Understanding Father’s role in parenting

brought to you by Kamna Chibber

The structure of the family unit has changed drastically over the last decade across different strata of the society. Being parents to a newborn child no longer always finds the comfort of elderly support which was a significant feature of joint families. This shift ushers in the need to have a parent dyad with both partners involved in the parenting process, while supporting each other and playing off what the other partner requires. 

This thrusts pressure upon existing gender roles and stereotypes where traditionally a woman is expected to take care of the baby and his needs. In a revelatory survey that was conducted by Nielsen for Pampers it was observed that 88% fathers believe that a majority of the chores relating to a child need to be performed by the mother which was starkly in contrast to the need that 90% mothers experienced to have their husbands involved in the process of baby care.

The Need for Balance between Parents

Balance is the key to life and this statement is very much applicable to the parenting process. For any family unit to function effectively and to adapt to the changes that the arrival of a new member heralds the smooth and synchronous functioning of all other members is an essential. In the case of taking care of a baby this requires a rhythmic movement between both the mother and the father. This implies being attuned to each other and more importantly for the father to be able to partake some roles and responsibilities.

The balance that is needed is not just restricted to playing the role of parents. It also alludes to the need to balance between the professional roles and those within the home while being a parent. This requires a conscious decision on the part of parents and more so for the father to be actively involved in the process of caring for the baby. This aspect cannot be over-emphasized as for the optimal development of a child the involvement of both parents is a must and this does not require doing big things. 

The Small Things a Father Can Do

To be involved in caring for the baby the father does not need to do too many big things. The small things that a father can be engaged with in caring for the baby are sufficient to have a positive influence upon the child and his development, while also ensuring that the mother feels supported as well.

Something as simple as providing help in changing diapers or being involved in holding the child or playing with him or watching over him can go a long way in ensuring that a father is an active participant. Frequently fathers may shy away from a task such as changing diapers as it seems to be a messy process. However, it is perhaps one of the easier things that can be done by a father and does not take much time either.

The Impact a Father's Involvement Has on Child Development

The fact is that a father's involvement has been seen to have a significant positive impact upon a child's growth and development. Having two involved adults goes a long way in ensuring that the child is the recipient of multiple perspectives and is able to see that different individuals see and respond to the same situations differently. 

  • Impact on psychological well-being – Children with an involved father are observed to be more secure individuals. They feel less threatened and overwhelmed in situations and have better abilities for dealing with stressors and frustrations in their life. They tend to be less likely to get into trouble with peers and tend to be more insulated from engaging in risky behaviors later in life.

  • Enhancement of social skills – Children whose fathers are actively involved in the parenting process are seen to have better social skills. A father's way of interacting with the child in a playful stimulating way promotes the child's ability to regulate their feelings and behaviors and also allows for learning how to deal with aggressive impulses and physical contact. Thus, it helps enhance pro-social and positive behaviors in a child. This has a positive impact on their ability to form better social relationships. The kind of interactions a father can have with a child enhances his independence and helps push him in the direction of achievement.

  • Positive effect on cognitive abilities – Studies over the years have shown a positive correlation between a father's involvement in parenting and the effect on a child's intellectual abilities and achievement in school. It has been seen that involved fathers promote the development of better linguistic and cognitive abilities in a child. They are seen to have better readiness for school and can tolerate stress and frustration more readily.

Given the significant influence and impact a father can have in spurring the health, development and well-being of a child it makes it imperative that increasingly father's find ways of engaging in caring for their children. Remembering to do the simple things can go a long way in this process. 

It does take two to effectively parent a child and provide him with the right environment and supports to grow and achieve.



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