I find there is a lot of social stigma of the parenting styles of Fathers. I have always felt that having the confidence to parent my child my way has always been criticised, I was told to leave it to the mother, mother knows best, fathers have no intuition, and fathers should focus on the financial aspects. There are truths to those myths but not entirely.
Yes fathers have the burden of finances; yes mothers have natural intuition due to their advanced physical bond with the baby before the father even sets eye on the child. But disregard half of the parenting unit has always been a ridicules concept for me. Fathers and mothers don’t parent the same way, and often they have extremely different approaches to what is appropriate, acceptable or even beneficial – but the balances and checks between the two is what gives balance to parenting. No one parent is correct, and the common assumption is that the natural protectiveness of mothers should supersede the father’s roughhousing is not in fact the best way to parent.
Reading “The Boy Crisis: Why Our Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do About It” by Warren Farrell PhD (Author), John Gray PhD (Author) has been a revelation. It reinforced what I felt all along that fatherhood is not only integral but crucial to parenting for both boys and girls. The book has a wealth of statistics of families with fathers and those without to make the case which I won’t go into. But highly recommend this book, even if you only have a daughter – fathers make a difference.
We are often inundated with images and social mockery of dad’s from Homer (who is a personal hero of mine) to sitcom dads as bumbling fools only to be advised and herded by the mother. This is not to take away anything from mothers and the unquestionable role they have, but fatherhood is due for some long time respect and as more fathers become involved (and expected to do so) the more weight needs to be put on their parenting style and decision making. Giving fathers the confidence to add their style of more freedom, picking their battles, having the child fail to succeed is a counter balance to the protective, nurturing and “mothering” of mothers. One without the other is a disaster waiting to happen. Fathers are often put down or made to watch their back in case mom sees them wrestling or roughhousing (by the way it is proven that rough play is not only beneficial for boys but girls too! – read the book).
So fathers, have confidence in your natural parenting intuition (within reason) and more importantly enjoy the process. Being involved is not just about money and providing, although they are crucial, but it’s about sharing a piece of you with your children