Family Ministry

advice, thoughts, and discussion

Dads are important

on January 27, 2013

Fathers parent differently.

It’s crazy that, while planning for weekend services and parents’ resources for their kids, we always seem to have mom in mind. The moms at our church tend to be the ones that will make sure they get their parent cue, God Time Cards, and other weekly resources for our kids. They’re most likely to like us on Facebook, follow us on twitter, and read our blog. Honestly, this can get frustrating to me sometimes. I actually thought last week; “why don’t our dads seem more involved?” And then it hit me. Just because our dads don’t do everything that our moms do in terms of following our social media or making sure they grab their tangible teaching resource for the week, doesn’t mean that they’re not involved or that they’re not being great dads. (in most cases that is) So, I thought I’d write this blog, with the help of our focus on the family resource to show the great things that dads do for their kids!

Dads have a distinct style of communication and interaction with children. By eight weeks of age, infants can tell the difference between their mother’s and father’s interaction with them.This diversity provides kids with a broader, richer experience of contrasting relational interactions. Whether they realize it or not, children are learning, by sheer experience, that men and women are different and have different ways of dealing with life, other adults and children. This understanding is critical for their development.

Fathers play differently.

Dads play catch, run around the yard, tickle more, they wrestle, and they throw their children in the air. Fathers chase their children, sometimes as playful, scary “monsters.”

Fathering expert John Snarey explains that children who roughhouse with their fathers learn that biting, kicking and other forms of physical violence are not acceptable. They learn self-control by being told when “enough is enough” and when to settle down. Girls and boys both learn a healthy balance between timidity and aggression. (So moms, all that rough-housing isn’t Always a bad thing!)

Fathers build confidence.

Go to any playground and listen to the parents. Who is encouraging kids to swing or climb just a little higher, ride their bike just a little faster, throw just a little harder? Dads. They push their kids a little farther and encourage them to try just a little harder.

Now, this could be unhealthy…it can tend toward encouraging risk without consideration of consequences. But, as long as dads are making sure kids know not to act or react beyond their limit, and remind kids to be careful, sometimes as well…this is a huge benefit to kids.

Fathers communicate differently.

“A major study showed that when speaking to children, mothers and fathers are different. Mothers will simplify their words and speak on the child’s level. Men are not as inclined to modify their language for the child. The mother’s way facilitates immediate communication; the father’s way challenges the child to expand her vocabulary and linguistic skills — an important building block of academic success.” I remember my dad always asking me to speak like a person, not like an animal or a baby. He always praised me when others took notice of how “grown-up” or respectful I acted. I think this is a huge thing! If your kids aren’t praised for their appropriate behavior and language (and disciplined for their inappropriate behavior and actions) they won’t respond to authority or be able to act properly in a situation that they would be expected to do such. (an important dinner, during holiday celebrations, or in public places)

Fathers discipline differently.

“Educational psychologist Carol Gilligan tells us that fathers stress justice, fairness and duty (based on rules), while mothers stress sympathy, care and help (based on relationships). Fathers tend to observe and enforce rules systematically and sternly, teaching children the consequences of right and wrong. Mothers tend toward grace and sympathy, providing a sense of hopefulness. Again, either of these disciplinary approaches by themselves is not good, but together, they create a healthy, proper balance.” Discipline is SO important! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen kids who come from really good families, but they don’t respect authority. Then I notice parents constantly warning kids and never following through with disciple, or telling kids that hat they’re doing is wrong and not explaining how their behavior affects others.

Fathers prepare kids for the real world.

Involved dads help their children see that attitudes and behaviors have consequences. For instance, telling their children that if they are not nice to others, kids will not want to play with them. Or, if they don’t do well in school, they will not get into a good college or secure a desirable job. Fathers help children prepare for the reality and harshness of the world.

Fathers provide a look at the world of men.

Men and women are different. They eat differently. They dress differently. They cope with life differently.

Girls with involved fathers are more likely to have healthier relationships with the opposite sex because they learn from their fathers how proper men act toward women. They know which behaviors are inappropriate.

Boys who grow up with dads are less likely to be violent. They have their masculinity affirmed and learn from their fathers how to channel their masculinity and strength in positive ways.  “Fathers are far more than just ‘second adults’ in the home. Involved fathers — especially biological fathers — bring positive benefits to their children that no other person is as likely to bring.”

Now, obviously everything that a dad can do should be done in balance, just like moms should balance their parenting skills. Dads who are too harsh can ruin their child’s self-confidence and dads that push too hard will make their kids hate them. Obviously, use your judgement. And if you’re scared to become involved in your child’s life or are unsure how to, consult a family counselor and be open with your kids. Always let them know you love them and support them. Don’t ever feel like you’re a second-rate parent or that you need to take a back seat role to your wife. You play such a vital role in your kids’ lives! Be there for them and help train them up to be strong and Godly adults!

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