disorder, provides help for families. Online, private support groups offer 24/7-support and online forums are a way for parents to connect.
WorryWiseKids.org, a service of the Children’s and Adult Center for OCD and Anxiety, has a wealth of information about the different types of anxiety disorders children can have, how to understand them and how to seek treatment for them.
A collection of studies published last Wednesday in the journal Sleep tackled some important questions: What are the health effects of not getting enough sleep? How does sleep deprivation affect teens? Does insomnia have long-term consequences?
Credit: Time Magazine
Given that past research has shown that short sleepers (and unusually long sleepers) die younger than people who get to hours per night, a new Penn State study looked at the impact of insomnia on mortality. The consequences could be dire: the study of men and women in Pennsylvania found that insomniac men who slept less than hours per day were four times more likely to die than those who got a full night’s rest. The study even adjusted for other medical conditions that affect sleep (and death rates), such as obesity, alcohol and depression. Of note, sleep deprivation did not affect women’s mortality.
In another study in Sleep, University of Sydney researchers focused on adolescents and young adults who weren’t getting enough sleep — an increasingly common problem among the digital generation, who stays up late plugged into their computers and smart phones. Turns out, burning the midnight oil can have long-term consequences. Researchers found that for each hour of lost sleep, levels of psychological distress rose by % in nearly -to--year-olds who were followed for to months. Overall, short sleepers were % more likely to report symptoms of psychological distress on a standard test, compared with people who got adequate sleep. The effect was especially pronounced among young people who already suffered from anxiety; in this group, lack of sleep triggered more serious mental health problems like full-blown depression and even bipolar disorder, according to the study’s lead author, Professor Nick Glozier. But even among those who began the study in good health, less than five hours of sleep meant tripling their odds of psychological distress.
A third Sleep study this week found that teens who didn’t get enough z’s consumed more calories than their well-rested peers. The study of adolescents, average age , revealed that teenagers who slept less than hours a night on weeknights ate % more calories from fat per day and % more calories from carbs than teens who slept longer. They also tended to get their calories from snacks instead of healthful meals. Cumulatively, this behavior increases the risk of obesity and, in turn, the chances of developing cardiovascular disease later in life.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine suggests that adults get an average of seven to eight hours of sleep per night, while the National Sleep Foundation recommends that adolescents need at least hours, though only % of them get enough.
“Sleep disorders are common in the general population and even more so in clinical practice, yet are relatively poorly understood by doctors and other health care practitioners,” wrote Sue Wilson, the lead author of new guidelines published today by the British Association of Psychopharmacology to help doctors treat insomnia and other sleep disorders. Her advice: get a diagnosis from a sleep specialist for patients, then try behavioral therapy to improve their sleep before jumping to prescription medication. Most of all, pay attention to who you are treating: postmenopausal women might need hormone therapy, small children with ADHD might require melatonin treatment.
And if you suffer from disordered sleep patterns, consider these tips from the National Sleep Foundation:
Avoid caffeine. Tea, coffee, soda and energy drinks can keep you awake for up to hours. Instead, when your mid-afternoon slump hits, try an energizing snack like nuts or yogurt.
Nest. Make your bed as comfortable as possible. Keep your sleep environment dark, cool and work-free.
Establish a routine. About an hour before bedtime, start a nightly relaxation routine that can include reading, taking a bath or anything else that soothes you. Complete all exercise at least three hours before bedtime. Don’t look at screens before you go to sleep, which can stimulate your brain.
Related articles by Zemanta
- Feeling Stuck? 10 Important Tips For Changing Your Life (peterhbrown.wordpress.com)
Credit: The Fatherhood Institute
Fathers and child development
Before we specifically look at fathers’ involvement in and influence on children’s education and learning, it’s important to understand fathers’ influence on the ‘whole child’, since characteristics such as self-esteem, self-regulation, self-efficacy and locus of controlare emerging as key predictors of children’s educational and other attainment.
Since , an increasingly sophisticated body of research has been charting the pathways through which fathers influence their children’s development.
For example, a systematic review of studies which took account of mothers’ involvement and gathered data from different independent sources, found ‘positive’ father involvement associated with a range of desirable outcomes for children and young people. These included: better peer relationships; fewer behaviour problems; lower criminality and substance abuse; higher educational / occupational mobility relative to parents’; capacity for empathy; non-traditional attitudes to earning and childcare; more satisfying adult sexual partnerships; and higher self-esteem, life-satisfaction and ‘locus of control’ – that is, (Pleck & Masciadrelli, 2004). Other substantial studies and reviews (Sarkadi et al, 2008; Flouri, 2005) have delivered similar findings. All this is relevant to children’s educational outcomes, since ‘better functioning’ in life in general tends to correlate with attainment.
Of course, fathers, like mothers, can also influence their children’s development in negative ways – and this is now recognised to be a very important reason for engaging with them. Low levels of father involvement are associated with a range of negative outcomes in children (for review, see Flouri, 2005). Poor outcomes in children are also found where fathers parent in negative ways or are seriously troubled themselves (for review, see Lloyd et al, 2003). Poor outcomes in children are also associated with their fathers’ substance misuse (Velleman, 2004, p.) and with fathers’ abuse of their children’s mothers (Jaffee et al, )
It has often been argued that no father is better than a bad father. That can of course be true – just as no mother can be better than a bad mother. However, seeking to improve fathers’ behaviour should be the first port of call, since ‘ending’ the father-child relationship generally brings its own problems, and many fathers, once they are engaged with, can change their behaviour in a positive direction. And when children do not see their fathers, or do not see them very much, they tend to demonise or idealise them (Kraemer, 2005; Gorrell Barnes et al, ) or blame themselves for their absence (Pryor & Rodgers, 2001). Being ‘without my dad’ causes most children and young people a lot of distress, anger and self-doubt (Fortin et al, 2006; Laumann-Billings & Emery, ); and can contribute to difficulties with peer relationships, including bullying (Parke et al, 2004; Berdondini & Smith, ). And when fathers’ absence leaves mothers more stressed because they are struggling to parent alone or because they have less money, then children suffer again (McLanahan, ; McLanahan & Teitler, ).
Levels/trends in fathers’ involvement in their children’s learning
US research (National Center for Fathering, 2009) reports that while % of fathers never visit their child’s classroom and % never volunteer at school, the trend for their involvement is upward. Over the past years the percentage of fathers taking their child to school has risen from % to %; attending class events from % to %; visiting their child’s classroom from % to % and volunteering at their child’s school from % to %. Attending parent-teacher conferences is up from % to %; attending school meetings from % to %; and attending school-based parents’ meetings from % to %.
While similar ‘trend’ data are not yet gathered in the UK, in Scotland the South Lanarkshire ‘Father Figures’ online survey of men (Henderson, 2007) has delivered some baseline data: % of the respondent fathers said they read books/newspapers with their children at home; % claimed to help with their child’s homework or schoolwork ‘often’, with only % ‘never’ helping with this; % ‘often’ went to parents’ night, with only % ‘never’ attending; only % of respondents ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ read their child’s school report card; and only % ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ attended their child’s school show.
Another 2007 UK survey (Peters et al, 2008) found that % of co-resident fathers and % of non-resident parents (mainly men) wanted to be more involved in their children’s education. Mothers were only marginally more likely than fathers (% compared to %) to say they felt ‘very involved’ in their child’s education.
While fathers in all developed countries are less involved than mothers both in their children’s educational settings and in educational activities at home (for review, see Clark, 2009), in many instances his may be related less to gender than to work commitments: Peters et al (2008) found that while fathers overall were helping with homework less often than mothers there were no differences between mothers and fathers who worked full time. Similarly, Williams et al 2002) found % of full-time working fathers (compared with % of full-time working mothers) reporting feeling very involved in their child’s school life; and % of full-time working fathers (compared with % of full-time working mothers) helping out in classrooms.
It seems that fathers are involved more often than mothers in specific types of activities in their children’s out of school learning: such as building and repairing, hobbies, IT, maths and physical play (Goldman, 2005).
Fathers’ involvement and children’s educational attainment
Helping fathers be the ‘best fathers they can be’ is clearly of enormous importance to children; and positive outcomes in terms of children’s learning and achievement at school can be traced quite clearly to the quality of their fathers’ engagement with them. Just as poor parenting by fathers (and mothers) is associated with lower educational attainment by their children, so fathers’ affection, support, warm-but-firm parenting style and high levels of ‘parental sensitivity’are strongly related to their children’s better educational outcomes. For example:
- “School readiness” in young children is associated with high levels of paternal sensitivity, over and above mothers’ sensitivity (Campbell & von Stauffenberg, 2008)
- Fathers’ support for their children’s autonomy has been found (controlling for a range of variables) to be significantly and uniquely associated with higher levels of reading and mathematics achievement among Grade boys (NICHD, 2008).
Several reliable studies have shown high levels of interest by a father in his child’s schooling and education, his high expectations for their achievement and his greater direct involvement in their learning, education and schools to be associated with their better educational outcomes. These include: better exam / test / class results; higher levels of educational qualification; greater progress at school; better attitudes towards school (e.g. enjoyment); higher educational expectations; and better behaviour at school (e.g. reduced risk of suspension or expulsion). And these outcomes do not derive from the school-involved fathers already being richer or better educated. Whatever the father’s socio-economic level, his high involvement paid off.
One high quality study demonstrated that a father’s interest in his child’s education is one of the most important factors governing the qualifications he or she will grow up to have in adult life – more important than family background, the child’s individual personality, or poverty. It may well be that the time fathers actually spend with their children on homework and schooling could be more important for their eventual success than the money they bring into the household (for review see Goldman, 2005).
Here are some specific findings:
- A UK survey (Clark et al, 2009) reports children and young people claiming their fathers are the second most important people in their lives to inspire reading (second only to mothers).
- Frequency of fathers’ reading to – year olds is linked with their greater interest in books later (Lyytinen et al, ).
- A significant relationship is found between positive father engagement at age , and IQ and educational achievement at age (Gottfried et al, ).
- A father’s own education level is an important predictor of his child’s educational achievement .
- English fathers’ involvement with their children (at ages and ) correlates with better national examination performance at age (Lewis et al, ).
- US fathers’ involvement in routine childcare has been associated with children’s higher school grades (Hoffman & Youngblade, ).
- Low paternal interest in children’s education has a stronger negative impact on children’s lack of qualifications than contact with the police, poverty, family type, social class, housing tenure and child’s personality (Blanden, 2006).
Findings vary as to the relative importance of mothers’ v. fathers’ influence on educational attainment, with no consistent pattern emerging from the research evidence.
The following studies have charted more powerful influence from fathers than mothersin specific circumstances, although it must be remembered that the quality of these studies varies, and results may be specific to time and place:
In low income communities, fathers’ influence has been found to be more significant than mothers’ for boys’ (but not girls’) escape from disadvantage.
However, in a wider sample of children born in , fathers’ interest in their children’s educational outcomes when those children were aged predicted educational attainment in their year old daughters, but not their sons (Flouri, 2006).
Fathers exert greater influence than mothers on boys’ educational choices.
Fathers’ risk-avoidance behaviour has a positive impact on sons’ (but not daughters’) educational attainment (Yeung, 2004).
Fathers’ income predicts sons’ (but not daughters’) years of schooling (Yeung, 2004).
In hierarchical communities, fathers’ influence may be more powerful on children of both sexes.
While within-gender variation is enormous, and parents’ vocabulary use is far more powerfully affected by their education level than their sex, some studies suggest that fathers’ verbal interactions with their children may differ from mothers’; and that this may sometimes be to their children’s advantage. Fathers have been found to use different words with their children (Pancsofar & Vernon-Feagans, 2006); and also more abstract words (Lamb & Tamis-LeMonda, 2004). Topics may also vary by gender, with mothers referring more frequently to emotions (this was found to predict children’s emotional understanding) and fathers more often using causal explanatory language, which predicated their children’s theory of mind (LaBounty et al, 2008).
The belief that one can control much of what happens to oneself in life
Although biological fathers are of unique important to children – being one of the ‘two people who made me’ – ‘fathers’ in this report are defined widely to include father-figures and other males who are of significance to children in their care.
This is really important, as it helps isolate fathers’ influence from other influences.
None of this research shows that fathers are a more negative influence on children than mothers are (see Leinonen et al, 2003).
Fathers who exhibit ‘parental sensitivity’ generally function as a supportive presence, respect their children’s autonomy and exhibit low levels hostility towards them. This is more often found in men who were older when they first became fathers, hold less traditional child rearing beliefs and report more intimacy with their children’s mothers (NICHD, 2000).
McBride et al (2004) found father involvement in school settings mediates the relationship between school, family and neighbourhood factors and academic outcomes. This study is particularly interesting in that it not only looked at fathers’ involvement in terms of activities (‘volunteering’, ‘going on school trips’) but also measured frequency of fathers’ ‘talks with school officials’ as well as their ‘talks with the child’ about events and activities at school. All were associated with better child achievement (see also McBride et al, 2005).
While there may be a small genetic effect, the main reason is likely to be that a father’s education affects his behaviour in ways that are vital to his child’s cognitive development, as well as impacting on the material and educational resources he can provide (Yeung, 2004).
Fathers’ co-parenting behavior (defined as sharing similar attitudes with mothers toward childrearing practices and resolving family conflicts in a calm way that makes good use of compromise) may in part explain these findings: Yeung (2004) found a one point of increase in fathers’ co-parenting behaviour associated with an almost four-point increase in children’s test scores. Fathers’ co-parenting behaviour was second only to their education level in predicting good educational outcomes for children – and both proved more important than fathers’ income (Yeung, 2004).
In some studies fathers are found to be more influential; in others, mothers; and in yet others, parental influence seems to be equivalent.
For boys born into poverty, this high quality longitudinal UK study (which controlled for a range of factors, including mother’s interest in education) found having a father with little or no interest in his education reduced boys’ chances of escaping poverty by % (Blanden, 2006).
Dryler (). Mothers’ influence is more powerful for daughters.
Such as wearing seatbelts, having savings, and having car insurance.
Ang (2006) found Asian fathers’ (but not mothers’) approval, closeness and sympathy with their children associated with positive teacher-child relationships for both boys and girls.
Ang, R.P. (2006). Fathers do matter: evidence from an Asian school-based aggressive sample. American Journal of Family Therapy, , –.
Berdondini, L., & Smith, P.K. (). Cohesion and power in the families of children involved in bully-victim problems at school: an Italian replication, Journal of Family Therapy, , –.
Blanden, J. (2006). ‘Bucking the trend’: What enables those who are disadvantaged in childhood to succeed later in life? Working Paper No Corporate Document Services. London: Department for Work and Pensions.
Clark, C. (2009). Why fathers matter to their children’s literacy. London: National Literacy Trust.
Clark, C., Osborne, S. & Dugdale, G. (2009). Reaching out with role models. London: National Literacy Trust.
Dryler, H. (). Parental role models, gender and educational choice. British Journal of Sociology, (), –.
Flouri, E. (2005). Fathering & Child Outcomes. Chichester, West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons.
Flouri, E. (2006). Parental interest in children’s education, children’s self-esteem and locus of control, and later educational attainment: Twenty-six year follow-up of the British birth cohort. British Journal of Educational Psychology, , –.
Fortin, J., Ritchie, C., & Buchanan, A. (2006). Young adults’ perceptions of court-ordered contact. Child and Family Law Quarterly, (), –.
Goldman, R. (2005). Fathers’ Involvement in their Children’s Education. London: National Family and Parenting Institute.
Gorrell Barnes, G., Thompson, P., Daniel, G., & Burchardt, N. (). Growing up in Stepfamilies. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Guterman, N.B., & Lee, Y. (2005). The role of fathers in risk for physical child abuse and neglect: possible pathways and unanswered questions. Child Maltreatment, (), –.
Henderson, R. (2007). Father Figures Survey. Hamilton: South Lanarkshire Home School Partnership, Council Offices
Hoffman, L.W., & Youngblade, L.M. (). Mothers at work: Effects on children’s well-being. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Jaffee, S.R., Wolfe, D. & Wilson, S. (). Children of Battered Women. London: Sage Publications.
Kraemer, S. (2005): Narratives of fathers and sons: there is no such thing as a father. In A. Vetere & E. Dowling (eds.), Narrative Therapies with Children and their Families: A Practitioners Guide to Concepts and Approaches. London: Brunner/Routledge.
LaBounty, J., Wellman, H. M., Olson, S., Lagattuta, K. & Liu, D. (2008). Mothers’ “and” fathers’ use of internal state talk with their young children. Social Development, , –.
Lamb, M.E. & Tamis-LeMonda, C.S. (2004). The role of the father. In M.E. Lamb (ed.), The role of the father in child development (pp. –). New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.
Laumann-Billings, L.L., & Emery, R.E. (). Young adults’ painful feelings about parental divorce. Unpublished paper, University of Virginia.
Leinonen, J.A., Solantaus, T.S., & Punamaki, R.-L. (2003). Parental mental health and children’s mental health adjustment: the quality of marital interaction and parenting as mediating factors. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, , –.
Lewis, C., Newson, L J., & Newson, E. (). Father participation through childhood. In N. Beail & J. McGuire (eds.)., Fathers: Psychological Perspectives. London: Junction.
Lloyd, N., O’Brien, M., & Lewis, C. (2003). Fathers in Sure Start Local Programmes. Report National Evaluation of Sure Start. London: Birkbeck, University of London.
Lyytinen, P., Laasko, M., & Poikkeus, S. (). Parental contribution to child’s early language and interest in books. European Journal of Psychology of Education, , –.
McBride, B.A., Schoppe-Sullivan S.J., & Ho, M.H. (2005). The mediating role of fathers’ school involvement on students’ achievement. Applied Developmental Psychology, , –.
McBride, C.M., Baucom, D.H., Peterson, B.L. Pollack, K.I., Palmer, C., Westman, E. et al (2004). Prenatal and postpartum smoking abstinence: a partner-assisted approach. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, (), –.
McLanahan, S.S. (). Paternal absence or poverty: which matters more? In G. Duncan & J. Brooks-Gunn (eds.), Consequences of Growing Up Poor. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
McLanahan, S., & Teitler, J. (). The consequences of father absence. In M.E. Lamb (ed.), Parenting and Child Development in ‘Nontraditional Families’. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
National Center for Fathering (2009). Survey of fathers’ involvement in their children’s learning. View the summary
NICHD Early Child Care Research Network. (2000). Factors associated with fathers’ caregiving activities and sensitivity with young children. Journal of Family Psychology, .
NICHD Early Child Care Research Network. (2008). Mothers’ and fathers’ support for child autonomy and early school achievement. Developmental Psychology, ().
Pancsofar, N. and Vernon-Feagans, L. (2006), Mother and father language input to young children: contributions to later language development. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, , –.
Parke, R.D., Dennis, J., Flyr, J.L., Morris, K.L., Killian, C., McDowell, D.J., et al (2004). Fathering and children’s peer relationships. In M.E. Lamb (ed.), The Role of the Father in Child Development (th ed.). Hoboken NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Peters, M., Seeds, K., Goldstein, A. & Coleman, N. (2008). Parental Involvement in Children’s Education 2007. Research Report. DCSF RR.
Pleck, J.H., & Masciadrelli, B.P. (2004). Paternal Involvement by U.S. residential fathers: levels, sources and consequences. In M.E. Lamb (ed.), The Role of the Father in Child Development (th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Pryor, J., & Rodgers, B. (2001). Children in Changing Families: life after parental separation. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.
Sarkadi, A., Kristiansson, R., Oberklaid, F., & Bremberg, S. (2008).Fathers’ involvement and children’s developmental outcomes: a systematic review of longitudinal studies. Acta Paediatrica (), –.
Velleman, R. (2004). Alcohol and drug problems in parents: an overview of the impact on children and implications for practice. In M. Gopfert, J. Webster & M.V. Seeman (eds.), Parental Psychiatric Disorder: distressed parents and their families (nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Washbrook, L. (2007). Fathers, Childcare and Children’s Readiness to Learn. Working Paper No. /. Bristol: University of Bristol.
Williams, B., Williams, J. & Ullman, A. (2002). Parental involvement in education. RR . London: DfES.
Yeung, W.J. (2004). Fathers: an overlooked resource for children’s school success. In D. Conley & K. Albright (eds.), After the Bell: Solutions Outside the School. London: Routledge.
© The Fatherhood Institute, January 2009
Related articles by Zemanta
- Dads And Kids: How Do Fathers Relate Best With Younger Children (peterhbrown.wordpress.com)
- Why Mothers and Fathers Play Differently (parenting.blogs.nytimes.com)
It can be difficult for parents of teenagers to come to terms with the fact their kids may have sex, particularly given widespread concerns about the consequences of teen sexual activity. In fact, a new study from North Carolina State University shows that many parents think that their children aren’t interested in sex – but that everyone else’s kids are.
“Parents I interviewed had a very hard time thinking about their own teen children as sexually desiring subjects,” says Dr. Sinikka Elliott, an assistant professor of sociology at NC State and author of the study. In other words, parents find it difficult to think that their teenagers want to have sex.
“At the same time,” Elliott says, “parents view their teens’ peers as highly sexual, even sexually predatory.” By taking this stance, the parents shift the responsibility for potential sexual activity to others – attributing any such behavior to peer pressure, coercion or even entrapment.
For example, Elliott says, parents of teenage boys were often concerned that their sons may be lured into sexual situations by teenage girls who, the parents felt, may use sex in an effort to solidify a relationship. The parents of teenage girls, meanwhile, expressed fears that their daughters would be taken advantage of by sexually driven teenage boys.
These beliefs contribute to stereotypes of sexual behavior that aren’t helpful to parents or kids.
“By using sexual stereotypes to absolve their children of responsibility for sexual activity, the parents effectively reinforce those same stereotypes,” Elliott says.
Parents’ use of these stereotypes also paints teen heterosexual relationships in an unflattering, adversarial light, Elliott says and notes the irony of this: “Although parents assume their kids are heterosexual, they don’t make heterosexual relationships sound very appealing.”
A paper describing the study is published in the May issue of Symbolic Interaction. Elliott is also the author of the forthcoming book, Not My Kid: Parents and Teen Sexuality, which will by published by New York University Press.
Source: ScienceDaily (May 3, 2010)
Related articles by Zemanta
- Explicit teen tweets a clue for parents it may be time to talk sex: study (canada.com)
- Teen Myths Busted: New Science Reveals That Common Assumptions Are Wrong (peterhbrown.wordpress.com)
- Too Sexy Too Soon! PART I – Should Girls As Young As 9 Be Taken To Get Their Legs Waxed? (peterhbrown.wordpress.com)