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Raising Great Kids: What Does the Research Say? Part I

By: Bridgette W. Gottwald, LPC, NCC

For those of you that know me, you might be thinking “What is she doing writing about parenting, she just became one!” Well, I don’t blame you. Yes, I am new to this, constantly learning and researching to be the best parent that I can be to my new bundle of joy. As a clinician, I take the approach of always keeping myself open to learning. The minute one starts thinking they are an expert at something, they close the door to new information and possibilities of knowledge that they can benefit from.

What Do Sons Need from their Dads? 


Every child needs to feel important and worthy of their father’s time. Ways that Dads can engage and set a good example would be to engage in activities such as shopping, playing a sport, going to entertainment events, playing games, cooking, and or watching television and reading with their kids. Positive behaviors such as this are protective factors for kids against externalizing behaviors such as disobedience and aggression.

“The Talk” 

Any trusted adult can have a sex conversation with boys at the appropriate age, but research shows that for boys with a father at home, this conversation is typically facilitated by him. However, studies show that fathers show a low sense of self-efficacy when it comes to having these conversations with their kids. For example, fathers tend to feel less competent in explaining to their kids how to say no to sex. Typically, this insecurity can cause a limitation in the amount of information and guidance that boys receive.

An Upstanding, Law Abiding Example 

According to longitudinal research on thousands of fathers and their sons, men who break the law are significantly more likely to have fathers that did the same. It’s important to keep in mind that a wide array of socio-cultural factors play into increasing or decreasing the likelihood of delinquent behavior.

Affection and Tenderness 

Research demonstrates that children of Dads who treated them with high levels of affection as an infant scoured higher on standardized tests of cognitive ability in reading and math at age 4. Love on your kids!

What Do Daughters Need from their Moms? 

Emotional Burden-sharing and Physical Comfort 

Confidence in a strong mother-daughter relationship may protect against emotional threats as well as physical touch does. Different types of children have different needs, and attention must be paid to the preferences of the child. Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages might be helpful to take into consideration as well!

Authoritative Parenting 

Typically, parenting styles are categorized as authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, or uninvolved. When it comes to authoritative parents, they are usually pragmatic and flexible – they set clear boundaries but encourage independence and employing supportive, not punitive, discipline. Authoritative parenting aids in the development of positive cognitive schemas, which means how someone thinks about themselves and the world. For example, children who were raised by authoritative mothers typically hold fewer schemas related to shame or defectiveness, or social isolation.

Minimal Conflict, Maximum Warmth 

Warm mothers are loving, fun, kind, and invested in their child’s development. When mothers minimize conflict and maximize the warmth they share with their children, research suggests they are more apt to set their child up with developing healthy social skills such as making friends, while also lessening behaviors such as acting out in school.

Check out part two of this two-part blog series to learn more about what it takes to raise great kids for both Mom and Dad contributing in different ways.


Flint, D. (2021). The Research on Raising Great Kids. Bowling Green State University.

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