Fatherhood is more than providing food, shelter and enforcing discipline. Fatherhood is the consistent presence of strength, wisdom and love in your child’s life. Many dads struggle to be more involved in their child’s life, confused by old ideas of gender roles that conflict with their desire to connect and bond with their children. And let’s face it, being a father or a mother does not come with a manual after the child is born.
As the idea of family continues to change and more fathers are staying at home taking care of their children, the traditional expectations of mother and father have also evolved. Contrary to old paradigms, mothers are not the only ones who can nurture: fathers can also develop a bond early on with their children.
The benefit a child receives by having an active father in their life is far-reaching. Research shows that children with engaged fathers grow up to have healthier relationships, are more confident, are less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol and do better in school than their counterparts. With the benefits of an involved dad weighing so heavily on a child’s success, what can fathers do to be a positive influence in their child’s life?
It’s important to let go of stereotypes and expand your idea of what dads “can” do. Like mothers, fathers can also rock and hold their babies. Holding your baby to your chest and rocking them will help them feel more secure. Fathers can also talk or sing to their babies. Even in their earliest weeks, children are able to differentiate between their mother’s and their father’s voice. Additionally, your baby will learn to trust you as he hears your voice.
Participate in your child’s daily routines such as bath time, dressing, preparing meals for them and helping with homework. It’s these types of simple but intimate daily interactions that will help you foster a closer relationship with your children. If you or co parenting this can be achieved during the times you are with your child. There’s no act too small that won’t make an impact on your child.
Get to know your child by listening to their favorite music or watching their favorite shows together. Do something special with your child that only the two of you do, such as designating one day a month where you go to lunch or participate in an activity together. Use this one-on-one time to talk about their goals and dreams and offer encouragement.
Taking the time to engage yourself in your child’s life will benefit both of you, and leave your son or daughter with a loving, lifelong impression.