How men can get more involved in their children's lives.
For about 100 years, there's been a movement to make fathers less aloof. In fact, the term "dad," first used in the early 1900s, suggests that fathers can be buddies and playmates to their children and not stern taskmasters. Since then, dad has replaced father in the lexicon of parenting, and in two-parent families the role of playing with the kids has been added to the role of backup for Mom.
Too often, fathers aren't expected to do the hard work of raising responsible children—the down-and-dirty work of making sure they do their chores and homework, of making sure they show respect for others, of finding opportunities for them to contribute to their communities. Yet it's worth the effort for fathers to become more involved and connected with their children and exert more influence on the children's lives. Here are some ideas for how to do it:
Many fathers are operating at about one-third capacity, mostly because of cultural expectations. But children best become citizens of families and communities when they have a hands-on father who can do all the jobs of being a parent.
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William J. Doherty directs the marriage and family therapy program at the University of Minnesota, where he is a professor in the Department of Family Social Science. He is the author of Putting Family First, Take Back Your Marriage, and several other books. He is a member of Unity Church–Unitarian in St. Paul, Minnesota.
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