Moms and dads both participate in the development of their children, but in unique ways. Both offer love, acceptance and teach life skills, but each accomplishes these in different ways. It’s helpful if moms and dads are aware of these differences and mutually support each other.
Let’s look at one side of this process. How do moms help dads become better fathers?
In the beginning of a child’s life the mother normally has more contact with the baby. However, mom may encourage dad to be engaged with childcare since holding his child is crucial to a father bonding with his child. She can give him specific things to do. She can allow and support him in diaper changing, bathing, holding, swaddling and many other infant related tasks. Everyone thrives when they receive affirmation, and dads are no exception, so it’s important to pour on the praise in the early days of parenting.
If mom is critical of how dad is handling the baby, he may lose confidence and pull away from any care of their child. If discouraged, dad may become disengaged, affecting his relationship with his child for years to come.
Encouragement is Key.
Most of us think men are strong and don’t need words of encouragement, but in my experience, it has been quite the opposite. All of us, male or female, need someone to tell us we are of value; we are doing a good job; and we are a good parent.
So moms, offer encouragement to dad. Let him into his child’s life. Set him up to be successful. Don’t try to upstage him. Be partners in your child’s child and development. Remember, as a mom you are the gatekeeper for your child.
Encouragement as Challenge
Encouragement may come as praise, but may also come by way of challenge. Mothers and fathers should challenge each other to prevent wrong thinking or behavior. This can be very beneficial if done well and have negative consequences if done poorly. After all, no one likes to be criticized, especially when they are learning to do something new.
Typically, dads provide unique perspectives to the parent-child relationship. Many are doers, problem solvers, and hard workers. Living responsively is a powerful model for a child. After all, children typically learn more from what they see their parents do than what they hear their parents say. Both moms and dads need reminders that their children are watching them all the time and imitating what they see.
Encouraging Cognitive Development
I recently read a study of how reading to children affects their development. The article cited research indicating that children who were read to by their fathers had increased cognitive development. Why? It’s thought that while moms are more focused on the task at hand—the reading and helping the child understand what is read, but dads do things differently. Dads often went off script and interacted with the imagination of their child. This is definitely an area when moms can encourage dads to be involved.
In the Face of Poor Choices
Of course, for some dads (and moms too) derail their relationship with their children with poor choices. For example, drug and alcohol abuse or crime may separate them from their children. This does not mean they is doomed to a severed relationship. At Good Dads we often see fathers who want to turn their lives around and make better choices. When this happens, moms are key in keeping dads connected to their children. In most situations, children need to know who their dad is no matter what.
If you, as a dad, have made some of these mistakes – don’t give up! There is still time and help available for you to become the father you want to be and the dad your child needs.
The combined power of moms and dads with their different gifts and views is vitally important to children. Though their views or perspectives may be different, the goal is the same – children who are loved, cared for, and encouraged to face the road ahead of them.