Father’s presence contributes uniquely to children’s development

As Father’s Day approaches, focus on how men positively contribute to the development and richness of their children.

Men do not parent worse or better than women, just differently. Photo credit: Pixabay.
Men do not parent worse or better than women, just differently. Photo credit: Pixabay.

According Zero to Three, the male presence not only contributes in a unique way in the lives of children, but also promotes development through their nurturing interaction. Children start looking for their father when they realize that other kids have a father and a mother. If no father is present, then one is made up or children find a male to their liking and assign him the role.

The child who has no nurturing male in his or her life can demonstrate a strong desire to have one – this hunger starts very early in life.  It is no wonder, and only natural, that when looking at children’s development, there is great significance in discussing the role men play in the lives of young children.

Emotional paternity, or the close bond with an adult male, whether it be a grandfather, uncle or other male to a child, not only provides emotional support to a child but can have a lasting profound affect in a child’s life.

Men do not parent worse or better than women, just differently. From the very beginning, men that are present at the birth of a child tend to develop attachment. Greenberg’s classic study of the impact on fathers witnessing their children’s birth described the attachment fathers develop as “engrossment” or being “so in love,” resulting in the desire to spend time gazing at or touching their baby. Unfortunately, they often are left to take a backseat and leave mom’s to do much of the nurturing because society values have set up expectations.

Traditionally, men have been looked at as providers. Men who do choose to nurture their children find little support in their new roles with other males, but will take great pleasure in playful experiences with their children. The experiences men bring to children provide them with curiosity experiences, encourage children to actively solve physical and intellectual challenges, provide tactile and sensory interactions through a jungle gym experience and contribute in other meaningful ways.

Finally, as families celebrate this Father’s Day, let us celebrate the wonderful contributions men bring to children and families around them.

For more articles on child development, parenting and life skill development, please visit the Michigan State University Extension website.

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