father playing with son

The Importance of Dads

For a long time now we’ve known the valuable role that mothers play in the development of children, through nurturing and play.

Research also acknowledges the powerful role which Dads play in the family dynamics generally, and in the long term well-being of their children.

The best gift a Dad can give his kids, is his time!

Being a Dad is probably the most important job you’ll ever do. The way you interact and behave with your children will have a huge impact on them – what they do, how they feel about themselves and how they turn out – both now, and down the track. As with anything that is important to you, being a great Dad requires time, energy and effort!

The Role of Fathers…

When fathers are actively (and positively) engaged in their children’s lives, the benefits are tremendous. It’s been shown that:

  • Children who have formed a strong attachment to both their mother and father are more likely to form successful adult relationships
  • Infants learn better how to deal with a variety of people and personalities when they have experienced the different vocal patterns, play styles,  and ways of cuddling of both Mum and Dad.
  • Fathers can be as sensitive to infant cues, and as responsive to them, as mothers.
  • Father’s are able to hold their infants attention longer in more vigorous ways and different types of play to the mother.
  • Boys are more likely to be readers if their Dads read to them
  • When the biological father is not present, a competent, caring male figure in the fathering role can be equally effective.

Every Dad needs encouragement from family and friends – especially from the mother of the child. This includes:

  • Encourage him to take part in the birth process, and to have time alone with the newborn.
  • Mums, accept the help when Dad offers to change the nappy or to give the child a bath.
  • React positively to his involvement, even if his parenting style is different to yours.
  • Provide plenty of opportunity early on, for caregiving by the Dad. Help him practice the new responsibilities with patience and enthusiasm.

A lot of people still feel that parenting means ‘by mothers…

Remember that Dad’s can do everything Mums do for your baby

or child, except breastfeeding!

Image that a (well intentioned) Mum insists on being the one who knows best how to change a nappy, or settle a child to sleep, or to feed them. That Mum does become an ‘expert’ because she gets to practice her skills regularly. If the Dad is discouraged from helping he doesn’t get the chance to develop his parenting skills. Now, imagine if something happened to Mum, where she needed to go to hospital for a day or two, for example. The baby/ toddler would then be cared for by Dad. This child has only experienced the way Mum feeds him, changes him, holds him etc and so not only is the child stressed because Mum is absent, the baby/ toddler is also distressed because Dad does things differently to the way the baby/ toddler is used to.

It’s really important, and beneficial to a child to experience the slightly different ways that parent work with them, and to learn that both parents can care for me (the baby/ toddler)

Enjoy your special role Dads, and …. Mums – encourage and acknowledge all the great work they do.

When a child has the important adults in a strong parenting role, the benefits are huge!

Happy Fathers Day!


Photo by Luke Addison via flickr.