‘Babies who have benefited from paternal interactions from an early age get on better with their peers,’ says eminent author and parenting expert Dr. Lin Day.
‘They’re academically more successful, stay in school longer, use drugs and alcohol less frequently and are less likely to get involved with crime. They may also be better equipped socially and psychologically than infants who receive very little attention from their fathers.’
So it is evident that a father’s influence is equally important and beneficial to any child’s mental development and upbringing as that of the mother. Also with more and more mothers turning professional and not working from home, it becomes incumbent upon dads to take on some of the responsibilities that hitherto belonged to mums. This helps in not only promoting a positive father-child relationship between the two but also in establishing an immediate emotional connection. Young dads, therefore, need to take on a more defining role in equal parenting right from the start if they are to bond effectively with their children.
Some essential chores that enable immediate dad-child bonding are
- Diaper duty – Most fathers these days are already present when their kids are ‘being’ born. This is just an extension of that emotional connect which helps young fathers bond with their infants. Changing diapers encourages a more hands-on experience with your child
- Night duty –Though tiring, nothing can be more satisfying than putting your cranky little infant to sleep successfully after maybe a bottle feed. This makes for great equal parenting with the child getting used to you as well as its mum. It also gives you a sense of shared responsibility. Helps tired mothers get some well-earned sleep too.
- Playing – Keeping aside a few hours to bond through play is guaranteed to get you more brownie points than you can imagine in the bonding stakes. Tickling, hugging, a bit of noisy rough and tumble and horseplay are all par for the course.
- Walking – You can chat, croon or sing while you cuddle your little one to sleep or walk older children by hand exploring perhaps the garden- Physical bonding helps the child connect and understand a father’s love better.
- Fixing a meal – Nothing is as fun or chaotic as fixing your little one’s meal. The joy of doing something that usually only mothers do makes for some great bonding-chuckles while enabling some time off for mothers.
- Most importantly – Reading to your child. A father reading bedtime stories to his child, Harvard University experts believe is more beneficial-especially in language/mental development- than mothers doing the same. ‘The impact is huge, particularly if dads start reading to kids under the age of two’ they say. So it is imperative that you as a father should get involved in your child’s reading activities sooner than later.
So how do you do that?
- Make reading to your child a creative everyday affair. From the simple ‘Spot The Dog’(Eric Carle) and ‘Goodnight Moon’(Margret W Brown) to ‘Noddy and Big Ears’(Enid Blyton) your curiosity filled youngster will soon look to you to explain what every little word and action means. If that doesn’t help to bond what will?Act stories out, ham it up. The sillier the better. Your child will love it. It makes being together such fun
- Act stories out, ham it up. The sillier the better. Your child will love it. It makes being together such fun
- Teach them to read. Make it enjoyable. From stringing nonsensical perhaps even rhyming words to ones that begin to make sense, it will tickle your child’s sense of fun. Reading aloud will suddenly no longer be a chore and if daddy can do it so can the toddler learning to speak.
- Choose stories that they can relate to or create stories that they can finish. Let it engage their imagination. Make it a source of entertainment. It gives them a sense of participation that will help further strengthen your relationship
- Reading with Daddy improves the child’s vocabulary no doubt but also lays the foundation for a closer and warmer father-child rapport of shared memories.
- Some quiet reading time with dad after dinner also enables a feeling of happy, secure contentment and togetherness before being tucked in. The father just as the mother thus becomes equally important for the child’s emotional security. This greatly benefits the child’s all-round development.
- Choosing or buying books on library/outings with dad also creates a purpose of shared experience which not only inculcates a love of books but will also ensure your child a head start in school
- Television, video games, the internet and now the smartphone all compete for your child’s attention today but as a responsible parent insisting on some quality book time every day no matter what will reap your child a lifetime of rewards. It will not only help your child get fonder of books, increase the kid’s self-esteem/self-confidence- through more knowledge- but will also hugely strengthen your father-child interpersonal association for life.
Thus it is evident that for a closer father-child relationship to bloom and blossom ‘Reading with Dad’ is a must. It is as much if not more an important source of bonding as anything else.