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Fathers Should Ask Kids: ‘Am I The Dad You Need Me To Be?’

SAN FRANCISCO (UPI) — How fathers act and respond to children is perceived differently among girls, boys and ethnic groups so a U.S. expert suggests fathers ask for feedback.

Jeff Cookston, a professor of psychology at San Francisco State University, said there’s a need for fathers to sometimes ask their kids: “How am I doing?” “Am I the dad you need me to be?”

“The meaning that children take from the parenting may be as important, or more important, than the behavior of the parents,” Cookston said in a statement. “You may think that you’re being a good parent by not being harsh on your kid, but your child may view that as ‘you’re not invested in me, you’re not trying.’”

Cookston and former graduate student Andrea Finlay examined how adolescents viewed their fathers’ actions — specifically, whether the teens attribute these actions to a dad’s overall character or to his reaction in a particular situation. For instance, a daughter might believe her dad took her to the baseball game because he is a good father, or she might believe he took her to the game because he likes to go to the game.

The study suggested girls tended to believe a father’s “enduring aspects” are responsible for a dad’s good deeds, while boys are more likely to think dads do good depending on the situation.

Mexican-American children are more likely than their European-American peers to think good times with dad depend on the situation, Cookston said.

The reasons for these differences are not clear, Cookston and colleagues said. However, in the case of boys and girls, it might be girls are socialized to interpret other people’s behavior in a more positive light.

The findings were published in the Journal of Family Issues.

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