By Howard Todd-Collins. Men are playing a more active role in parenting. They don’t just take the role of provider, protector, and disciplinarian in the family.
How do men influence their kid’s development?
By looking at how our kids see us we learn something about ourselves! Primary school kids in the US were asked to describe what makes a good dad. They came up with the following:
- “A good dad makes you feel safe”
- “A good dad can protect his children from getting hurt”
- “A good dad knows how to keep the bad guys away”
- “A good dad always listens to Mum”
I’m not sure about the last comment! However, protection and safety emerge as important for our kids. The research further explored the way children tend to see their dads as follows:
- The hero
- Wise and knowledgeable
The notion that ‘just being there’ may not be enough to influence our kids’ growth and development. Researchers have developed and defined quite specific characteristics or attitudes of fatherhood in relation to the developmental needs of children.
Here are 10 qualities that are proving significant, in helping our kids grow to be resilient, healthy individuals. In no particular order:
Being there through thick and thin. This is not just being present and correct. It’s about being consistently available for our kids through good times and bad.
Being personally engaged in our kids’ lives, interests, hopes and dreams on a daily basis. Being curious and attentive requires us to put our distractions to one side.
Showing compassion, hope and belief when our child needs it most. Compassion is a state of mind or attitude that really helps us to feel connected and close to the human experience of being a child.
4. Valuing of mother
Showing respect and love of our kids’ mother. This isn’t about just always agreeing with mum! Valuing is similar to validating our partner for who they are with all their imperfections. Showing love and respect requires action, not just thoughts, and teaches our sons and daughters how to be treated.
Listening empathically in order to be understanding, present and engaged. Putting ourselves into the shoes of others enables them to feel heard, respected and valued. Even if we don’t completely get it, or even like it!
6. Being verbally expressive
To clearly communicate, uphold guidelines, being tough yet fair, without belittling or being controlling.
7. Being human
To own mistakes, be open to feedback, and teach that growth is a lifelong endeavour. So, dad (and mum) get it wrong, sometimes! I reckon teaching our kids to be human means we have to show our own humanity, as often as possible.
Teach and live by the values of honesty and integrity.
Showing delight in our children through fun and play. The benefits of dads playing has been researched, particularly the rough and tumble play. It teaches our kids to regulate their feelings and accept limits and boundaries.
10. Being industrious
Model a healthy work ethic as a source of personal accomplishment and satisfaction. This isn’t necessarily associated only with work; it’s a valuable attitude toward tasks in general.