At Pregnancy Care Center (PCC), we work mostly with expectant, first-time dads. That means we get to see the value in men connecting with their children at the earliest possible moments. How a man responds to the news that his partner is pregnant and to the ultrasound pictures of his child can set the stage for bonding with the baby after she/he is born.
Moms and kids benefit greatly from having a good dad in their lives. Fathers may underestimate the positive influence and impact they can have on their children because of their own painful childhood experiences or cultural mixed messages. But a mom's support and encouragement can go a long way toward building those bonds between a dad and his son or daughter.
I learned this lesson the hard way. I am a step, adoptive and biological mom to five young adults, and if I could go back in time, this is one thing I would do differently. I would encourage their father more.
Moms tend to worry about and hover over their children more than dads do. And if we aren't careful, this worrying can frustrate and suffocate not only our children, but their father too.
Generally, dads are more spontaneous and . . . dare I say, fun? That was certainly the case in our family. My children, even as toddlers, exhibited such wonder and joy when their dad took them to the playground or the Nature Center, when they carved pumpkins together or raked huge leaf piles to jump in. I was always worried about them falling off the monkey bars or skinning their knees or spotting a snake in the leaf pile. You name it—I could think of a scenario where something scary or unsafe was going to happen. Above all else, I wanted them to be safe and secure.
If I could encourage moms to take one action step toward supporting the dads in their lives, it would be to step back, bite your tongue and let dads be dads.
What I began to realize through the years is that my children needed the balance between being nurtured and feeling free. It was good for them to take risks and experience adventure, even if they came home dirty and a little banged up.
It wasn't just my children that needed that balance. All children do. Connecting with both parents in meaningful, albeit different, ways helps them grow into confident, thriving young adults—a true win/win for families and communities.