Dad (copy)

Happy Father’s Day to all those dads out there who are doing their best to raise happy, successful kids. Today’s dads have evolved from the traditional role of yesteryear’s breadwinner who left in the morning and returned home at night. For children growing up in past eras, Dad often was seen as someone remote, the guy who was only around to eat dinner, watch the news and kiss you good night. On the weekends, he’d mow the lawn and do stuff around the house. Sometimes during the weekends or on summer vacation, he’d join in on a pickup baseball game or spend a Saturday night weaving a spine-tingling, spooky ghost story. But those times always seemed too short and too far apart.

Today’s dads are far more involved. The 21st-century father often is just as adept as Mom at changing diapers and driving car pools. He can help with homework, burb a baby or explain a baseball umpire’s call as the need arises. For too long, dear old Dad was regarded as someone who did little in the day-to-day running of the home. Mom was the caregiver, the cook, the chauffeur, the dishwasher and the laundress. Dad’s more active participation in family life has been welcomed by all—even Dad.

But research has shown that fathers are much more than just an extra set of hands. Dads play a vitally important role in child-rearing. Not only is their presence as a second adult usually a significant factor in a family’s income, good fathers also serve as positive male role models. Countless studies, from Harvard to Pew to Focus on the Family, have shown that children raised with actively involved fathers are far more likely to grow into emotionally secure, socially confident, well-adjusted adults. Kids raised with hands-on dads tend to have better verbal skills, do better academically and are less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol.

Sure, dads can have a different parenting style. They might play a little rougher with kids. Have you ever seen a mom gasp with horror when a dad tossed a laughing baby into the air? But really, have you ever seen Pops drop the baby? While most mothers tend to worry about the unseen dangers that might be lurking when the kids go out to play, fathers usually are the ones to say, “Let her go, she’ll be fine.”

And it’s usually Dad who imparts the most basic rules of living to kids, such as the old adage “Life’s not fair.” Fathers are less likely to contact a teacher over a bad grade or do a parental intervention when two children are squabbling. They tend to freak out less when stitches are needed and be more pragmatic when confronted with tears and tantrums. All in all, we think dads are pretty phenomenal parents.

If you’re fortunate enough to have your dad close by, spend some time with him today—we have it on good authority he’d appreciate that a lot more than another tie.

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Richmond Times-Dispatch