Fathers Day

Importance of Father Involvement in Children     

An extensive amount of research has emphasized the pivotal role that mothers play in the lives of childhood development. Many studies highlight the valuable influence that mothers have on the cognitive, emotional and social development of the child. However, until recent years, there has been little research that highlights the benefits of father involvement on the well-being of the child. There has been an increasing body of research that emphasizes the differential outcomes between children that actively engage with fathers versus those that do not. According to a study published in Acta Pediatrica, active involvement of fathers has decreased oppositional behavioral, reduced psychological problems and enhances cognitive development. Additionally, active engagement of fathers can improve the overall efficacy of the family system. Consistent engagement of fathers reduces the responsibility and workload of mothers and decreases the likelihood of mothers burning out. When mothers burn out there is an increased risk of dysfunctional interactions with the family. These effects include tension, outburst of anger and unintended neglect. Unfortunately, mothers on average spend more time engaging with children than the fathers. Additionally, if parents are at work, often nannies end up spending a significant amount of time with children. Nannies serve as a buffer in the family unit and provide support during times parents are not present. Unfortunately, male nannies are less likely to be hired and are commonly discriminated against in the “nanny sector”. This is largely due to the underestimated value of the role that males and father figures play in the lives of children. Father’s and male figures play a crucial role in facilitating emotional and psychological well-being in children. In this article we will highlight some of the most valuable contributions fathers and male figures can make in children.

Gate Keeper

Historically, fathers have maintained the impression of the dominant figure in the home. Additionally, they have been viewed as the firm figure that maintains the rules. Although, women actively take on a dominant parental role in the family dynamic, studies have shown the mere presence of fathers in the home can reduce the frequency of defiant behavior. At various stages in development, it is typical for children to test the limits and boundaries of their parents. At each stage defiance can come in different forms ranging from refusal to do school work to staying out after curfew. Although “children will be children”, it is essential that children are provided with flexible boundaries and firm expectations to safely navigate these phases of their lives. Father’s can help play an important role in safeguarding children through those phases of “testing the limits”.

Coach Motivator

Growing up in a competitive culture can be difficult for children. Many children lack motivation and confidence in their abilities at each stage of their development. Girls typically struggle with self-esteem issues more than boys. Several studies find that an active and nurturing style of fathering is associated with better verbal skills, intellectual functioning, and academic achievement among adolescents. Fathers typically take on a coaching and solution-focused approach to helping their children build confidence and attain their personal goals. During early childhood through late adolescence, children are faced with more competitive situations through sports, arts, and education. These experiences may have a negative impact on a child’s self-esteem. Fathers play an important role in encouraging and motivating children to try their best and continue to strive for their goals.

Mental Health

Research has shown that father involvement is linked to better psychological adjustment. There is evidence that active and regular engagement of fathers reduced psychological problems in young women. Girls typically experience challenges with mental health at an earlier age. These mental health issues include; depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. Although the experiences of mental health challenges are inevitable for some children, father involvement can provide children with reassurance and comfort throughout the process.  Additionally, challenges with mental health can be debilitating and hinder functioning in school and extracurricular activities. Active involvement of fathers can help children maintain optimal functioning through challenges with mental health.


Sarkadi, A., Kristiansson, R., Oberklaid, F., & Bremberg, S. (2008). Fathers’ involvement and children’s developmental outcomes: a systematic review of longitudinal studies. Acta paediatrica, 97(2), 153-158.

Why Gender Roles Don’t Matter

The Gender Role Rabbit Hole

From the moment a child is born, the course of their identity is steered by their closest loved ones that will guide them throughout their lives. The moment a pink versus blue infant cap is chosen, identity has been framed. However, the question becomes who these children might be without our interfering social demands? Most children don’t recognize their sexual differences until around age 2-years old. Thereafter, they begin to understand norms associated with their gender as masculine or feminine. Kids begin to work hard to maintain behavior that fits into the gender specific frames assigned to them. Nevertheless, parents and caregivers soon learn that these frames don’t always conveniently fit their children. Sooner than later their authentic personality springs forth in rebellion, and parents watch in amazement as their genial girl begins kicking off those pink ribbon shoes they never wanted and throwing a pair of cleats over their shoulder ready to get dirty at the local sandlot.

Gender Identity & Play

Despite our efforts to control human nature, children revert to what feels true to themselves and seek out ways to feel most like themselves. Play is the primary way children learn about the world and themselves. According to child analyst Piaget, through play, children strengthen their relationship to and mastery of their environment. Personality typically drives children to interact with the environment in unique ways. The process of learning through play further develops a child’s identity. Children will choose their playmates based on their own true interest and sense of commonality with peers. These peer relationships become mutually beneficial and independent of sex differences. The interference of gender roles and expectations stunts the natural honing process of play. Ultimately a child’s unique way of learning becomes inhibited. Thus, children work twice as hard to behave in a manner that is counter to their particular traits and characteristics. Essentially, gender roles may train children to be unlike themselves. Gender expectations can send messages of rejection to children that don’t quite meet societal norms. Parents and Childcare professionals should allow children to freely explore their own unique interest without introducing gender biased rules. Allowing children to be free and explore what feels true to their unique personality, puts children on a successful trajectory. Moreover, enabling children to be and play according to what feels natural to them, sends a message of unconditional love, which is crucial to healthy self-esteem.

Parents Role In Loosening the Gender Reigns

Childcare workers and parents play a major role in ensuring healthy identity and cognitive development in their children. At birth, it is essential for parents to provide children with an environment that encourages free exploration. For parents to provide an environment free of gender role constraints, they must first identify their own gender biases. The influence of gender expectations is so ingrained in human thought and behavior that this way of thinking may be automatic. Once parents have identified these automatic biases, they will be better equipped to provide a gender-free environment. Additionally, parents must positively correct other adult figures actively involved with their children to refrain from gender specific coaxing. For example, nannies and other childcare workers should be fully informed about how they can best provide “gender-free” care. Finally, parents must accept that identity is not necessarily static and that shifts in gender preferences occur. Thus, at any given stage parents and caregivers must be loving and supportive.


The Role of Mothers

Home Care in Fairfax VA

Research continues to provide evidence for women’s unique contribution to the lives of their children. Mothers are the first reference point Home-Care-in-Fairfax-VAand means for socializing their children. Beginning at birth, attachment starts the process of cognitive, emotional and social molding. Many empirical studies have supported the strong impact of attachment on personality and later relationships. Mothers, provide the first message from the world that conveys nurturance and safety.  Due to a multitude of socio-economic pressures, mothers tend to spend less time with children than women in previous decades. Consequently, many mothers experience guilt for not spending as much quality time with their children than they believe they should. Many parenting guides suggest that communicating, spending quality time, loving and rearing techniques have a more profound impact on their child’s development. However, there are a host of ways to make an remarkable impact on your child’s well-being. A mother’s way of being in the world can have a chief impact on the development and overall well-being of their children.


The Anatomy of Woman-Being

According to Gregory L Jantz, Ph.D, women have scientifically proven social, psychological and physiological differences than their male counterparts that contribute to major differences in ways of being. These differences include: chemistry, brain anatomy and multitasking. According to Jantz, women produce higher levels of oxytocin, a bonding chemical that supports the process of attachment with children. The production of higher levels of oxytocin allows for women to bond to children and others with ease. Studies have shown that women and males can engage in behaviors that increase levels of oxytocin. These behaviors include; hugging, rubbing, kissing and hand holding. Essentially, women have the ability to model the process of organic bonding with others and their children . Researchers have also found that women tend to have a larger hippocampus than males. The hippocampus is responsible for memory and sensory input in both males and females. A larger hippocampus has been found to be correlated with more input of sensory and emotive information.  The ability to receive high sensory input allows for women to be more sensitive and attentive to their environment. In result, women tend to be more hypervigilant to the emotional shifts in their children. The ability for children to have their emotional needs recognized by their mother, provides a sense of security and can be a signal for women to assist their children with having a emotionally corrective experience. These unique abilities serve as ways for children to recognize their own emotional shifts and ways to cope with negative feelings before they become permanently internalized. The mother’s way of coping and self-care can teach their offspring ways to cope and deal with a multitude of stress. However, today mothers tend to sacrifice and neglect their own emotions in efforts to meet the needs of their children. It is essential for women to maintain mindfulness of their own emotional shifts and utilize healthy ways to maintain an emotional equilibrium.


Balance & Bonding

A major concern for many mothers is maintaining a deep bond with their children throughout each stage of their life. However, this can particularly difficult when mothers are emotionally and physically burnt out. It essential for women to maintain emotional and physical balance in order to make healthy investments in relationships with their children. In a time sensitive world it can challenging for women to maintain self-care. Unfortunately, many women rely on quarterly or yearly vacations to fit self-care into their lives. However, year and quarterly decompression can be too much of a gap in time to maintain emotional and physical well-being. It is essential for self-care to be a regular practice each day as stress can carry-over for weeks if it is not immediately released. Some valuable ways to decompress and regulate emotions include: early morning nature walks, cardio exercise, mindfulness activities, meditation/prayer and guided journaling.  Many women believe that in order to truly decompress, children must not be apart of their stress release activities. However, including children in some of the stress release activities can provide children with practical knowledge on ways to cope and recognize first-hand effectiveness. Additionally, it teaches the child good habits on incorporating routine self-care into their lives. Many women feel the need to hide their stress or negative emotions from  children. However, being transparent with children about their shifts in emotions and stress without externally blaming can teach children to communicate their emotions which can be cathartic. Finally, showing children the importance of utilizing self-care to maintain emotional balance and release stress can be help prevent them from internalizing and neglecting their psychological needs as adults.


If you or an aging loved one are considering home care in Fairfax, VA, please call the friendly staff at Philia Care today at 202-607-2525.


Tips for Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude & Thankfulness

  • Work gratitude into daily conversation with children. For example, “We’re so lucky to have a good cat like “Whiskers”grateful-child-stress-relief or “I am so thankful that we were able to spend time together”.
  • Designate a time of the day to give thanks. The best time would typically be dinner time when all member of the family are gathered together to share their gratitude. Having everyone involved increases the influential power.
  • Designate task for children to assist with and show appreciation for their help. Engagement in task helps children recognize the effort involved with various duties and promotes appreciation.
  • Be a great example in displaying gratitude with family members and friends consistently
  • Practice saying “no” or “not now” to decrease entitlement tendencies. Instant gratification of every whim decreases a sense of value and appreciation. Encourage children to use their strengths to show kindness and gratitude toward others.

An Attitude of Gratitude & Heart of Thankfulness

Today we live in a society in which instant gratification is at our fingertips or just one tap of away. It can be two girlschallenging to avoid conditioning children have an attitude of expectation and entitlement. There are many great psychological and social benefits to maintaining an attitude of gratitude. Ultimately, maintaining an attitude of gratitude cultivates a conditioned heart of thankfulness.

What Have You Done for Me Lately? Teaching Gratitude

According to Barbara Lewis, young children are typically self-centered or ego-centric by nature. Their self-centered nature can be manifested in tantrums, emotional outburst and refusal to share or cooperate with others. Around age 2-3 children are able to express thankfulness for objects such as toys or food. At this age it can be challenging to help children express thankfulness or identify instances to be thankful when tangible objects are not related. By age 4, children may begin to understand the concept of being thankful not only for material things but for acts of kindness, love and caring. These attributes are fostered by consistent parental efforts to prompt their children to recognize instances in which to express gratitude.

Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude

Fostering an attitude of gratitude in children can be quite challenging. However, the degree of psychological plasticity in children allows them to learn habits more quickly and maintain them long-term. In order to help children adopt an attitude of gratitude consistency is imperative. Many times parents prompt children to show thankfulness sporadically or whimsically. The lack of consistency in expressing gratitude can condition children have varying experiences of gratitude. Adopting a mindset of appreciation should begin the moment a child starts the day. It may be beneficial for parents to help children to recognize each day as a gift of life. Additionally, it can be beneficial for parents to prompt their children to be thankful for assistance with task throughout the day (i.e. teeth brushing, shoe tying, packing lunch). However, it is important to avoid prompting in a “nagging tone”. Finally, it is exceedingly important for parents to model an attitude of thankfulness. Children learn most of their characteristics and attitudes from their parental figures.

It is essential for parents to express their gratefulness for acts of service and kindness from their children and other adults. Children may view parents as hypocrites and be resistant to express gratitude if they rarely witness their parents modeling the same behaviors. Expressing gratefulness for their children’s compliance and acts kindness can be a great way to model an attitude of gratitude.

Gratitude & Well-being

According to a 2014 study published in Emotion, showing appreciation toward others can help foster ongoing relationships with others. Overall, showing appreciation can be an expression of love and admiration. These aspects are essential for maintaining healthy relationships. According to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences, Individuals with higher levels of gratitude reported feeling healthier than other people. According to Dr. Emmons, a leading researcher on gratitude, individual’s with high levels of gratitude had a reduction in a multitude of negative emotions related to envy, frustration and regret. Overall, these are common emotions experienced by young egocentric children as they develop healthy self-esteem and try to meet the expectations of adult figures.

By Nichole Hawkins, Philia’s Family Support Specialist

What Have You Done for Me Lately? Teaching Gratitude

According to award winning author, Barbara Lewis, young children are typically self-centered or ego-centric by http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-images-happy-afro-child-image7889749nature. Their self-centered nature can be manifested in tantrums, emotional outburst and refusal to share or cooperate with others. Around age 2-3 children are able to express thankfulness for objects such as toys or food. At this age it can be challenging to help children express thankfulness or identify instances to be thankful when tangible objects are not related. By age 4, children may begin to understand the concept of being thankful not only for material things but for acts of kindness, love and caring. These attributes are fostered by consistent parental efforts to prompt their children to recognize instances in which to express gratitude.

Halloween Safety Tips and Recipe

Trick or Treat Safety Tips

  • Always walk on sidewalks
  • Put electronic devices away and be vigilant of cars
  • Teach children to practice looking both ways
  • Decorate costumes or props with reflective tape
  • Make sure costumes are not too long to prevent falling and tripping
  • Choose face painting versus masks to maximize vision at night
  • Carry glow sticks
  • Teach children to make eye contact with drivers before crossing streets

Halloween Recipe

AppleTeethWith a small, sharp paring knife, cut a lengthwise wedge from the skin side of each apple quarter, leaving the peel around the wedge for lips. If desired, rub the cut portions of the apple quarters with lemon juice to prevent browning. Poke 5 or 6 slivered almonds into the top and bottom of the cut-out area to make snaggly teeth.


http://allrecipes.com/recipe/219206/halloween-fruit-apple-teeth-treats &referringId=189&referringContentType=recipe%20hub

~  Nichole Hawkins, Philia Family Support Specialist

Halloween Is More Than Spooky Fun and Candy

Even Bigger Treats

M&G_Halloween_2007Halloween is a special time for kids, filled with fun and an abundance of delicious candy. However, Halloween has been found to have longer lasting effects than just a highly apparent sugar rush. According to researchers, Halloween can be a great way to help promote habits of gratitude, altruism, health and self-esteem.


Throughout childhood, children typically struggle with becoming less centered on themselves and more conscientious of others. During Halloween, children have an opportunity to choose candy or make treats that their peers may like and share them at school or home. The participation of children in choosing or making treats that their peers might desire, provides children with the opportunity to think of the perspective of others and preferences beyond their own.


Trick or Treating is can be a great way for children to practice displaying an attitude of gratitude. Children are constantly in a position of receiving from others. However, this position places children in a mindset of expectation versus gratitude. Teaching children about gratitude as early as possible is the foundation for success in current and future relationships. Halloween is a great opportunity to help children practice saying “thank you” and being friendly with others that are giving them treats. When children are able to show gratitude even when they receive a treat that is not of their preference, this prepares them for keeping an attitude of gratefulness in the event of future disappointments.

Social Skills

Research has found that interpersonal skills are important for peer acceptance and social adjustment throughout childhood and adolescence. Technology has reduced the opportunity for children and adults to practice face-to-face interaction. In many ways excessive use of technology to communicate with others can stunt social development. Halloween is a great time to introduce yourself to neighbors that you may have not met or catch up with neighbors with whom you have had little communication. Young children struggle with learning how to interact and develop peer relationships. Taking children to meet neighbors is a great way to teach children how to use their social skills to meet unfamiliar people and begin the process of developing connections with others.


Self-esteem is one of the most important pillars of childhood development. Recent research underscores the importance of the early childhood years as a critically important for establishing self-esteem. Many children lack self-esteem and have anxiety about various aspects of their personality being accepted by peers. Halloween is a great way for children to explore and express various alter egos that they may not ordinarily display to the public. Dressing up and expressing themselves in an exaggerated manner allows the child’s imaginative thoughts, wishes and desires to be recognized by others and celebrated. Granting children permission to choose their costume and freely express themselves provides them with permission to be comfortable with expressing humorous, ambitious and creative aspects of their personality.

Healthy Balance

Today children typically ride in car’s and have less opportunities to engage in walking. Trick-or- treating can be a great opportunity to teach children about balance in their physical health. Walking up and down neighborhood blocks can burn thousands of calories. This could be a great opportunity to show children how exercise can be a great way to balance indulgence in unhealthy foods. Additionally, Trick-or-treating can be a great way for children to become familiar with their neighborhood and become less reliant upon parents to transport them to nearby places.

Tips for Promoting “Longer Lasting Treats”

  • Encourage children to participate in choosing or making treats that their peers may enjoy.
  • Prior to trick or treating, assist your child in practicing the use of manners and showing thankfulness when they receive a treat.
  • Encourage your child to give something back, such as a treat or compliment.
  • Be a great example in displaying social skills when meeting neighbors. Prompt your child to introduce themselves, greet others and share about their costume.
  • Allow your child to participate in choosing their own costume and discuss how the character they chose relates to aspects of their personality.
  • Avoid driving your child from house-to house. Assist your child in keeping track of calories burned during the walking experience.

~ Nichole Hawkins, Philia Family Support Specialist