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Importance of Fathers!

Research about a mother’s role in child development abounds, largely because attachment theory gives a basis from which to conduct the research. No such theory exists for fathers, which may be part of the reason that the influence fathers have on their children wasn’t as well researched until recently, when researchers began to shift away from looking at fathers as the “other parent.” Now, instead of viewing fathers only through the lens of what is known about mothers, researchers are looking at the unique and important ways fathers influence their children.

As a result of that research, it is now established that fathers play an essential role in the upbringing of their children. And they can be every bit as sensitive and nurturing to their children as mothers can.[ii] A father’s nurturing presence can continue to benefit children and help them develop cognitive, socially, and emotionally as they grow up. In fact, in a 2001 review of the father's love, researchers Rohner and Veneziano concluded, “Overall, father love appears to be as heavily implicated as mother love in offsprings’ psychological wellbeing and health, as well as in an array of psychological and behavioral problems.”[iii]

Most fathers try to do their best for their children. Yet a report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notes, “Too many fathers become convinced that they are simply an extra set of hands to help around the house, rather than irreplaceable to their children.”  The point of this article is to highlight the ways in which fathers become involved in ways that are “irreplaceable to their children.” To do that, it’s necessary to understand exactly what an involved father is, and how he can be most successful. Many researchers have asked just this question, and have provided us a good deal of insight.  In 1987, researchers Lamb, Pleck, Chernov, and Levine outlined three fundamental aspects of father involvement. These traits form the basis for a positive, nurturing father-child relationship:

1. Engagement: father's direct contact and shared interactions with their children

2. Availability: father's presence or accessibility to the child

3. Responsibility: father's arrangement for resources to be available to the child

Building on the work by Lamb, Pleck, and Chernov, another researcher by the name of Palkovitz enumerated 15 distinct ways in which fathers tend to be involved with their children:[ii]

  • Communicating
  • Teaching
  • Monitoring
  • Engaging in thought processes
  • Providing
  • Showing affection
  • Protecting
  • Supporting emotionally
  • Running errands
  • Caregiving
  • Engaging in child-related maintenance
  • Sharing interests
  • Being available
  • Planning
  • Sharing activities


Some researchers focus on play behavior as being central to fathering, just as nurturing behavior is seen as essential to mothering. Father-child play is important for children because it is physical and highly stimulating, which allows the child to experience the activation and regulation of arousal.[iii] It also helps children understand and test boundaries in a safe environment, which helps them in countless ways as they figure out the world.

An involved father is one who is sensitive, warm, close, friendly, supportive, intimate, nurturing, affectionate, encouraging, comforting and accepting.

In their comprehensive report, “The Effects of Father Involvement: An Updated Research Summary of the Evidence,” researchers Sarah Allen, PhD, and Kerry Daly, PhD, define an involved father as one who is “sensitive, warm, close, friendly, supportive, intimate, nurturing, affectionate, encouraging, comforting, and accepting.” They classify fathers as involved if their child has developed a strong attachment to them.[iv]

Not all fathers have the level of involvement they’d like to have. Whether it’s due to life circumstances or other factors, some fathers haven’t yet stepped into their role as important, nurturing influences on their children.

What makes some fathers more likely to be involved than others? A number of factors can determine a father’s success, including the following:[v]

  • The father’s own upbringing (including his relationship with his parents)
  • His cultural history
  • His biological history (such as mental illness, alcoholism, health)
  • His characteristics (employment, age, personality, etc.)
  • The mother’s characteristics
  • Contextual factors (relationship with the mother, community connections, etc.)
  • The child’s characteristics

Because the role of the father is less defined in Western society than the role of the mother, influences such as those listed above seem to have a more significant impact on how involved a father is. But the flexibility of the father’s role also means that shifts in external factors—like when a mother begins modeling positive parenting behavior, for instance—can enhance a father’s own parenting. Or on the other hand, if a mother isn’t able to care for an infant well, as may be the case with postpartum depression or illness, the father may not only jump in to help more, but he may gather additional resources from family or community members. This act of increasing support can buffer the effects of the mother’s inability to connect. At the same time, it bolster’s the father’s confidence in his own parenting and strengthens his bond with his child.

Another factor that is often discussed—and sometimes misunderstood—is socioeconomic status. The stereotype of the uninvolved low-income father is ubiquitous. But research dispels that stereotype. Michael Lamb, a psychology professor who has published extensively on the role of the father in child development, has stated, “Our research really bashes the stereotype of the low-income father. These fathers care about their kids, but may not show their love in conventional ways and sometimes a lack of a job, poor communication with the mom, or even their own childhood experiences can prevent them from getting involved.”[vi]

Whatever the underlying cause, though, the research is clear: With proper support, even fathers in challenging situations can provide a positive and nurturing influence in their children’s lives.

Kingwood Student Highlight— Aidan Wright

What is your name and age?

Aidan Wright, 20

When did you join Elite MMA?

2 years ago

Why did you decide to start taking martial arts?

I started taking martial arts after watching a Jiu Jitsu tournament take place at a UFC Fan Expo. I had never seen Jiu Jitsu before, and I was amazed with the display of skill and technique by the competitors. The competitors were using techniques that my brain couldn’t comprehend at the time, and knew it was something that I really wanted to learn.

In the past what had caused you not to take martial arts?

I didn’t have a car at the time I became interested in martial arts. As soon as I was able to drive myself to classes, I signed up.

Is this your first time taking martial arts and what classes do you take?

I trained some Brazilian Jiu Jitsu before coming to Elite MMA. At Elite, I train in the Jiu Jitsu beginner and endurance classes.

If you had any concerns about joining Elite MMA, what helped you with your decision?

The environment Coach Jordan & Tyler provide at Elite MMA Kingwood is welcoming and friendly. When I walked into the door, they didn’t hit me with a generic salesman attitude; instead, Coach Jordan asked questions about what I was looking for from Elite MMA in order to see if it was the right fit for me.

Since you have been part of Elite, please share what you have been able to accomplish?

I have competed in Jiu Jitsu tournaments all over Texas. Beyond Jiu Jitsu, Elite has helped improve my self-confidence and ability to handle the stresses of life. I have been able to apply the principles learned in Jiu Jitsu classes at Elite to many other areas of my life.

Anything else you want to share with someone who is looking to get involved with martial arts or looking to change their current lifestyle?

Just go for it. There is no reason to wait until you’re in better shape—you will get into better shape while training martial arts.



NEW Westheimer Instructor Highlight: Robert Zimmerman

Birth place: Azle Tx

Profession: Business Development
Certified Corporate Trainer; 
The Bob Pike Group 
Certified Marine Corps Martial Arts Program Instructor (MCMAP) 
MBA; Webster University 
BS Business Administration: University of South Carolina

What martial art(s) have you trained in:

Shotokan: 1986-1989

Hwa Rang Do: 1994-1997

Wrestling: Freestyle, Greco-Roman (Junior High): 1996-1998

Marine Corps Mixed Martial Arts: 2002 – 2007

Yudansha (BJJ, Arnise, Judo, Muay Thai): 2011- 2014

BJJ: 2015 - Present

Number of years of training martial arts:  I started training in Shotokan at the YMCA in Fort Worth Texas at the age of 3.  Throughout my life, I have been drawn to various disciplines of martial arts. I strive to improve myself and I have found the physical “challenge” presented by martial arts requires this of me.  

When did you start teaching at Elite MMA? I began teaching at Elite MMA the moment Professors Hai and Eric awarded me the green strip 18 months ago as a student.  Since that moment, I have taken on the responsibility to support all of my fellow students, through the 7 areas of the Elite MMA philosophy.

What is a memorable moment for you at Elite MMA? The first time I asked Professor Hai for a personal conversation about my further development within the school.  Hai showed me that I am responsible for my own development and that I must take it upon myself to ask for help (and when I ask all of those within the school would help me reach my goals).

In your own words why do you enjoy Elite MMA?  I enjoy the athletes, the community that we create, and intensity of our training. The warriors here are noble, kind, and determined to develop in their discipline. I have spent most of my life wanting to be a part of, and contributing to, an organization that fights for growth of self and the community. I have found this in the culture and people of Elite MMA.

Do you have any martial arts accomplishments that you are proud of and why? To date… My two proudest accomplishments in the martial arts are to have been a MCMAP instructor for the United States Marine Corps, and to be offered the chance to teach and learn at Elite MMA.

Are there any professional accomplishments that you are proud of and why? I am proud of all of my diverse professional accomplishments including: completing Culinary School by 18; 5+ years as an active duty Marine with two years in combat for my country; completing both an BS and MBA; serving in a foreign county for the DOD as a Corporate Trainer;  and contracted as a Technology Development Executive for one of the largest technology firms in the world.  

What hobbies do you enjoy and why?  I really enjoy physical training of all kinds; BJJ, soccer, Cross-Fit, Cross-Country.  I also have a lot of season hobbies which I love such as hunting, agriculture, fishing, and horseback riding.

Any memorable family moments that you would like to share?  This past March I spent the weekend with my sons on a beach in Southern California.  It is always special to me to watch them play, and see a carefree smile cross their face forever creating a lasting memory for me.

Academic accomplishments: I received a BS in Business Administration from the University of South Carolina and a MBA from Webster University of Missouri.  I hope to someday publish my theory on the marketing and development of Organic Agriculture in retail markets.

If you could walk us through a day or week in your life what would it consist of? Each day I wake up with the drive to move forward and develop the skills required to accomplish the goals I set forth for myself. I wake up, enjoy coffee, read the financial news, reach out to loved ones (family and friends). I take pride in completing each day what I have set forth for myself and if not communicate when I plan to accomplish it. I end the day by good a good meal, talking with my boys, spending quiet time with my girlfriend and dogs. 


Westheimer Student Highlight—Mathilde Leveque

What is your name and age?

My name is Mathilde Leveque and I am 16 years old.

When did you join Elite MMA?

I joined Elite MMA in September 2015.

Why did you decide to start taking martial arts?

I used to do rock climbing in the past but I decided to change sports. I started looking for something more challenging like a combat sport where I could let off some steam and that would be a better fit for my personality. I had heard that kickboxing was a great combat sport and a very fun workout so I started taking the cardio kickboxing class and slowly worked my way into the more advanced classes.

In the past what had caused you not to take martial arts?

I had never seriously thought about taking martial arts and I had never taken the time to learn more about martial arts.

Is this your first time taking martial arts and what classes do you take?

I had never taken martial arts in the past. I take the fight fit class, to stay in shape, the cardio kickboxing class, the fundamental level one kickboxing class, and the advanced level two kickboxing class.


If you had any concerns about joining Elite MMA, what helped you with your decision?

I had concerns about not liking the atmosphere of the school but I soon learned that Elite MMA is a very welcoming place and I was very quickly integrated into the Elite family.

Since you have been part of Elite, please share what you have been able to accomplish?

Since I have joined Elite, I am in better shape and I can defend myself more easily. I have learned how to properly fight and I am more confident about trying new sports. Thanks to Elite, I have learned much about martial arts and about the values it represents.

Anything else you want to share with someone who is looking to get involved with martial arts or looking to change their current lifestyle?

For anyone who has concerns about getting involved with martial arts, it is important to remember that it is a discipline of respect and not just sports to hurt and intimidate someone. For someone looking to change their current lifestyle, it is important to set goals and to give yourself the means to achieve those goals. 



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