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Kids thrive when dads play

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Daughter and father doing homework

Father might not always know best, but he certainly knows what’s good for his children — just as much as Mom.

So says a recent report by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

In fact, mounting evidence shows fathers’ interaction with their children leads to huge health rewards that complement the mother's role.

"Fathers really have a quite impressive impact on their children's health, including how well they do in school, how well they get along with friends, and whether children run into problems like substance abuse or delinquency," co-author Dr. Michael Yogman told the academy in its article.

The report encourages pediatricians to initiate conversations with men and encourage their involvement, starting at birth.

The academy — which defines "father" broadly as the man or men most involved in caring for the child, regardless of the living situation or biological relation — suggests fathers influence their children in some of the following ways:

  • More likely to introduce new words, which can speed language development. In fact, a father’s communication with his 3-year-old can predict language development.
  • Rough-and-tumble play may encourage exploration and taking safe risks. (Calmer interactions with mothers provide safety and balance.)
  • Adolescents of involved fathers are less prone to high-risk behavior and to suffer from depression. Girls show a decreased risk of early puberty, early sexual experiences and pregnancy.

American Academy of Pediatrics

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