A common concern amongst single dads is finding ways to be a part of their children’s lives in a meaningful way during non-parenting time. This is especially challenging for military dads, who find themselves deployed overseas for long periods of time; it can be distressing for them to feel like they’re not as active in the lives of their children as they’d like. A study about regular storytime may hold part of the answer, and inspire some creative ways to allay this concern.
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A recent article by Motherly highlighted a poignant study published in the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology. According to the study, dads who regularly read to their children saw an increase in their good behavior, as well as a refinement in their own parenting skills. Additionally, they found that being regularly read to by their fathers increased learning-readiness for children, and boosted their vocabularies.
The study assessed a total of 126 dads enrolled in a program called Fathers Supporting Success in Preschoolers, which promotes more father-child story time. The control group was waitlisted so the research team could closely monitor the difference between the families reading together regularly, and those who weren’t.
The researchers found that, amongst fathers who began regularly reading bedtime stories, praise and affection towards their kids increased after story time, while critical statements towards their children declined. That is to say, regular reading strengthened the overall bond between father and child, improving the overall relationship. Additionally, the improved interaction between the fathers and their children resulted in better behavior amongst the children. They found that overall interactions were more productive, and less tense.
On top of all of the behavioral changes, researchers found a significant improvement in language development among the children receiving regular stories from their fathers. The research team concluded that this time spent together strengthened the parent-child bond, and provided an overall benefit to both dads and kids.
How can single fathers take advantage of this? The good news is, you don’t have to be physically with your children to read them a bedtime story. There are live options, such as FaceTime and Skype, or, you can pre-record videos of you reading your child’s favorite books, for them to watch while you’re apart (especially good for deployed dads who may be dealing with huge time zone differences). You can read the study in its entirety here.