Sandi Langham, LCPC

With the recent celebration of Father’s Day, fathers across America were honored. Father’s Day highlights the positive contributions that fathers make in their children’s lives. The identity of fathers has changed in recent decades and the needs of children for their father. Children face higher social pressures as they go into adolescence. With single parent homes, blended families, changing expectations for parents in the workforce, and increased cost of living, fathers are not expected to only be breadwinners. Fathers are needed to provide more childcare and nurturing. This is the case as many mothers return to work.

In the article “The Secret of Being a Good Father” from BBC (Hardach, 2019), being emotionally present is the top need for fathers with their children. “Ultimately it’s about being emotionally available, and meeting the child’s needs. ‘Different people do that in different ways…Fathers need to do it in a way that makes sense for them, that feels authentic, that allows them to be fully and coherently engaged in the relationship with their child.”

In this BBC article, Hardach says that in the present day, fathers are celebrated for being sensitive, caring, and hands-on these days. The article highlights that in the 1970’s most healthy child development research was focused on mothers, even though fathers are an intricate part of children’s lives and development. “Babies with emotionally engaged dads show better mental development as toddlers are less likely to have behavioral problems later on,” the article states. It also goes on to state that older children who have father figures are more satisfied with life and have better relationships.” Sharing in childcare also contributes toward children behaving more calmly due to having two positive role models in their lives.

So there are implications from the article that the make up being a positive father:

  • Share in time spent with the children – It is becoming more common now for fathers to stay at home with the children while mothers return to work part time or even full time. Minimally plan either “family” time or “father” time during your time off from work.
  • Be emotionally present – Often mothers are known for being emotionally present for children, but children benefit from expressing what they are emotionally experiencing with fathers too. This can be helpful in the form of comforting a baby/small child or talking about school experiences after school with a middle-school age or high school age child.
  • Affirm your child – Affirmations from a father toward his children goes a long way. It can be as simple as holding and cuddling a small child to encouraging an older child with “You’re doing a great job”.
  • Being Hands-on – It used to be that only mothers would change diapers, but these days fathers are active with more hands-on care including changing diapers, feeding the child a bottle or meal, or giving baths. For older children, fathers can help with homework or arrange to take their children to do activities together.
  • Play – Children are better behaved when they have a play outlet. Even simply sitting with a small child and making eye contact or watching them play is positive interaction. Playing with children contributes toward their cognitive, physical, social and emotional well-being.
  • Embrace your own fathering style – One final point of the article is to embrace your own fathering style. It was highlighted that many positive parenting styles among fathers are used across various cultures. Being authentic and engaged in a relationship with your child is what is most important.

If you are preparing to become a new father, have just become a new father, or are struggling in your relationship with your child, you may want to contact Symmetry Counseling to better understand an enhance your relationship with your child.

Resource

Hardach, Sophie. (2019, June 12). The Secret of Being a Good Father. BBC. Retrieved from
http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20190606-how-to-be-a-good-father-to-a-newborn-son-or-daughter?utm_source=pocket-newtab