Mothers have a fair place in the sun when it comes to bonding with kids but sometimes dads don’t seem get enough airtime when it comes to parenting goals. Or if they do, it’s for the wrong reasons. So much so that some daddies get praised for doing the simplest things like diaper changing, feeding, carrying their child in a baby carrier and generally, um, regular parenting.
At Hegen, we believe that dads play a role just as important as Mums, and it’s important to normalise that – not just to give due recognition to fathers but to acknowledge that parenting is very much a role that is equally shared. In fact, as much as mummies might have very specific roles in raising children like breastfeeding, daddies also contribute specifically to the health and success of their kids in many ways.
In celebration of Father’s Day, here are five reasons dads are superheroes in our eyes.
Dad’s oxytocin rush boosts bonding and helps with postpartum issues
We often hear of mums getting pumped up with the “love” hormone Oxytocin triggered at birth, upon skin to skin contact with baby and while breastfeeding. But what about for dads? Apparently, they also do get this same Oxytocin “rush” when they’re spending time with their offspring! Known as stimulatory parenting, acts like tossing baby in the air (gently!), coaxing Junior to sit up or playing pretend with their little one all serve to generate higher Oxytocin levels. This in turn creates not just a stronger connection between father and child but is also a great help if mum is battling post-natal depression. Research suggests that hormone levels in sets of parents are directly related and fluctuations are found to coincide. So dad’s involvement can help keep mum’s Oxytocin levels high when she needs it most.
A close relationship with Dad makes baby smarter
While IQ testing babies is largely controversial (and parental anxiety about their child’s intelligence leads to negative consequences), a study by an Imperial College London professor shows that a dad who is tight with his kid impacts his cognitive development positively. This study looked at how 128 fathers interacted with their three month old babies and followed them up to age two. The children were then given a standard mental development index (MDI) test, which showed evidence that children whose fathers spent more quality time with them produced better scores. In another study, school aged children with involved fathers have higher grade point averages and a father’s academic support was positively related to adolescent boys’ motivation to try hard in school.
Playing with dad impacts social and emotional development
What better way for kids to have fun with dad than to run around, get hyper and roughhouse! These scenarios might seem like a cliché, but playtime with dad is more than just about having fun. Stimulating play helps children manage aggressive impulses and physical contact without losing control of their emotions. While mummies tend to be more nurturing, dads tend to promote independence and achievements. Both are equally important; thus striking a balance between the two areas would help to positively impact a child’s emotional well-being.
Involved dads raise more successful kids
If you got through the above three reasons, it’s a no-brainer that children with a hands-on daddy and a loving, nurturing mummy have better odds when it comes to having success in future. To that extent, agencies that deal in families at-risk make father involvement one of their top priorities in family intervention rather than just to have the father be present at home or provide economically.
Daddies who are present, promote a future generation of gender equality
To reiterate our main point, daddies are the real superheroes to their wife and children – and it is vital for them to be that way as they set the tone for the behavior and mindset of future generations. Not only are involved fathers model parents, they inspire daughters to have higher career aspirations and sons to be more likely to practice gender equality in their own relationships as well.
Last but not least (and often overlooked), the greatest beneficiary of involved dads are the dads themselves! They benefit from meaningful relationships with their family and live happier, healthier lives with higher productivity and fewer mental and physical health problems. So, from us to all the Super Daddies around the world, have a happy healthy Father’s Day!
Photo: Pexels/Katie E