My blog is primarily about me mommying my little son. But what about the fathers voice? I would be wrong if I said I was playing the primary role in raising my child. #BabyT’s father has been very involved right from the time of his birth and even now. I think he was more comfortable changing diapers, holding and comforting a tiny baby than I ever was. I had never had a personal experience with holding newborn babies and I was more scared of hurting the tiny than nurturing him. Even in the first few days of breastfeeding, someone had to hold #babyT against me.
For my post on the letter F for the #AtoZChallenge I had no doubt I would write about fathers but I did not want this to be another run of the mill post about how fathers change diapers or burp babies, never miss a Doctor’s appointment and school PTM. I wanted to research and write about the impact this fathering business has on children and their development.
Last year for the #AtoZBloggingChallenge F was for Fine Motor Skills.
Fathers need to play more
The inspiration for this came from a discussion we had with our paediatrician. On a routine visit around the time, #babyT was 1.5 years old, I mentioned to him that he was not throwing the ball. He had well-developed motor skills but he didn’t play with balls or attempt to throw them. Our paediatrician laughed, probably because he got a million such absurd questions every day. He told us to give T more time and added, maybe daddy should spend more time playing with the lil man. That kind of threw me off.
Firstly daddy was, in fact, beginning to spend less time playing with sonny boy due to work demands. Secondly, don’t women play with bats and bikes? I knew how to play these games with my child equally well. Sexist much?
Fathers do play
Turns out it isn’t so much sexism but rooted in genes and nature. Research has shown that dads do more of rough play while moms provide the nurturing play – playing with dolls, toys, reading etc. Dads don’t need any props or toys to play with. They wrestle, jump on things, play fight, throw babies in the air and end up being the cool parent for it. Sigh.
Dads also communicate differently with children and this forms the base for children to understand the difference between how men and women communicate and behave differently with each other, in situations and life.
My research also told me that fathers encouraged their children to take risks and push – jump higher, climb higher. Mothers tried to make children secure and comfortable – don’t jump, don’t climb.
Well, around our house, this is the opposite – I am the one pushing #babyT to try new rides, climb the monkey bars and sometimes fall and bleed. Yes, this happened. And you know what the funny thing is – babyT clambered all over me, blood and tears when this happened. I loved him, kissed him and cleaned him. The tears did not stop. But when daddy entered the scene and told him that this was how daddy had also fallen when he was young and bled but was fine eventually, #babyT calmed down and smiled. Now he’s all raring to go on the monkey bars.
It is also said that fathers discipline differently. They are all about rules, being strict and fair, whereas mothers are about forgiveness, sympathy and care. Ermm… not in our house. We are the opposite again. I am all for rules, routines, patterns, order and daddy is about the chill, it happens.. love, care, comfort, hope. Is it just the Libran in me that cares for the rules or is something new happening here?
Let’s do some more research on fathers
In an attempt to further understand the impact of fathers on children’s development I invested in some books and found this book Do Fathers Matter?: What Science Is Telling Us About the Parent We’ve Overlooked – by Paul Raeburn.
You can buy this book here: Do Fathers Matter?: What Science Is Telling Us About the Parent We’ve Overlooked
(This is an Amazon affiliate link, I will earn a teeny tiny commission if you choose to buy from this link. It does not cost you anything extra.)
A father of 5 kids Raeburn looks intensively at scientific and behavioural studies which focused on the father and the role they played right from the genes they provide to the foetus to the amount of time they spent in playing, raising and being involved in their children’s lives.
Raeburn’s research told me that it was a lot to do with genetics, DNA, upbringing and the environment provided by fathers that determined how a child turned out. This book also goes on to present research findings which show that a father’s involvement in his children’s lives, ensures that the child does well in his future life.
However, family norms and structures are very non-conventional today and this left me wondering how the children from these set-ups fared.
My friend Udita who is a single mommy to lil Zuzu, says that while she would have loved to bring up Zuzu in a household with a daddy around, she doesn’t feel Zuzu is missing out on a father figure in her life. Udita’s father, i.e. Zuzu’s grandad is the one who provides her with all the “fathering” she needs. She adds that now that she is on the other side she feels it is more of a societal norm and pressure that a family has to be structured in a certain way. Since she lives in a joint family setup where her parents are around, Zuzu does get to experience the love, and care of a father from her grandfather.
Udita in her ever gracious manner says that a child goes wherever there is true and genuine love… that may be from a father or grandpa or even that distant family friend who is funny but a little annoying. It was never planned or predecided that you dear, grandpa will stand in for the role of the father.. it is just the feeling of genuine love that transpires between them.
It is not just to do with a single parent, or women without a male in the household choosing to have/ adopt a child. Today we also see relationships and households based on different sexual preferences – gay/ lesbian households for instance. These families also desire to have a child in the picture to love, cherish and grow with. And children from these families are doing well in their lives, have normal & healthy relationships with members of both sexes. If anything I think they are more sensitive and tolerant of the world and its complexities.
Healthy parenting is one which involves both the mother and father taking an active part and involvement in a child’s life. But it is debatable whether the role of mother/ father is to be played by the biological one alone. A child needs love, attention, sensitivity and respect and that could come from anyone. Dads are important and we love them a lot.
This blog post is part of a series for the #AtoZBloggingChallenge where my theme is
New Age Parenting: Parenting in 201x.
Read my theme reveal post here.
To read all the posts for the #AtoZChallenge go here – #AtoZ2018
You may particularly enjoy Discipline – the no more tears formula