Fathers parent differently as they have a distinct style of communication, explains fathering expert Dr Kyle Pruett. By 8 weeks of age, infants can tell the difference between their mother’s and father’s interaction with them.
This diversity gives children a richer experience of contrasting relational interactions. Whether they realise it or not, children are learning by experience, that men and women have different ways of dealing with life. This understanding is critical for their development.
Fathers build confidence
Listen to the parents at the playground. Who is encouraging their children to climb a little higher, or ride their bicycle a little faster? Who is encouraging them to be careful? Mothers tend to protect, whereas dads encourage their children to push the limits.
Either inclination on its own can be unhealthy. One tends toward encouraging risk without consideration of consequences, the other may avoid risk altogether, failing to build independence and confidence. But together, they help children remain safe while expanding their experiences and increasing their confidence.
Fathers provide a look into the world of men
Girls with involved fathers are more likely to have healthier relationships with the opposite sex because they learn from their fathers how men should love and respect women, and know which behaviours are inappropriate.
Boys instinctively look up to their dads as larger-than-life figures who will protect them and give them the courage to face life challenges. A dad gives his son insight into what it means to be a man, shows him the ropes of life, and demonstrates by example how he respects the opposite sex.
Father-child bonding tips
1. Do things with your child Accomplish a task together, like bathing the dog, building a toy model or simply spend time together on activities you both enjoy, like watching the latest movie.
2. Discuss life decisions with your child If you have a decision to make, try discussing it with your child. Should you take up the new job? Should you purchase that new gadget? You may be surprised by your child’s input.
3. Take an active role in your child’s education Show an interest in your child’s learning. Be aware of any struggles he has in school and keep on encouraging him.
4. Let your child know he can call you whenever he needs to Let him know that you are available whenever he needs help or a listening ear, and make sure you mean it. Return his call even if you missed it the first time.
5. Celebrate milestones in your child’s life The indelible imprint a father makes will last, well beyond the teenage years. Date with Dad and Adventure with Dad are two unique events happening in March 2016 where fathers will get opportunities to affirm and guide their children even as they celebrate their coming of age.
Adapted by Focus on the Family Singapore from The Heart of a Father by Ken Canfield © 2006 Northfield Publishing and The Involved Father by Glenn Stanton © 2004 Focus on the Family. Used by permission.