A dad's role in their child's emotional intelligence.
The importance of emotional intelligence.
Many researchers over the years have emphasised the importance of emotional interactions in the parent-child dyad and the great impact it has on a child's well-being. Parents need to take an active role in teaching their children key skills in developing emotional intelligence. The consequences of failing to learn the basics are intermingling dire, for example, an inability to handle anxiety or depression can increase the chance of children abusing drugs or alcohol later on in life. However, children who are taught by their parents to be emotionally intelligent are more able to regulate their own emotions. They were better at focusing their attention, and could relate more to other people and performed better academically in school. Parents who offered empathy in the face of their child showing negative feelings such as anger, sadness or fear, actually built bridges of loyalty and affection between themselves and their child. For years the focus has been on the mother-child relationship but it is being noted how a father's role can also be crucial in their child's emotional well-being.
Father's relate differently to their children than mother's do and so can influence their child's development differently. For example, a father's type of play can take babies on an emotional rollercoaster, the child learns the thrill of being scared, with dad chasing after them, but in a safe space, they can watch and react to dad's cues which prepares them for the wider world and as mentioned above helps them to begin reading other people's emotions, (Brazelton and Yogman, 1986). Another example is how dads care for their children during the early newborn days. Many mums seem to take charge of the baby's care during the first few months but studies show that a father's early involvement can strengthen their bond with their child. Mum's must allow dads to have their own style of looking after the baby if they are to have a close bond with them, (Beitel and Parke, 1998). For example, if the dad is struggling to soothe the baby then perhaps they need more time together without mum to get to know each other's cues. Most mums would rush in to take over if the baby was not settling well with dad but rather than helping this leaves dad feeling left out and inadequate.
Research has also shown that boys who have absent father's have a harder time balancing assertiveness and self-restraint. A father who is present in his daughter's lives has also shown to make it more likely for those daughters to forge healthy relationships when they are older. Blanchard and Biller (1971), conducted a study that showed how the influence of father's on young boys helped with their academic achievement when their fathers were available and present in their lives.
How can dad's help?
- By becoming aware of the details of their children's lives, they can lend their child emotional support and guidance.
- They can influence through play as dad's play styles seem more physical and exciting than mum's.
- Dad's can become more involved during pregnancy.
- Listening empathetically and helping their children label their feelings and guiding them in ways to handle their negative feelings.
There are many benefits to a father's role in their child's life in regards to structuring their child's emotional intelligence. This can begin during pregnancy before the child is even born. Luckily there is growing emphasis on the father's role as more than just the main breadwinner of the 1950's dad.
Beitel, A. H., & Parke, R. D. (1998). Paternal involvement in infancy: The role of maternal and paternal attitudes. Journal of Family Psychology, 12(2), 268–288. https://doi.org/10.1037/0893-3126.96.36.1998
Blanchard, R. W., & Biller, H. B. (1971). Father availability and academic performance among third-grade boys. Developmental Psychology, 4(3), 301–305. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0031022
Brazelton, T. B., & Yogman, M. W. (Eds.). (1986). Affective development in infancy. Ablex Publishing.