The COVID-19 pandemic has been a difficult and stressful time for families, but we're seeing one silver lining when it comes to fathers and their kids.
Nearly 70% of dads in a recent study from the Harvard Graduate School of Education say they're feeling closer to their kids right now.
The dads have had to be home more than usual, but one of the people involved with the study also believes it's helping that dads may be less distracted with work than they usually are.
Also, parents' social lives have changed, so they're doing things with their kids they may have done with their friends previously.
Dads in the study say they're also getting to know their kids better. More than half say they're spending more time talking to their children about things that are important to them.
“I think we're all better parents when we know our kids better,” said Richard Weissbourd, who directs the Making Caring Common Project at Harvard. “I mean it's respectful to enable our kids to really speak, but we also learn a lot about them and it deepens our relationships with them and it also helps us I think in being mentors and guides to them when they make key decisions in their lives.”
The Making Caring Common Project is a national effort to make moral and social development priorities in raising kids.
Weissbourd is worried there will be a strong pull to return to our normal lives and dads' relationships won't continue in the same way.
But you can take steps now to keep those bonds.
“I really encourage fathers to establish rituals and routines with their kids now, like if you're going for a walk every weekend with your kid, continue doing that even when the pandemic is over,” said Weissbourd. “If you're playing games with your kid, develop a ritual around playing games with your kids or activities.”
He says more fathers are also watching TV with their kids and talking with them about what's going on in the world surrounding the pandemic and the protests. He's hopeful that ritual will continue too.