Fathers are awesome, and there's no better time to re-realize just how important our dads are than on Father's Day. Whether we thank our dads with yet another tie or write up a poem of gratitude, the sentiment is always the same: you are who you are today because of your parents.
Both mothers and fathers have important roles in our lives, and depending on the role they took in their relationship with their partner, what we witnessed and learned, are different for each of us. Here are a few ways that dads (and their love) improve our lives, as verified by science, of course.
1. Dads inspire us to be ambitious and less traditional. You may not think it's a big deal that your dad does the cleaning and housework around the home, but considering society's prescription of gender "appropriate" chores, if your dad is the one behind the vacuum then he's really doing you a favor in the long run. Studies prove that the daughters of men who were all for playing the domestic role around the house are more likely to be ambitious, less likely to conform to traditional gender specific careers, and they make more money. Your dad may preach gender equality, and that's great! But if he practices it at home, too, then everyone wins.
2. Dads set the bar high when it comes to future relationships. People always say that women tend to date men who are very similar to their fathers, and there's a biological reason for it. As psychologist, Tanya Byron explains, "A daughter's first bonding with any man is with her father, and that imprints on her so strongly that any later relationships with men are filtered through that experience… We subconsciously gravitate towards a man who treats us like our father treated our mother, or us." Of course, no man will ever be as great as your dad, but if you can find a close second, then you're good to go.
3. Dads have your back when your self-esteem is in the gutter.
Teenagers are rarely easy and almost always a pain in the ass, so while some dads may choose to take a few steps back during those years, those who remain fervently present are the ones who are really helping their daughters out. Associate professor of philosophy at Eastern Kentucky University and editor of Fatherhood – Philosophy for Everyone: The Dao of Daddy, Michael Austin says that when it comes to body image issues, dads can make a huge differ with, "Verbal encouragement, being consistently present in her life, being alert and sensitive to her feelings, taking time to listen to her thoughts and taking an active interest in her hobbies." Fathers who are actively engaged in the lives of their children can expect their kids to have increased confidence and belief in themselves, and in a society where positive body image is a struggle for everyone this is especially important.
4. Dads keep you out of "trouble." Although, I guess it depends on what you consider "trouble," but either way, multiple studies have found that girls who have close and healthy relationships with their fathers avoid "risky" behavior like substance abuse, drunk sex, and unprotected sex, which of course leads to less STDs and unwanted pregnancies. So, maybe all those purity pledges between fathers and daughters pay off?
5. Dads who 'horse around' are more in tune. Not only is physical activity important to keep everyone fit and happy, but according to the authors of The Art of Roughhousing: Good Old Fashion Horseplay and Why Every Kid Needs It, "When a father and child work together to master a complicated flip like the Houdini or the Red Tornado, they both gain a sense of accomplishment from paying close attention to each other's emotions and cues. The result is a feeling of closeness that benefits both father and child." I have no idea what a Houdini flip is, but it sounds like a good time and something I plan to try with my dad the next time I see him.
6. Dads who are around for family meals make for healthy kids. How dads eat, even when they're not with their kids, has a big impact on how kids not only eat themselves, but how they view food. While studies have found that dads who eat fast food have kids who don't value proper meals, but other research has also found that dads who engage in family meals at least a couple times of week have kids who value the importance of family time and healthy eating.