High Impact Parenting

Parenting is a high calling and a tremendous responsibility. Yet sometimes we need a reminder of just how important parenting is, and particularly in early childhood. Perhaps as fathers we're more sensitive to statistics, so here are some potent ones:

  1. Brain growth is 90% complete by age 5. (Zero to Three)
  2. This brain growth is activity-dependent; neurons stimulated by experiences form synapses, and those that are not stimulated are "pruned." (Zero to Three)
  3. Parental involvement is associated with improved language skills and higher IQ, and positively affects school performance and social emotional development. (Harvard Family Research Project)
  4. In fact, "the most accurate predictor of student achievement is the
    extent to which the family is involved in his or her education" (Education Resources Information Center)

Those statistics (and more) lead to two major conclusions:

  1. Parents play the most important role in education.
  2. The first 5 years profoundly affect a child's character, abilities and personality.

That means that your job as Dad is your most important job. Your shape the horizons of possibility for your children by the way you encourage them. By the way you speak to your children and respond to their emotional cues, you even effect the development of intelligence. Most importantly, you build their character by showing them how to use the skills and knowledge they acquire. In short, as a parent you have more influence on your children than anyone else, and the first five years of their lives is your window of greatest opportunity. By loving, teaching, engaging and inspiring them, you show them how to make their way in the world.

You're important to your family, and to the very fabric of society. In fact, you exert tremendous force in establishing a just society by the leadership you provide in the home.

Graham Scharf is co-founder & community manager of tumblon, a web 2.0 platform that helps parents to understand, engage and enjoy their young children. He blogs at Essential Questions.

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