I read an intriguing article published in Reader's Digest titled "What Dads Are Made Of."The article surmises how parenting styles of dads tend to be moreunconventional, framing dads as the more likely to parent outside thebox.

In general, we're opposite of moms who tend to be more concernedwith nurturing and creating law and order. But for all our mischief,the article points out, dads are doing something very right. The samedaddy-like interactions that may annoy moms significantly contribute toa child's social skills and success in school.

"Children's social, physical and intellectual developmentsignificantly benefits from the involvement of fathers," Kyle Pruett,MD, professor of child psychiatry at Yale and author of "**Fatherneed,"notes in the article. The intellectual gains are measurable as early asthe first year of life and continue to show up through high school,especially when dads, together with moms, are actively involved inschool and learning.**

The experts tend to believe fathers create this intelligenceadvantage, as well as many others, in three important ways: how theyplay, interact in everyday situations and teach.

In play, the article discussed how fathers tend to be more arousingand unpredictable with kids from the start. They rock infants more androll around with them in floor play. **Babies as young as 8 weeks oldnotice the difference between a mom's protectiveness and a dad'sstimulation. When pediatric researcher Michael W. Yogman, MD,videotaped 2-month-olds, for example, the infants showed special signsof excitement when their fathers approached. Further "rough and tumble"play with dad has benefits in teaching a child strengths andlimitations. "Kids who learn these early social skills from theirfathers do better with peers," said Ross Parke, distinguished professorof psychology at the University of California, Riverside and author of"Fatherhood." **

The article also discussed how "Dad as explorer and expert" helpschildren explore and understand their world beyond their own backyard.From our earliest moments, dads help us face the world, differing, forexample, in how they tend to hold their infants out, which whichprovides a broader view of the sights and sounds around them. Otherhelpful contrasting styles include a dad asking his child for help withyard work, opening the door to informal teachable moments about biologyand botany. Kids value the information and novelty, and theirconversations about real things – what educators call "science processtalk" – create the curiosity and problem-solving skills needed forscience and math.

With regard to "Dad as unique teacher," the shortage of maleteachers in preschools and elementary schools means most kids miss outon the unique competence men can share making it even more importantfor dads to be involved at home. Reading together is one way to dothis. The books a father selects and how he reads them and talks aboutthem strongly influence kids' language development, reading skills andgeneral knowledge, according to Pruett.

Experts agree "daddy-style" reading makes an academic difference.The article noted that a Michigan study found that girls whose fathersread to them showed much higher verbal skills and the stakes for boysmight be even higher. When a father doesn't model reading, a son maybelieve reading is not an activity meant for males and when boys don'tread for pleasure, it's further consequential to their fluency, wordrecognition and knowledge base.

The article talked about the importance of encouraging time withDad. Parke suggested that while moms might sometimes be concerned abouthow that will affect sleep, safety or cleanliness, they should picktheir battles and remember that dads engage more with their children"when they're considered partners in parenting and not merely helpers;let a father choose the activity and he'll be much more enthusiastic."

Even when it's a "split" household, a dad's presence in hischildren's lives remains vital. "We have a saying: There areex-husbands but no ex-fathers," Parke said. The studies on divorce arequite clear: Children do well when they know their father cares. Forexample, he can supplement physical time with telephone calls, lettersor e-mails.

Parke concludes that while moms and dads are different "theirdistinctive styles of caretaking complement each other perfectly to theadvantage of children."

I agree. Kids need the healthy involved parenting of both parents.

Source: The Detroit News – http://tinyurl.com/ca247x