Father’s Day is round the corner and it’s the perfect time to celebrate the role father’s play in the lives of children. However, while playing the role of breadwinner and provider in their lives, fathers tend to take a backseat in the whole process of child rearing or learning, particularly in the Indian society. Depictions of dads in popular culture also push the stereotype of fathers as emotionally disconnected and not as hands on as mothers.Yet, the reality is that the active participation of both parents is absolutely essential for children to grow into well-rounded human beings.
Children look to their fathers to provide a feeling of security, both physical and emotional. If children are valued and loved by both parents, they are more likely to have higher self-esteem and are generally happier and more confident. Children with supportive fathers also demonstrate a greater tolerance for stress, less hesitation in new situations and an increased ability to resist peer pressure and stand up for themselves.
Many children may have benefited during the pandemic by getting to spend more time with their fathers thanks to the work from home schedules. However, a lot of this cannot be described as ‘quality time’, if there is mere presence in the home. Here are some ways in which fathers can spend more quality time with children to foster their bond:
1. Child Rearing : The simple actions of child rearing which range from bathing, feeding or even helping with homework help in creating a bond with the child. Most mothers would also echo this expectation from their husbands as they expect more involved co-parents. Yet fathers need to pitch not only for sharing the responsibility of child rearing, but also to enjoy meaningful conversation with their children and build a better bond with them. Children appreciate the small things that adults do for them.
2. Use your own hobbies to engage with children: Many times, work stress and fatigue can hamper your ability to make a special effort to spend time with children. Instead, focus on ways to get them to spend time with you, in activities you both may enjoy. Is there a hobby you are passionate about? It could be photography, gardening or cooking. You can always engage with your child while pursuing your hobby. Sharing a passion and hobby makes both parent and child look forward to the time spent on it together. Your children will feel that they know you more intimately and that they have something that the two of you can share for the rest of your lives.
If you like to spend time outdoors, hiking, trekking, cycling or playing football, then take out time to do something similar with your child, depending on his/her age group. Bonding over nature and physical activity is also a great way to have some wonderful moments together. If travel is a passion, you can take your child to places and build beautiful memories together. The Little Collector’s Passport, I have designed as part of my early learning venture, helps kids and parents to record such special memories.
3. Indulge in fun learning activities or book readings everyday: Fathers need to take time out from their busy schedules to spend time with their children everyday. This cannot be viewed as a once in a while or weekend activity. It could range from reading together, playing chess with each other, building something together, or even playing games. The important point to note here is that it needs to be something you both can do together every day, working day or weekend. Even spending as little as 30-45 minutes everyday can go a long way to deepen your connection.
The books and activity games I have designed, not just involve mothers but fathers too in spending many little moments of joy learning and unlearning together with their children. My book, City of Stars, for example, is written in a conversational style between a child and his parents, which both moms and dads can enjoy reading with their kids. Likewise, while playing the Apple Food Menu - a fun habit changing game with their kids, not just moms, but also dads become mindful of their eating habits and enjoy having meaningful health related conversations with their children.
It is not just rewarding for children to get attention from fathers. Fathers benefit from spending time with their kids as well. The connections formed with children at an early age, helps maintain this deep parent-child bond across the years, even when they become adults.
Author - Ekta Ohri
Banner Image: Litjoys#fatherslove