Recently, I read the book, “Do Fathers Matter? What Science is Telling Us About the Parent We’ve Overlooked.” The author, Paul Raeburn, describes the latest research covering fatherhood. In describing various benefits, Raeburn creatively brings to life unique aspects of the father-child relationship that positively impact the family in particular, and society in general. It’s a great read!
In relation to language development, how valuable could the father’s involvement be? Raeburn reveals it to be almost prophetic. The advanced language of three year olds stems from their expressiveness at 15 months. And this can be traced to their father’s use of vocabulary and amount of time spent reading picture books when his child was only six months of age.
Raeburn also describes character development, especially courage. And he gives a unique twist to the adage, “child’s work is child’s play.” Often fathers’ play involves some form of uncertainty or surprise element that helps children become more confident. “Father’s unpredictability in play helps children learn to be brave in difficult situations or when meeting new people.” (Pg. 149, italics mine.)
I wonder what would happen if dads combined their unique style of play with books. Beginning with a rough-and-tumble time with their children (followed by a cool down), then they could read a fun story together. Raeburn's research predicts amazing benefits. This combination would build bravery in the child’s heart and excite them about the adventurous world of reading.