Menstuff® has compiled the following information on Helping
Fathers to Become Dads.
Help Fathers Be Dads
Admit it: When it comes to parenting, your guy lets you do most of the heavy lifting -- and you like it that way. For eons, thats how most families operated. But in recent decades, the dynamic has shifted: Fathers have almost tripled the hours they spend focused on their kids, from 2.5 per week in 1965 to 7 per week in 2003, according to research from the University of Maryland.
This is great news for you and for kids -- when they have a close relationship with their father, theyre more likely to form intimate relationships as adults, according to a study from the University of Haifa School of Social Work. Studies have also shown that kids with involved dads are happier, more confident, and more independent, says Armin Brott, author of Fathering Your School-Age Child. Other studies have shown that kids with active dads even perform better in school and are more likely to attend college. Want to foster more father-child bonding in your family? Check out our age-by-age guide to rituals and activities that are real-dad-tested -- and mom- and kid-approved.
Babys First Year
The newborn period is actually a great time for Dad to get involved because bonding now builds a foundation for more intense bonding later -- not to mention that Moms exhausted and really needs his help, says Brott.
What Dad Can Do
My husband, Matt, found his niche as bedtime crooner to our daughter, Sammi Rose. Hed make up little tunes right on the spot. In fact, some of her first words were Daddys tar [guitar], and shed request concerts from him! -- Lisa Blizzard, 39, Chicago
I let Daddy do it his way. Even if that means he does things I wouldnt do -- like use shampoo on Sams body (instead of body wash) or sit with Jonah on the couch, watching a baseball game for an hour. I understand that when he does something with the boys that hes truly interested in, its more meaningful for all of them. -- Rebecca Leibowitz, 37, Pittsburgh
It wasnt long before I lacked the strength for the football hold, where your baby rests along the length of your arm and is instantly soothed. So Jonathan had a job that I couldnt do, which gave him a real connection to Josie and Maxine. -- Marjorie Ingall, 39, New York City
Horseplay is most dads forte -- a great counterpoint to moms more nurturing style of interaction -- and during the toddler years, those physical skills are in high demand. Through rough-and-tumble play, kids learn to use their bodies in new ways, which brings new kinds of development and a new spotlight role for the father, says Michael Connor, Ph.D., professor emeritus of psychology at California State University Long Beach.
What Dad Can Do
My girls, ages 2 and 3, love to play a game called Chyna Doll (named after the female wrestler Chyna), in which they wrestle their father to the floor and jump all over him. Its so different from how I play with them. Plus, it teaches the girls trust -- they get to roughhouse and be thrown in the air and still know that theyre safe. -- Helena Bogosian, 41, Fort Lee, NJ
Since the girls were toddlers, Johns been playing a game where he gets down on his hands and knees and acts like a raging bull, head-butting the kids and rolling them around the floor, all the while making rrr noises. They pretend to run away but they fall down on purpose because they love to get caught. In another game, he cradles them in his arms and sings Rock-a-Bye Baby while swinging them wildly -- really high and fast. I cant even look, but they love it! I think it makes them feel like their dad is nurturing them in a traditional way, but it has a twist that makes it silly and fun. -- Debby Clarke, 40, Colorado Springs
Study after study has shown that the more children are read to, the faster theyll develop vocabulary and listening- comprehension skills. Even dads that were baby-shy up till now will find it easier to interact with their kids by reading with them, says Brott.
What Dad Can Do
When David noticed that our kids, Aaron, 3, and Rachel, 6, could finish sentences -- even whole pages -- from their favorite books, he started making up silly endings that make them giggle. Its a ritual he does with them every night and that they look forward to. I can hear peals of laughter from down the hall. -- Lesley Rigg-Goldblum, 40, Sycamore, IL
Gregory, my husband, has been the designated book reader to our three kids -- now 9, 5, and 2 -- since the very beginning. Sometimes while hes reading he changes the word Mommy to Daddy because so many of the books feature moms as caretakers, and he wants our kids to see him in that role, too. He does such a good job reading -- animating the voices of pirates and giants and generally hamming it up -- that there are certain books the kids wont allow anyone but him to read. -- Wendy Bass Keer, 40, Valley Glen, CA
Kids are finally at an age where Dad can share some of what he loves as well as help kids find their own passions. When Dad introduces his special interests to kids, he invites them to be part of his world, says Connor.
What Dad Can Do
Scott is a private pilot, so it was natural for him to share his love of flying with our daughter, Gabriella, 4. Nearly every weekend they drive up a little hill alongside Los Angeles International Airport. They lie on the grass and watch the planes fly over their heads. Together they shout out a five-second countdown to landing and high-five each other when they see the white smoke from the airplanes tires as they touch down at high speed. -- Kathie Papera, 36, Manhattan Beach, CA
My husband has taught our girls to build basic wood structures (small houses), how to prepare dinner (now they all cook together), and how to track animals in nature. Not doing traditionally girly stuff gives my daughters fantastic practical experiences. I see their self-confidence soaring when they say things like, I know how to use a wood saw, a hammer, and a corner wrench! or I made chicken and pasta for my family last night! -- Laurie Hurley, 50, Newbury Park, CA
Scott, an illustrator, draws pictures on the paper napkins he packs in my boys school lunches. For our youngest son, Carter, the illustrations evolved into a cartoon character called Captain Carter. At dinner one night, Carter, then 8, insisted on drawing special napkins for everyone. He wanted to share the love! -- Sylvia Bodell, 45, Dallas
Wade is usually the one who gives our 3-year-old daughter, Libby, her bath. That started early on -- because he was spending the day outside the house, it was important that there was something simple he could do routinely with the baby. Libby still prefers her dads brand of splish-splash over mine any day! -- Dae Levine, 36, New York City
My kids, Alex, 8, and Zoe, 5, spend the last daylight hours
every day in the yard with their dad, an avid sports fan, punting a
football or practicing the perfect pitch. He never plops down on the
couch to read the sports page first or tells the kids he has
something else to do. And they all love it. -- Samantha
Gianulis, 36, San Diego