Thursday, January 20, 2005

Relationships with both parents important

From the Tullahoma News

Relationships with both parents important
By Belinda Riddle

The number of children living only with their mother has more than tripled in the past 30 years. The number living only with their father has also increased. In some cases, one parent completely disappears from a child's life after divorce, more often the father.

There are several reasons why fathers become less involved. First, courts are still more likely to award custody to mothers. Second, some mothers discourage fathers from being involved with their children. Third, fathers may think they are not important to their children. Lastly, families are often separated by distance as one parent moves to another town or state.

According to Denise Brandon, UT Extension family relations specialist, both parents play an important role in their child's development. Mothers and fathers often parent differently and influence their child's growth and maturity in different ways.

For instance, experts say that mothers and fathers often carry their infant children differently. Often, dads carry them facing outward, so the child can see the world around them. Mothers tend to hold infants facing inward in a more protective way. Fathers help children to solve problems. Mothers tend to focus on their children's feelings. Children need what both parents provide to develop properly.

Children who have involved, loving fathers are more likely to do well in school, have a healthy self-esteem, show care for others and have better social skills. They are less likely to engage in high-risk behaviors such as drug use, skipping school and criminal activity.

When it is safe for the child, it is important for parents who divorce to do everything they can to allow their children time with both parents. This may be difficult, especially if there is a lot of conflict between parents, however children need to know that they still have two parents and a family, even though all do not live together.

Children need to be encouraged by their parents to have a loving relationship with both parents. Children are more likely to grow up as well-adjusted adults, if they've had a close relationship with both parents.

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