Dads play an important role this festive season

Professor Bruce Robinson has an important message for dads this Christmas – don’t underestimate how important you are to your kids.

As well as a professor of respiratory medicine at The University of Western Australia, Professor Robinson is the founder of the Fathering Project, an organisation set up to connect Australian dads with their children and give them useful fathering tips.

The Fathering Project was set up in 2013 when Professor Robinson, through his research, observed a significant link between children who had a strong, supportive father figure and children with positive mental and physical health.

Professor Robinson said behaviours that children could develop if not supported by their dads included substance abuse, depression, bullying, lack participation in sport, low self-esteem, lack of personal values and some even turning to crime.

“If children have a strong, supportive father figure they are around 50 per cent less likely to suffer from drug addiction and more than 90 per cent less likely to engage in crime leading to imprisonment,” Professor Robinson said.

“Unfortunately for many reasons, a lot of dads struggle with fatherhood and it’s something that takes a lot of commitment and work for all fathers.”

Since the Fathering Project started, it has grown considerably, supporting 35,000 fathers, and 66,000 children. Through the project, 300 schools have set up dads’ groups across Australia and a range of resources to support fathers is available through the Fathering Project website.

Professor Robinson said that was why The Fathering Project was described by a former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia as the most powerful force in Australia to change the future of kids.

Professor Robinson said 2020 had been a difficult year for many dads and had affected many family relationships.

“Christmas is a wonderful time for most dads but can be a sad time for others. It may be a bad memory about Christmas, a feeling of loneliness, or a reminder of how life hasn’t worked out the way you hoped it would,” he said.

“This Christmas, dads are encouraged to engage with their kids one-on-one and make use of the resources on the Fathering Project website. The website has lots of tips on how fathering can connect with kids in ways that really work well.”