A Father must take an active role prior to the delivery of their new child. The paternal-maternal relationship must be supported and flourish prior to the delivery. The most visible roles of the father have included economic and physical protection. Yet roles of equal importance include the fostering of social-emotional, cognitive, language and motor development.
Fathers must be competent and caring role models. They must be attentive and responsive to the needs of their child. The quality of interaction is just as important as the quantity of interaction and it is important paternal involvement be supported and encouraged prior to and at the time of delivery to prevent fathers from disengaging from the care of their child.
Mothers and fathers can both experience post-partum depression. The added responsibilities, obligations and stress that come with a newborn can lead to depression. Intervention must be sought for post-partum mood changes. Two-way communication between parents and the sharing of feelings are the first steps in the identification and management of post-partum depression.
Although generalizations oversimplify gender patterns of support there are two types of support infants and children must receive. This support may come from traditional gender relationships or from non-traditional gender relationships. Gentleness and security are typical maternal support patterns while independence and confidence building are typical paternal support patterns. Fathers often provide a “rough and tumble” approach to life experience. They teach children how to manage aggressive impulses and how to learn how to control emotions. In this way fathers teach their children how to make their way through the rigors of the outside and often unforgiving world. These skills enable a child to develop the discipline to control emotions and frustrations. This leads to personality traits that support empathy, respect of others and the importance of genuineness.
Fathers must provide a secure, safe and supportive environment for their child. This must begin early in the child’s life and must be linked to the building of emotional competence. Emotional competence allows a child to recognize, respond to and understand emotions and leads to increased self-esteem and self-worth. The life skills that result from this training and modeling foster the development of social confidence and competence. Fathers who teach these skills to their child improve their child’s ability to initiate and maintain friendships throughout their lives.
When fathers engage in vigorous play intellectual development is supported. Children learn how to use their bodies to solve problems and learn the importance of exploration and risk-taking. Fathers support the use of more challenging language and focus on the importance of social communication and teamwork. Vigorous play improves motor skills for both large and small muscle groups, improves hand-eye coordination skills and encourages both one on one and team directed activities. Such activities encourage and support independent thought and behavior for a child.
Fathers are the model of so many important behaviors for children. The goal of every father is to share what they love with who they love.