Daddy's Child: Modern Fathers Take More Active Roles in Parenting
Posted by Maria on 7/2/2014

Dads of today are a new breed from fathers of generations ago. Men are no longer expected to 'wear the pants,' and the increasing liberties and opportunities that women enjoy inside and outside their homes open up household tasks for fathers to take over that it's more becoming of a necessity for fathers to wear the apron, too.

Because of increasing permeability between gender roles, fathers are becoming more involved in child-raising than before, and the plethora of products geared for child-rearing allows for more involvement of both parents, making it easier for him to bond with the baby by taking care of the child and giving mom the time she needs to recover after giving birth or go back to work as necessary. If mom needed to preside over a conference and she happens to breastfeed, all she needed to do is to take out the breast pump, fill several bottles with milk, keep them refrigerated (they keep for up to 24 hours), and leave all the bottle-feeding to dad while she conquers the world.

Whether living in the same house as his child or not, a father has a lot of opportunity to get involved. There are plenty of tools at his disposal so he can transport the baby comfortably and safely to where he lives and then back to mom's house again. Car seats, strollers, slings, carriers, harnesses and portable cribs all make it easy for him to travel with a child. Of course, he needs to have a well-stocked diaper bag to perform his fatherly duties with as little mess as possible, and his lack of lactational glands does not preclude him from ‘breastfeeding’ the baby. As mentioned, mom can always pump out her excess milk and make this available to dad for his turn to feed the baby.

At the back of our collective minds, we know that involvement of both parents in raising children is ideal, but it's only now that after tomes of research have been carried that we know for sure how a father’s contribution to parenting can be invaluable. For example, his active role in fatherhood leads to better linguistic skills and less behavioral problems among kids. (Curiously, male involvement need not be that of the biological father's: any adult male in the household will do.)

His parenting style is also altogether different from a mother’s, allowing the child to create a distinction between two parents. These diverse parenting styles also lead to children forming stronger cognitive and social skills as each parenting input creates new neural connections in the child's developing brains. This perhaps explains why children with more adult male involvement in their lives perform better in schools than children with absent fathers (or father figures).

So the next time dad takes the child out for a walk in the woods with a toddler or a jogging-stroll with the baby, remember that emotional bonds are not the only things forged with these moments.

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