The other day, while sharing my parenting journey with a fellow mom-to-be, I realised the number of times I mentioned how my partner was involved in everything since the time we became parents. From swaddling the babies to burping them after every feed, from changing diapers to even helping me express milk in initial few weeks- my husband has been equally involved in this journey. And that made me realise the bigger picture about role of fathers- how fathers impact child development.
The new-age dad, as some like to call “Father 2.0”, is not just involved in paying the bills or being involved in “rough & tumble” play; Fathers play a surprisingly larger role in their children’s development, from language and cognitive growth in toddlerhood to emotional & social skills in the child’s growing years.
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While it has essentially been believed that fathers basically set the tone of the household and it’s the mothers who are more involved and affect the child’s development. Perhaps because this belief is so strong, Fathers are often pressured to take a backseat when it comes to being involved in raising their kids. I have seen many face ridicule for things like admitting that they help change diapers or expressing an interest in taking paternity leave.
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In reality, although a mother’s love is important and special, having an active father figure plays an equally important role in the healthy development of a child.
Here are 5 critical ways fathers impact child development:
1. Provide a Different Perspective
Fathers are not mothers- agreed! But surprisingly, the distinct approaches to handling kids and interactions that are unique to a father & mother seem to have a beneficial effect on children. The unique & contrasting interaction that kids have with two parents offers variety in their experience and learnings. It also fosters a capacity for these children to attach to each parent as a separate individual with distinct relational styles.
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2. Elevate Intelligence Levels
An involved and caring father increases the child’s intellect. An active father can help increase child’s emotional intelligence and problem solving capabilities. Studies show that children with fathers who were actively involved throughout the 1st year of their child’s life perform better on cognitive development assessments and demonstrate increased capacity for curiosity and exploration.
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3. Boost Confidence
Besides increasing IQ levels, a father’s emotional support and involvement also results in higher EQ amongst kids. Children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident to explore their surroundings and have better social connections with peer. These children are also more patient and equipped to handle stressful situations from very early in life.
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4. Promote Independence
Fathers tend to stand behind their children so the children face their social environment, whereas mothers tend to position themselves in front of their children, seeking to establish visual contact with the children. Unlike mothers, who stress on nurturing, fathers often push achievement. Thus children who grow up with involved fathers are more comfortable exploring the world.
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5. Provide a Positive Role Model to look up to
By reinforcing good & appropriate behaviour and imparting the right value system, Fathers provide a positive male role model for their children. As a result, children with more involved fathers tend to grow up with a healthy familiarity with the world, especially, the world of men. Such kids tend to have fewer behavioral and impulse control problems and a higher level of sociability. These children also tend to be more compassionate and generous, with an increased awareness of the needs and rights of others.
In short, fathers have a positive and powerful impact on a child’s development. A father’s involvement in their child’s life can start as early as in the womb. It is imperative to stop viewing a father’s role through the lens of what is known about mothers. Rather the unique and important ways fathers influence their children should be emphasised upon.
This post has originally been written for http://www.helloparent.in