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A secure bond with dad is linked to happier social lives for your kids

Dad may be to thank for happy friendships, new study shows. 

A secure bond with dad is linked to happier social lives for your kids

The value in friendships is something most of us feel in our hearts and souls—with research backing up the benefits of close relationships. It turns out the groundwork for those platonic guy and girlfriends we have later in life actually stems from relationships with our own fathers. Specifically, when we feel love and positive bonds with our dads, we're more likely to have solid friendships later in life.


A recent University of Pennsylvania study published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence found that kids who experienced paternal rejection were more socially anxious—and more prone to loneliness—than kids who felt secure connections with their dads. The same wasn't true when people felt disconnected from their moms during childhood.

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“This suggests that fathers' rejecting attitudes toward their adolescent children may make them more nervous about approaching social situations, which in turn is related to more social isolation and feelings of loneliness," says lead study author Hio Wa Mak, a University of Pennsylvania doctoral student of human development and family studies.

For the study, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania followed children from 687 opposite-sex families through the sixth, seventh and eight grades to study their social development over time, according to Science Daily.

The researchers measured levels of parental rejection during each time point by asking both mom and dad about their feelings of distrust, love and unhappiness with their child. The researchers also gauged overall family climate. The participating kids answered questions about their feelings of social anxiety, quality of friendships and general loneliness.

The researchers discovered that, in general, children who were rejected by both parents experienced poorer social adjustment and more loneliness than children living in a positive family climate.

Surprisingly, though, they also found that rejection by dads, not by moms, influenced changes in social anxiety and ability to form friendships among children.

“These findings suggest that we should also reach out to families to help them support this sense of belonging and connection," says Gregory Fosco, one of the study's researchers and an associate professor of human development and family studies at the University of Pennsylvania. “We might be overlooking the family as an important piece of cultivating these healthy peer relationships."

Positive, meaningful friendships can have tremendous impact on your child's life. A 2010 meta-analytic review published in PLoS Medicine found that forming social bonds can add more years to your life than even regular exercise can. The study also found that friendships can encourage healthy behaviors, such as getting more sleep and regular wellness visits to the doctor.

Not only that, but research has found the friendships have impact on a child's chemical makeup. According to a 2011 study published in Child Development, friendships can affect a child's levels of cortisol, the hormone that regulates stress. Researchers found that kids who were excluded by their classmates had higher cortisol levels, meaning they experienced more stress. Conversely, kids who were rejected by their peers but had supportive friends had lower levels of cortisol.

"Adolescents' success in forming positive, close relationships is such an important feature of that developmental period," Fosco says. "These relationships help them achieve a sense of independence and to explore their identity and the world around them."

The latest research shows children are more likely to experience the benefits of warm, meaningful friendships when they first experience warm, meaningful relationships with their dads.


14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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