This weekend we honor dads. No matter what the culture tells you, dads play an important role in the healthy development of children. Strong families have strong dads.

Here are five of the many reasons dads are so important:

1) When fathers are involved in the lives of their children, every measure of child well-being improves. Educational achievement, cognitive development, self-esteem, and prosocial behavior are all impacted in positive ways. Everything from staying out of jail to holding down a job after high school improves. The presence of a father in a child’s life is significant.

2) Healthy fathers serve as a protective factor against child abuse. They take the burden off the other parent when stress mounts. They also provide economic support. And they serve as role models for their children. They teach their children how to respect their mother by modeling love and respect.

3) Dads play uniquely with their children. They take more risks and are much more physical. In addition, a father will allow a child to become frustrated and struggle, aiding in the development of self-mastery.

4) Fathers bring an element of competition to play. This is not to say women aren’t competitive. I certainly am, but there is a striking difference in how I handle competition from my husband. I am much more concerned about the person’s well-being and won’t push the competitive advantage at times. Dads are more apt to push competition for the sake of a win and to test limits.

5) Fathers push children to be more independent and take chances. My mom worried more about my independence while my dad promoted it. I needed that push to independence from my dad. And my husband has done the same for our children. Dads encourage exploring the world around you and to take risks.

So, this Father’s Day, think of positive ways your father has or had influence in your life. Then tell him. Mine is this: my dad didn’t meet a person he didn’t want to know. He was always interested in people and made it a point to treat them with kindness.

However, the most important thing my father taught me was the importance of faith in my life. He lived out his faith in a Christ-like fashion. He acted rather than giving lip service to the Christian life. Church was always a priority. Tithing was a normal part of our finances. And serving in the church was a constant. He quietly served behind the scenes in the most mundane ways.

To my father, who is no longer with me, you provided me with practical but also eternal lessons of faith and modeled them well. Your constant presence and engagement in my life provided me security and safety and a healthy role model to choose my husband. Your legacy lives through my family.

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