Benefits of Father Involvement in the Lives of Children of Family Separation

Benefits of Father Involvement Post Divorce

Benefits of Father Involvement in the Lives of Children of Family Separation

Ann Marie Termini, Ed., M.S., LPC

 father and two children in arms

A father’s relationship with his children following divorce is a potential protective factor for children. Children of fathers with greater paternal involvement who are supportive, set limits, practice effective discipline, who communicate at a personal level, and help with homework, have shown to have higher academic performance, a more positive adjustment, and fewer acting-out or internalizing problems (depression, withdrawal and anxiety) than children with less paternal involvement (Amato & Gilbreth, 1999). In general, research results that reported positive relationships between children and their fathers were associated with more time together, history of involvement and a stable time-sharing arrangement (Whiteside & Becker).

Both the quality and the quantity of involvement on the part of the father result in a number of benefits to children of divorce. According to Amato (2000), Carlson (2006), and Menning, (2006) the quality of relationship and type of activities between the child and a nonresidential parent is a better predictor of adjustment and good academics. The amount of time, as well as the time period shared between father and children, controls the opportunities for the type of father-child interactions. For instance, fathers who enjoy over-night care get the experience of engaging in warm and nurturing activities such as the ability to feed, bathe, and participate in a bedtime routine. The child’s emotional security and quality of the father-child relationship is determined by the interactions and fathers’ responsiveness to their children (Amato, 2000; Carlson, 2006; Fabricius et al, 2012, Menning, 2006). As a result, child outcomes are associated with these factors.

Key published works found that fathers with appropriate opportunities to be involved in their children’s lives do not drop out of their lives. On the contrary, when fathers do dropout of their children’s lives, there are enhanced chances of lifelong psychological, social and economic consequences for children (Pruett and Kelly, 2012).

Children of divorce appear to desire a continuing relationship with their fathers. Reports consistently find that the main complaint expressed by children is the loss of regular contact with their father (Kelly, 1993). Children are dissatisfied with infrequent contact with the nonresidential parent, who is typically the father. Children of divorce want additional time and longer contact with the non-residential parent. Reported findings by Peterson and Zill (1986), Wallerstein and Kelly (1980) found continued contact with competent fathers to be associated with improved psychological scores, fewer behavioral problems, and better peer relationships.   Fathers enhance a child’s life by providing economic recourses, emotional support, guidance and supervision.

Father Involvement and Other Informative Findings from Research on Children’s Adjustment to Divorce (Some material taken from “The Psychotherapist as Parent Coordinator in High-Conflict Divorce: Strategies and Techniques”, Boyan and Termini)

Behavioral Functioning

         Higher levels of father involvement associated with:

  • Fewer behavioral problems
  • Reduced contact with juvenile justice system
  • Delay in initial sexual activity, reduced teen pregnancy
  • Reduced rate of divorce
  • Less reliance on aggressive conflict resolution

Academic Functioning

  • Father involvement linked to better behavior & academic functioning
  • Greater variety of activities with adolescent lowered school failure
  • Ongoing school-related discussions (grades, homework, other issues) most significant in lowering probability of school failure
  • Higher grade completion and income
  • Math competence in girls
  • Verbal strength in boys and girls (Anguiano, 2004; Menning, 2002, 2006)

Emotional Functioning

        Higher levels of father involvement associated with:

  • Better communication and social skills in children ages 4 to 6
  • Greater problem-solving competence and stress tolerance
  • Greater empathy, greater moral sensitivity, and reduced gender stereotyping
  • Increased frustration tolerance
  • Fewer angry outbursts

2 thoughts on “Benefits of Father Involvement in the Lives of Children of Family Separation

  1. My son was married for 15 yrs, to his first girlfriend, and blessed with 2 beautiful girls
    He comes from divorced parents 2 other siblings brother and a sister, the wife from a family of 5 girls all were belted by their father and witnessed their father belt the crap out of their mother

    My son and his siblings were bought up with liberal ideals with an out look on life to never judge others without first looking in their own back yard so to speak
    My eldest son is a no nonsense sort a bloke respects women but if ever badgered and incited to do an act beyond his own mental capabilities’ he would pack his bags and walk rather than retaliate. He met a woman of the same character thank God,( she has 2 grown children ) . They decided not to have children this is her second marriage my son’s first. His nik-name is The Gentle Giant, my youngest son’s 2 little girls call him Uncle Teddy Bear

    My youngest son is a timid and yet confident sort of man has tons of friend from all walks of life and had a successful career. He use to submit everything to his wife and had a lot of trust and faith in her decision abilities on behalf of himself and children. He would never stand up for his own principles when it came to disagreements so to keep the peace he would just leave the decision making up to her and get on with what ever she wanted done and what ever demands were imposed.This is the son I’m concerned about when it comes to the new Domestic Violent Orders.
    Yes they are separated and after 10 months she decided to take out a domestic violent order to stop him seeing the girls, this was after he had access to their children when ever he could get back from his work commitments, every couple of weeks. The daughters love and adore their Dad and when he is away from them he frets for them. Before his career took off he would come home and cook and clean and put the girls to bed read them a book or sometimes just make up a bed time story. He would take over most duties of the house hold chores and drop the girls off to day care and most times beside myself pick them up. One only know’s how an impact this is all going to have on them. ( the daughters )

    My daughter – in – law

    She is a person that was use to getting her own way, nothing was done without her approval. It was her choice where they bought their first house, what day care and now school the girls would attend. She would attend University and go into the same profession as her sister’s

    Three out of the 5 sisters suffer mental illness issues such as severe anxiety and stress disorders. My daughter-in-law inflicts self harm and has for over 15 years thank God she told her mother she does it to herself but some how I believe the family believe my son beats her
    All sister’s including my son’s wife don’t take criticism too well and take on a defensive attitude and will intimidate in a pack. Their mother is the center of their lives and comes before marriage, I believe this would have stemmed from their experience of watching their mother abused on many occasion during their child hood by the father

    Christmases, mothers/fathers days, Easter, christenings, birthdays no matter what the cerebration all in-laws would be invited. I like my privacy and love my own space sort of person and even my children don’t impose on my own idealism. If my children wanted to spend Christmases with their partners and in-laws be my guess Boxing day would suit me fine, some times we would meet before Festive seasons just with a BBQ.

    Out of all the in-laws I was the one to say hey enough I want to have my time with my family on my own thank you, well that was a big mistake with this family.
    My Grandchildren would ask me why I never came to the parties cause they missed me I told them I was happy to see them on my special day and left it at that.

    Since my son and his wife’s separation there were times we were both amicable towards each other and there were times when I just could not tolerate her berating of my son, so I’d say what I felt and the consequences was not seeing the girls for weeks on end
    The same with my son, be on call at all times for her manipulative games or mood or what ever was going on with her at the time. My son would call and she would tell everyone he never calls the girls, he would call and leave messages and text to see the girls and again she would tell everyone she had never heard from him and yet I seen all the evidence he saved it on his mobile.

    This woman went as far as destroying my son’s career and reputation and credibility
    ‘it is sole destroying’. For my son to get back to normality it is going to cost me his mother thousands of dollars and it just took her a written Domestic Violence Order done up by her and most probably her vindictive sister’s, to submitting it before the magistrate at the courthouse

    You see domestic violence comes in all disorders when an act is ruled for one gender only it’s not just unfair but immoral as well. It is not just the fathers caught up in all of this it’s the Grandparents as well. Where are the Grand Parents rights in all of this may I ask?

    I was involved in Women’s business all my working life I walked away from it all because to me it was all one sided, and it was the feminist that spoke out the loudest, mostly those who had no children nor male partners. My up bringing was simple and straight forward. It you want respect then you have respect and show respect where it is due
    My Prayers are for my granddaughters to come through all this and with me helping my son get his daughters, and with the soundness of mind without damage from people that cannot see clear and look within their own battles of self infliction

    I am a strong activist on marriage counselling before marriage and counselling before children. It is a big responsibility for both partners before they commit and there are lots of consequences that come from a noncommittal marriage and unskilled parenting

    Grandmother of Seven

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