Whether we like it or not, we mums must learn how to take care of our babies, from the moment we find out we’re pregnant. But it’s not the same scenario for fathers. Do you notice your partner not helping out as much with childcare? Not that it’s any excuse, but here’s a possible explanation for that.
Not a Hands-On Dad
We all have different parenting skills and adjust what we do based on what we think is best for our kids. The society also has certain expectations of what makes a responsible mother or father. Most of the time, when a child is born, an unwritten rule already exists about what is expected from the mum and the dad.
For instance, mums are automatically the default parent – the one who takes care of the kids and stay up late watching over them. Meanwhile, dads are expected to work and provide for all the family’s needs.
So it should come as no surprise why the “just the dad” mentality has emerged. According to Psychology Today:
“Fathers are getting the message that they’re not worth much other than a paycheck and a bemusing babysitter when mom needs a night out. It’s no surprise that fathers have started to believe the messages and subsequently feel that they can’t do what they need to do to be confident and competent as parents.”
According to a study conducted by the Ohio State University, there are several factors that influence a father’s outlook when it comes to parenting. Why do some men believe they are tied to the usual “just a dad” stereotype while others believe they can contribute more than just bringing home the bacon? Here are the possible reasons.
Image Source: iStock
Just a Dad Mentality – Why Some Men Step Up and Some Don’t
As mentioned earlier, society has ingrained what is expected from men and women as parents. Yes, blame it on gender stereotypes, which empowers some dads to think they just need to fulfil only was is expected of them – work, be the family’s provider and protector, and that’s it. Childcare? Not their cup of tea. Leave it all to mum.
Meanwhile, some men who grew up seeing their fathers take a more hands-on approach to parenting see nothing wrong with taking on caregiving roles at home and are more willing to participate in the household.
Attachment During Childhood
Another important factor is a man’s attachment to his own parents or caregivers during childhood. Usually, his parenting reflects whether he had a stable attachment to his parents or he experienced anxiety in this area.
Attachment has something to do with being secure in your relationship with others. For instance, men who were abandoned as children have anxiety levels, which in turn reduce their own belief in their parental abilities. They might feel that there is no need to develop a close relationship with their children, whom they might abandon or will abandon them later on.
A man’s personality can also be a factor in whether he will stick to the “just a dad” stereotype or step up to the plate. Some men with high neurotic tendencies worry about many things. They get easily upset and sometimes have a hard time self-regulating their emotions. They may seem impatient to do tedious work and answering to their child’s daily needs.
Image Source: iStock
Men, Don’t Be Satisfied with Being “Just a Dad”
While it can be easy to subscribe to gender stereotypes and be content with what society expects of fathers, there are several research that shows how dads greatly influence their child’s development. So if you’re a dad and you care about your children, you can go out of your way to be more involved and present in their day-to-day lives.
Save your day off at work to bond with your kids. There are different activities you can try to get to know your children and create lasting memories with them. Here are some ideas:
It’s a plus if you know how to play a musical instrument and can teach it to your kid, but you do not have to be a pro to explore music together. Check out some tutorial videos on YouTube and you can learn them together.
Teach your child to ride the bike.
If you have the physical ability to do it, then this bonding and trust-building activity is right up your alley. Take this opportunity to teach your child about self-control and responsibility, along with skills that they can use later in life.
Do something you enjoyed doing when you were a kid.
Do you have a fond memory of you and your dad when you were a child? You can try recreating this with your own son or daughter.
Or if not, is there something that you enjoyed doing growing up? You can introduce your favourite hobby to your kid and create lasting memories of your own. Who knows? Maybe your child will like reading comic books or dissecting bugs just like you did when you were a child.
These activities can be baby steps to getting comfortable with taking the role of a present and involved parent, but don’t forget that little things like putting your baby to sleep, preparing their snacks or picking up your child from school are also important ways to show your family that you’re more than “just a dad.”
If you’re still unsure of the importance of your role in the family, remember that:
- A father’s strength can be powerful and make your child feel safe
- A dad’s words can be fueling and inspirational and make a child feel empowered
- Hugs from a dad can be deeply comforting and make a child feel secure
- A dad’s smile can make a child feel confident
- Time with a dad can be fun, productive and memorable
- A dad’s guidance can be life-changing and foundational
- A father’s correction can be life-saving and life-giving
So if you ever feel that you’re just a dad, remember that to your family, you are so much more. And you can be so much more if you just believe that you can do it. We’re rooting for you, too!
Image Source: iStock
Translated in English and republished with permission from theAsianparent Philippines.
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