Parenting as a dad - busting the myths and some tips

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Image: 123RF/HONGQI ZHANG

There have been many misconceptions about how men should parent. Indeed, there have been people who have said that it is not the job of the man to parent. This of course has been proven wrong. 

What new practices for fathers should all male parents know about? Once again Shu-aib Salie, a fatherhood co-ordinator and facilitator at The Parent Centre, answers.  

Tips on how fathers can be good carers for their children (These are taught in the Fatherhood Sessions,by the Parent Centre, to encourage men to embrace their role as carers).

Salie says that it is important for men to take care of their children, and that they should not underestimate their ability as men to take the caregiver role.

He provided examples of  how men can be carers for their children at different stages:

Father’s role in breastfeeding;

• Fathers can help with shielding negative comments from friends and relatives.• Fathers can help calm a baby.• Fathers can support the mother during breastfeeding by rubbing the mother’s back and also making sure she sits comfortably.• Once the baby has nursed his fill after breastfeeding, dad can take over and burp the baby.

Father’s role in caring for babies;

• Change nappies• Bath and massage babies• Bottle feed and burp babies• Take babies for walks• Read to and sing to babies• Take turns seeing to baby when they awake during the night or when they are ill• Play with and speak to them.

Father’s role in caring for young children;

• Prepare lunches• Assist with homework• Attend school meetings• Attend or show interest in extra murals• Teach them to tie their laces, button their shirts and dress themselves.• Comfort them when they cry• Engage in fantasy play with them• Role model kindness, respect and empathy

Father’s role in caring for teenagers;

• Create moments to engage in conversation. Even working quietly alongside them creates closeness• Prepare meals together• Work on chores together• Take an interest and support them in their schooling• Get to know their friends. Invite them over.• Attend or show interest in extra murals• Set limits, it’s part of caring• Get to know what they are in to even if you do not like or approve of it (for example music, trends, technology)• Allow the expression of their individuality and feelings.• Role model values.

Below are some action ideas and tips for fathers;

ACTION IDEAS

• Set a goal to be a great dad

• Hug your child daily

• Tell them you love them

• Get to know your kids

• Set a game plan to spend time together

• Have a meal or supper together as often as possible

• Place an encouraging note in your child’s workbook of their hardest subject

• Praise your child in front of their friends

• Read a short story or book tonight

• Don’t shy away from your teenage daughter; give her continued signs of affection

• Tell your child a special quality you see in them

• Ask your children what they would like to do, then set a date to do it together

• At dinner tell your child the quality you appreciate in them

TIPS FOR DADS

*Cherish your time with them. Quality time

*Don’t look at anything as “mom” duties — share responsibilities. Some men still look at certain duties as “mom” duties, but don’t be one of those dads. Get involved in everything, and share the load with your baby’ mother. Changing nappies, giving baths, getting them dressed, even feeding them

*Love conquers all. Show your children love.

*Kids like making decisions. Teach your child to make decisions, and they will grow up much more capable — and happier.

A little patience goes a long way. Allowing yourself to react in anger or frustration is not the best thing for your child, and you must remember that. That means you need to take a deep breath, or a walk, when you start to lose your patience. Practice patience with your child and your relationship, and your child will benefit over the long run.

*Sense of humour required.

*Read to them, often.

*Don’t be the absent dad.

*Let them play. Kids really develop through playing — and while it might seem obvious, you should allow them as much free play as possible.

*Spark their imagination.

*Limit TV and video games.

*Model good behaviour.

*Treat their mother with respect, always.

*Let them be themselves.

*Teach them independence.

*Stand together with mom 

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