How Fathers Benefit from Spending Time with the Kids — New Research

September 23, 2016

There’s plenty of research proving children are happier, healthier and more successful when they have strong relationships with their fathers. One report by the Department of Health and Human Services compiled research to show that infants whose fathers were “involved, nurturing and playful” developed higher IQs, better linguistic skills, and better cognitive capacities.

Various studies have also found that children with strong relationships with their fathers are less likely to:

  • Struggle with psychological disorders such as depression.
  • Exhibit disruptive behaviour.
  • Lie.

On the flip side, studies also find that children with involved fathers are more likely to:

  • Feel comfortable exploring the world around them.
  • Exhibit better physical and emotional self-control.
  • Be social and exhibit independent behaviour.

While that father-child bonding time is great for kids, they aren’t the only ones who benefit from it. Recent research has shown that dads who spend time with their kids are more likely to be successful, happy and fulfilled themselves — in both their work and home lives.

Fatherly Fulfillment: 4 Ways Dads Benefit From Spending Time With Their Kids

Several studies within the past decade have pinpointed the specific ways in which fathers receive a lifelong happiness boost. Here are just a handful of ways dads experience a better quality of life when engaging with their kids.

1. Increased Overall Life Satisfaction

Several studies have found that fathers are on average more fulfilled in life than their childless male counterparts. In a recent study on millennial fatherhood conducted by the Boston College Center for Work and Family, men with children scored significantly higher than single men without children — in some cases twice as high — when responding positively to statements such as “I am satisfied with my life” and “My life is close to ideal.”

Other studies have found that dads who spend time with their kids have higher levels of positive emotion and meaning in their lives, and dads who spend more time caring for their young children are generally more satisfied with their relationships with their children than dads who spend less time with them.

2. Enhanced Career Contentment

Some research shows dads who have fulfilling relationships with their kids also lead more fulfilled lives at work. A study conducted by the Academy of Management found that working fathers who spent time with their kids and felt fulfilled at home were less likely to be dissatisfied at work and also less likely to feel the need to seek new employment. Another study found that 82 percent of fathers agreed or strongly agreed that family life made them feel happier and said that the added happiness led to greater satisfaction at work.

3. Heightened Happiness — With Hormonal Help

In the first few weeks of fatherhood, dads experience a boost of oxytocin, also known as the love hormone. However, the physical feel-goods don’t end there. Fathers continue to experience bursts of oxytocin when playing with their little ones — specifically when doing things that encourage exploration and laughter. Meanwhile, fatherhood can also decrease testosterone levels, making fathers less aggressive and more caring.

4. Longer Lives

Fathers who actively spend time with their children are more likely to enjoy longer, healthier lives, one aggregate report found. While engaged fathers are more likely to experience fewer mental and physical health problems, they’re also more likely to avoid risky behaviours such as drug activity that could jeopardize their lives or their relationships with their children — leading to longer lives in the end.

father and son going for fall walk

Growing Your Relationship: 4 Fun Ways Fathers can Spend Time With Their Children

If you’re looking for new ways to spend time with your kids to grow your relationship, try one of these fun, healthy activities.

1. Laugh Together

Laughing is good for the body, no matter your age. But it turns out it’s also good for the brain. Hearing your child laugh is uniquely rewarding for the brain — which is why once it starts, you want to keep your child’s laughter going. Write a comedy routine together, have a funny face contest or play pretend to get the giggles flowing.

2. Build Something

Spending time creating something with your hands with your child will cause several positive responses. It will boost your child’s confidence, inspire her curiosity and creativity, and create lasting bonds between the two of you. Build memories — and basic STEM skills — from a young age while you build structures with toys. For older kids, gift your kid’s lifelong skills by experimenting with woodworking or soldering.

3. Make a Meal

The act of preparing a meal is a great way to work as a team and build your relationship. Even better, you’re also teaching your kids life skills that they’ll carry with them for the rest of their lives. Enjoy the sense of accomplishment and confidence they’ll have while you share your meal and celebrate your culinary successes at the end.

4. Explore the Outdoors

While moms typically instill in their children nurturing and supportive qualities, fathers are more likely to encourage their children to take risks, be adventurous and explore. Spend time with your kids outdoors to grow those qualities in them. Make a fun and educational game out of it by incorporating a scavenger hunt into your play.


However, you choose to do it, make spending quality time with your kids a priority. It will make both of you happier, healthier and more fulfilled in the long run.

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