A Father’s Influence in the Battle Against Childhood Obesity
"Wait until your father gets home!" If this has a familiar ring to it then
you are probably about my age.
Waiting for Dad to get home is about the same as waiting for the arrival
of an executioner. Something bad is on the way, but you can’t predict
exactly when it will come.
There is much anxiety in waiting for your father to get home and, for
the most part, the anxiety itself turned out to be the punishment. Most
of the time dad was pretty reasonable, and the murder that had been
promised never came to pass. There was punishment, but it was never the
slaughter that Mom had predicted. But the anxiety of the wait kept us
looking over our shoulders and jumping at shadows the whole time.
Fathers have a traditional role in the raising of a child. The
stereotype may not be as accurate as it once was whereas Dads have
become more nurturing since my childhood, but the stereotype does still
exist and in many instances is factual. Fathers work hard, are the
family disciplinarians, and when they engage with their kids they do so
in playful, goofy ways.
And sometimes still, if children are misbehaved, they may have to wait
until their fathers get home. So then, what happens if Dad won’t be
A Father’s Influence on the Household
Both parents have critical roles in the raising of children, but for the
moment we are going to focus on the contributions of fathers. Half of the children in the United States will spend at least some time
in a single parent household. Unfortunately, the children in this
divided households receive less parental time and resources. A father’s involvement is associated with improved cognitive skills,
behavior, and academics among children.
A father’s financial support allows for greater family resources such as
books and toys that promote learning. In addition, better finance
translates into living in safer neighborhoods with better schools and
More financial resources can reduce a mother’s level of stress and
improve parenting. Finally, nurturing fathers enhance a child’s
psychological well-being, which can in turn improve cognitive skills,
behavior, and academic achievement.
Low-income families are disproportionately represented in single-mother
households and this puts the children at a much higher risk for obesity.
Children raised in two-parent married households have an obesity rate of
17% while children living in a single-mother household have an obesity
rate of 23%. Furthermore, children living with cohabitating parents have
an obesity rate of 31% while children living with an adult relative have
a 29% obesity rate.
These higher rates of childhood obesity in nontraditional parent families presented even after factors relating to childhood obesity such as diet,
physical activity, and socioeconomic status had been accounted for.
Fathers are important in maintaining the good health of their children,
and in the follow-up post to this article, Dads Making a Difference in
the Fight Against Childhood Obesity, we will explore the subject a bit
Living life well-fed,
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Published On: April 21, 2014