Relate NI’s tips for better communication with dads this Father’s Day
Research by Relate, the leading relationships charity, has found that people in Northern Ireland are less likely to report a very good relationship with their dads than with their mums. In the poll of over 5,000 people across the UK aged 16+, only 46% of people in Northern Ireland reported a very good relationship with their dads, compared to 57% with their mums.*
In addition, 7% of respondents described their relationship with their dads as fairly bad and 4% described it as very bad. This compares to 4% who described their relationship with their mums as fairly bad and 4% who described it as very bad.**
In response to these findings, and with Father’s Day just around the corner, Dave Murphy, Chief Executive at Relate NIsays there are things both fathers and children can do to enhance their relationships with one another. He said: “Every dad’s different, but some can find it tricky to express their emotions, which can affect the way their children perceive the relationship. Sometimes, fathers may try to show they care by offering help with practical things like finances or driving lessons, but shy away from providing emotional support.
“This means people may feel closer to their mum than their dad, when in fact their relationship with their dad is just as strong. I’d advise fathers who’re struggling to communicate with their kids to take a few more risks – tell your teenage son that you’re there to talk if he ever needs to, or give your grown-up daughter a hug. It may feel uncomfortable to start with if you haven’t always been this open, but it’s never too late to start and it’ll show your kids how much you really care. The same goes for children – even as adults, tell your dad how much you care this Father’s Day and other days of the year as well.”
Relate NI’s top tips for better communication with dads
Notice actions as well as words: some dads do things rather than say them. Maybe your dad doesn’t tell you he loves you but he shows he cares by reminding you to wear your bike helmet or helping you to move house.
Take more risks: share how you’re really feeling with one another, even if it seems unnatural at first.
Make use of technology: Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook, texting and other social media give you more ways to keep in touch with each other and express emotion even when you don’t live together. It may be easier to write something rather than say what you feel.
Have a regular meet-up: it sounds obvious but spending quality time together enhances bonds between dads and their children. Make it a regular event, whether it’s Sunday lunch or watching the football together.
Don’t stop trying: remember that we all have the ability to learn new skills and improve the way we communicate with one another, no matter what our age or gender.
Relate NI offers information, advice and counselling for all stages of relationships, including helping families to build and maintain strong relationships. Visit www.relateni.org for more information, or call 90323454.
*The survey of 5,778 people nationwide was carried out by YouGov. The sample size of people from across the UK who answered the question on their relationship with their mothers was 3,477. Responses were gathered between 25 February and 18 March 2014. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.
**The UK-wide averages were as follows:
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