The social, cultural and family transformations that have been occurring in recent decades have had a great impact on the role of the father figure. The condition of “father” has evolved from the role of disciplinarian, who was little involved affectively in the upbringing of children, to a person who is equally responsible for all the stages of the child’s upbringing and development together with the mother.
With so many fathers more interested in participating actively in their children’s lives from the very first months, we decided to explain the benefits of this relationship not only for the children, but also for the man himself, the family and society.
The benefits of fatherhood in men’s lives
According to research conducted by the American National Academy of Sciences, men who become fathers tend to become less aggressive and stressed and more sensitive and prepared for moments of emotional stress.
Another study, done by the Academy of Management Perspectives, concluded that there is a greater possibility of increased job satisfaction when fathers are more involved in raising children, as this strengthens the work-family relationship and decreases the likelihood of thinking of quitting their jobs.
In addition, fatherhood brings several benefits for men’s health. According to researcher Marcus Goldman, author of “The Joy of Fatherhood“, when fathers truly realize they have the responsibility of caring for another person, they start paying attention to what they eat and their lifestyle. “Not only does it inspire men to take better care of themselves physically, but it also completes them with a purpose that enhances their psychological well-being,” Goldman writes.
Creating a bond from pregnancy
Unlike what happens with mothers, who connect affectively with the child from the first months of pregnancy, and even more so during the breastfeeding phase, when feelings of security and love are reinforced, men usually cannot establish this connection immediately.
Whether by lack of example during their own childhood, trauma, or even difficulty in establishing emotional connections, some men do not get very involved with their partner’s pregnancy, making it difficult to create an emotional bond with the baby. The first step to change this is to reflect on the upbringing you have had and the kind of father you want to be to your child.
The best way to facilitate this bonding is to get more involved in the pregnancy events, such as routine exams, preparing the room, buying the necessary items for the baby’s initial care, support group meetings, and even preparatory courses for childbirth. If, even so, there are difficulties, try to talk to your partner and, in some cases, seek professional help may also be a way out to overcome the emotional barriers and enjoy your child without fear, from the first months of development.
The importance of physical contact
Many parents were raised by distant father figures, who didn’t give affection or limit any physical demonstration of affection to a minimum. There are no rules for this kind of thing, but some good practices can help men overcome emotional barriers and let themselves be taken over by all the love for the baby. The first of these is to stay close to him and give him a lap whenever he asks for one. Contrary to what many people think, lapping does not “spoil” the child and is one of the simplest and most genuine ways to connect with your child and pass on security and affection to him.
You must play, kiss, hold and do whatever you feel you need to do to show affection, without fear of being happy. Bath time is also a great time to strengthen the bond with the baby through skin-to-skin contact, in case of a bath in the shower, and through typical bath time games.
Another important moment is bedtime: telling a story, talking about how the day went is a very valuable moment of closeness that the child and the father will remember forever
It’s important to emphasize that as the child grows and stops being a baby, it’s easier for the father to interact with him in a more autonomous way and, for this reason, the father can (and should!) use this opportunity to strengthen even more his bonds with the older child. All human beings have a need to be touched, to have skin-to-skin contact. So who better than a father (or mother, of course) to meet these needs?
But what if the biological father is not present?
The phrase “father is the one who raises” has never been more correct. When we talk about the importance of the affective bond of the father figure, we are not limiting this only to the biological father x son relationship. We are talking about the representation of the male figure. The paternal, male function can be performed by anyone, be it a grandfather, uncle, brother, godfather or even a close family friend.
When there is an absence of a male figure in the lives of children, both boys and girls tend to be more closed and fearful, a fact that is reflected not only in childhood, but also in adolescence and adulthood.
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