Dads should spend more time with kids

Dads should spend more time with kids

By Arner Ang

January offers a fresh start. It’s the time to take stock of what we are doing and more importantly, why we are doing it. Maybe our goal is to raise a successful child, one that would grow up to be accomplished, wealthy and renowned in his field. But are these the “right” goals?

As fathers, we want what’s best for our children. And we do it by working hard to provide for what they need, to allow them to study in the best schools and to become successful in their chosen fields. I heard a story before of a well-intentioned dad who worked as an OFW to do just that. He sent money for all the things his son needed. But sometime during his teen years, he got into the wrong crowd and his life headed on a downward trajectory. He shared in his speech after recovery that he didn’t need his dad’s money, he needed his dad.

Was this the success the father dreamed of? The silent cry of the child was for his father’s presence, guidance and emotional support, and not the remittance slip. I do not discount that the dad needed to do this for practical reasons, but he failed to see the risk of his absence in his child’s life. We may not be OFWs, but at times we might be emotionally absent too. We bring home the bacon, then take a backseat to our fatherhood duties. Based on the research by FIRA (Father Involvement Research Alliance) in The World Needs A Father (A Trainer’s Guide) by Cassie Carstens, “it concludes that children with involved fathers fare better emotionally, cognitively and physically.” Even the concept of God comes from fathers.  An emotionally present father who has a solid relationship with his children is a critical key to building up emotionally strong and resilient children, and he allows them to be led to believing in God more easily.

Parents’ expiration date

Based on The World Needs a Father (a global movement for fatherhood), parents are a primary influence on children only until they are 11 years old, after which they transition off to peers as main influencers. Fathers only have this much time to build up their children, and imbibe the right values that will guide them for the rest of their lives.

A driver once shared a story with me. He used to be in the military and was assigned in Mindanao for a significant part of his life. I asked him why he retired at such a young age, he seemed like he was in his late 40’s. He was concerned about his 16-year-old son, who spent a lot of his time with friends. He wasn’t confident that his son is equipped to make the right decisions because he was not there to guide him while he was growing up. He was very downcast and regretful as he shared this.

Although we can’t turn back time, there is always hope to restore this strained relationship and find a way to steer our children back on the right course.

Raising happy and healthy kids

As fathers, we are hardwired to provide financially for our family. Though, we should not neglect providing for the other aspects of our children. As emotional quotient (EQ) trumps intelligence quotient (IQ) in the world today, sometimes this might even become important. Based on research and numerous articles, fathers impact worth, values, and purpose. Like your car’s GPS, these will guide our children with or without us. It will be part of their inner voice when they grow up.

We all have goals to raise our kids to be happy and healthy. But the question is, what do these goals really translate to?

  • Physical – being healthy and fit
  • Intellectual – being analytical and critical and having good problem solving skills
  • Emotional – managing own emotions, being self-assured, purposeful, and resilient to stress, and having a can-do attitude
  • Social – being able to manage oth ers’ emotions, collaborate, and influence others for a good purpose
  • Spiritual – having a deep faith, trust, and a close relationship with God

Happy entails that they are equipped to tackle challenges and find their purpose in their lives. They are resilient to ups and downs, and find their fulfillment in making an impact to others. Healthy means having good emotional and psychological well-being and being physically fit.

About the writer: Arnold Ang, fondly called Arner by his friends, is a master trainer, board member, and speaker of the Philippine chapter of The World Needs a Father. It’s a global movement focused on fatherhood. He is a loving husband to Melissa and father to Remy and Kenzi, and a furdad to Cody.