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It’s pretty obvious that every child needs a father. Participatory fatherhood is good for kids, families, and fathers themselves. Men today ARE spending more time with their children and more time helping around the house.
And even more significant than the time spent with the children is the concern that men today have for their children and their desire to be ACTIVE PARENTS.
Some fathers suffer from what I call “baby illiteracy” but this is easily remedied when fathers read about babies, participate in childbirth classes, attend the birth, share in the care of the baby from the very beginning, and serve as an active member of the parenting team.
WHAT FATHERS PROVIDE
For starters, fathers provide half of the child’s genetic material. They also provide a second pair of hands, monetary resources, a role model of an adult male, and the teaching of specific skills. And Dad is another source of unconditional love so essential to every child.
We have all heard the expression, “It takes a village to raise a child.” In traditional societies the extended family takes part in child-rearing.
Most of us don’t have an extended family handy so all the parenting tasks fall to Mommy and Daddy of the nuclear family. It’s pretty obvious that a mother employed outside the home needs help with child-rearing. But even if the mother stays at home and is fully capable of providing all the child-rearing the baby needs, fathers should help care for the children.
Children need to learn how to react to different people. The ideal situation in infancy is having two primary caretakers, a mother and a father.
Many people describe their own father as a distant figure, a person hard to get close to. But today’s father has been liberated from the stereotype of the cold, impersonal, unemotional man. Men are not afraid or ashamed to experience emotional closeness to their child.
Thus today’s father provides both boy and girl children with a role model of the NURTURING MAN.
A FATHER’S TASKS
1) MOTHER YOUR CHILD’S MOTHER. When you provide nurturance and support for the mother you help her to mother well. She needs your support during pregnancy to help her deal with her changing body and feelings. She needs your help and support to recover from the birth. She needs your help in parenting.
2) SHARE in the most important part of parenting: SOCIALIZING the baby. This means discussing how to discipline the child, learning how to deal with your own feelings about how you were disciplined as a child, learning how to communicate with both spouse and child, and striving for consistency.
3) SPEND TIME ALONE with your toddler or child. Play. Go for walks. Hang out together. Read to the child.
4) BE A ROLE MODEL to your sons. Your son will learn how to be a man from being with and dealing with you. And remember children will be apt to do what you do, not necessarily what you tell them to do.
5) SPEND TIME WITH YOUR DAUGHTER. Don’t ignore or avoid her because she is a girl. Girls need their fathers as much as boys do. Children of both genders must learn what to expect and how to deal with adults of both genders. And don’t sex-stereotype. Teach both your son and daughter how to use a hammer and nails.
6) TEACH your child what you know how to do and what you love to do whether it be sports, music, back-packing, or chess.
7) HELP AROUND THE HOUSE. Motherhood is a full-time job. If you sit around while your wife does the house work you give a terrible message to your kids that mothers and their work are not valued.
8) ENJOY YOUR CHILDREN. Look on the time you spend caring for your children as a privilege rather than a chore. There will be times when your infant spits up on your new sweater or your toddler throws an awful tantrum in public. But there will also be blissful moments when your infant curls its hand around your finger or you overhear your child describe you as the “best Daddy in the world!”
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