The earlier dads are involved the better
It's completely normal for new dads to have challenges finding their fathering feet. Don't worry, just like anything new a bit of practice helps to build skills and confidence.
The benefits of being a hands-on dad right from the start are clear for both for dads and tamariki. Dads all over Aotearoa are building strong foundations for secure and lasting relationships with their kids, simply through daily routines like bathing, feeding and nappy changing.
Studies have shown that tamariki who have early and regular positive interactions with dad develop strong problem-solving skills, cope better with everyday frustrations and can navigate new challenges with ease.
Fathers and mothers parent differently
Not everyone parents in the same way. Mums and dads are a good example of that.
Child psychiatrist and author Dr Kyle Pruett says one of the most important things about dad is that he’s not mum! That’s not saying mums are not important, far from it, but having positive involvement from both mum and dad has long lasting benefits for kids. They learn there are different types of human beings, and they come with their own amazing and different qualities.
Mums commonly provide a base of love and security, which is so important for the brain development of young children. Dads complement that nurturing with excitement and challenge, which meets your child’s need for development through discovery.
Positive and involved fathering teaches kids about what it is to be a dad, how dads think and how they behave. It may be different from mum or from how their own dad behaved. That’s okay. Dads should never underestimate the love that their child has for them.
How can you support other parents to be the best dad or mum they can?
- encourage each other to be involved in their own way
- resist criticising other parents, especially in front of kids
- speak openly and honestly with each other and share worries
- give time and listen respectfully without judgement or interruption.
Don’t get left on the sideline
Sometimes dads can feel left out of the parenting game. Even the information available for parents can appear to be designed with just mums in mind. So it's worth reminding yourself and the dads in your life how key dads are to the wellbeing of tamariki both now and in the future. Men who are positively involved and stay involved with their kids make awesome dads, and grandads!
It can feel like other priorities get in the way sometimes. Work, church, sport and recreational activities can take a time away from kids. It’s important to remember that they won’t be children forever. The time to be alongside playing, singing, reading and enjoy time together is now!
How are you and your whānau going to celebrate the dads in your life this year?