For decades, sociologists conducting research on the family have concentrated on the effect that a father’s absence has on children. Eventually, they decided that they needed to pay more attention to the positive effects that fathers’ involvement has on their children’s lives.
To do that, it was necessary to create a model of what involved fatherhood looks like. The University of Wisconsin-Madison describes the three components of the Involved Fatherhood Model.
Involved fathers ensure that the children have their basic needs fulfilled. They participate in making decisions relating to child-rearing and recognize that they are ultimately responsible for their children’s welfare.
Shared activities, including play, are one way that involved fathers engage with their children positively. However, involved fatherhood is not all fun and games. It also involves changing diapers and other caregiving tasks.
According to Fatherly.com, the positive engagement can begin even before the child’s birth. For example, fathers who actively support their partners during pregnancy and labor create a stronger attachment with their newborn babies.
Involved fatherhood means being present and accessible for their children even when not interacting directly. For example, the child may be playing nearby as the father cooks dinner.
When a father does not live with his children full time, maintaining a high level of involvement can be a challenge, but it is not impossible. Shared legal custody helps him take responsibility for his children’s welfare, while parenting time allows him to be accessible to his children and engage positively with them. Research shows that the quality of a father’s interactions with his children is at least as important as the quantity.