A Teachable Moment—Fathers Have Feelings, Too! - MetroFamily Magazine
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A Teachable Moment—Fathers Have Feelings, Too!

by Dr. Susan Bartell

Reading Time: 2 minutes 

Every year, mothers struggle to find the perfect gift for their child’s dad. Not another tie…maybe some tools, a cool gadget or cutting-edge electronics? Maybe this year you can recruit the kids to create a homemade present for their father. There are so many good ideas!

However, in addition to anything you might purchase or create, I’d like to suggest an another, meaningful, and longer lasting gift idea. Many dads underestimate the important role that they play in their child’s life. It is rare that men are raised to appreciate the importance of a close relationship between father and child—this type of intimacy is often still reserved for mothers. This is because despite small changes, our society, unfortunately, still encourages men to focus primarily on their role as financial provider, rather than valuing the other, equally meaningful ways that a dad can bring value to his child’s life.

Therefore, this Father’s Day, I strongly encourage you to help your child’s dad to see that his relationship with his child is so much more than he might imagine.  Whether you are a stay-at-home mom or a work-out-of-the home mom, I would like to offer a few ways to make this Father’s Day, just a little more special for dads and kids.

  • Embrace difference. Moms and dad offer a child different, but equally important life skills. Therefore, don’t get angry when dad roughs around a bit more, or is just a little less patient than you might be. While your instinct is to protect your child, dad’s way of connecting will help him develop resilience and flexibility, both important life skills.
  • Shake up the routine. Is bath-time your domain? What about books before bed or homework help? Many moms complain that they ‘do everything’, but, in fact, are reluctant to give up control. But now it’s time to relinquish one or two of your routines and hand it over to dad. You may be uncomfortable doing so (will he do a good job?), and at first, your child (or even dad) might resist the change. But, stick with it because for both your child and dad, having the chance to bond over daily routines is an invaluable. And remember, it’s good for your child to learn how to adapt to dad doing things in a different way.
  • Talk it out. Do your best to share big and small decision making with dad as often as possible. Dads want to be a part of their child’s day to day life—some of them just don’t realize it because it’s not how they were raised. When dad sees that you want and respect his opinion about his child, it will give him the confidence and encouragement to break free from the stereotypes with which he was raised.
  • Make new friends. Seek out friendships with other moms who encourage dads to attend parent/teacher conferences, coach little league, and take charge of teeth brushing. Dads who see other dads that are involved will feel good about this role themselves.

The efforts that you make to support this important relationship will pay off, not just now, but for many years to come.

Happy Father’s Day!

Dr. Susan Bartell is America’s #1 Family Psychologist. Her latest parenting book is The Top 50 Questions Kids Ask. You can learn more about her at www.drsusanbartell.com.

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