This month I thought it would be good to share some of the benefits of dad being involved with his children.
In the very early days after birth, dad’s caring for the physical needs of his baby is good for him, for baby, and for mom. He gains confidence in his ability to care for this tiny bundle and gets a good dose of attachment hormones just for holding and touching baby. If dad has been involved during pregnancy, baby already recognizes his voice. Tending to the physical needs helps baby attach to dad. Mom gets some needed assistance, time to rest and heal, and gains trust in dad’s ability to handle baby.
Some dad’s love to carry their baby in a sling. The rhythm of his movements and rumble of his deep voice are soothing to baby. Dad gets to show off his parenting skills and this will pay off in long term interest in his child.
Activities of daily living like: bathing, dressing, feeding and playing with baby, help mom believe family is a priority for dad. It builds baby’s trust that her needs will be met and helps dad know more of what is involved in 24/7/365 care of a baby. As baby begins to know the routines, he or she begins to look forward to dad coming home and play time with dad.
Dad plays differently with his baby and little child than mom does. Dad’s more physical play helps baby develop muscle control, strength, balance, and rhythm. Dad expects his children to try new things and experiment and find solutions. These are all skills that will help in preschool and beyond. Dad also doesn’t allow whining as much, so his children learn better ways to communicate their needs and desires.
Dad telling stories to his children helps them understand emotions, social situations, and tasks. Children want to imitate dad and telling stories is a great way to help them learn what is important to him.
Babies whose dad was highly involved with his children from infancy showed the following benefits:
- Higher cognitive functioning at six months
- Better problem solving skills as toddlers
- Higher IQ scores by age three
- More resilience in strange situations
- More likely to be curious and explore their environment
- Less prone to depression and have fewer negative emotions like fear or guilt
- Have greater tolerance for stress and frustration
- Are more playful, resourceful, skillful, and attentive when presented with a problem
- Have higher educational achievement relative to their parents and are more likely to succeed in their work as adults.
Dads who were highly involved reported they:
- Are more sensitive with their infants
- Have greater marital satisfaction
- Feel more self-confident as parents
- Find parenthood more satisfying
- Are more likely to feel happily married then and twenty years after the birth of their first child.
So mom, do all you can to make it possible for dad to have time with his baby and children. Allow him to become proficient in caring for his baby. (Remember he may figure out a better way to do some of the care. There is not just one correct way to do any of it.) If he is reticent to get involved, slowly but surely help him to find enjoyment in caring for his child.
To see more of the articles on Marriage and Parenting, please go to The Child-Ready Marriage