When we talk about the role of the father, the traditional belief is that their primary role is to be the breadwinner for the household. However, as the common saying goes, it takes a village – or as we like to think of it: a team – to raise a child. Science has shown dads are meant to be more than just a secondary parent, with studies demonstrating the presence of an involved father has a great impact on early childhood development.
“The Father Effect” is an umbrella term used in research studies to refer to the positive effects of a paternal presence, or in simpler terms, an involved and engaged father.
However, how does science define what it means to be a father who is involved and engaged? In the context of fatherhood, being involved and engaged means they have two important attributes – present and caring.
“When we had Lucia, I always wanted to be there for all her firsts. No matter how busy life gets, I always make a conscious effort to make time for her – so we can learn and play together – because nothing is more important than seeing my girl grow up,” says JC Intal.
A present father does not necessarily mean one who is always in close proximity.
Sometimes, fathers live in a different household, are based in a different country, or are faced with other circumstances that cause them to be physically separated from his child.
Despite this, there are modern ways for fathers to remain engaged – using video calls, letters, and regular contact. When parents work together as a team, their efforts are amplified by each other’s individual strengths and they become more responsive, affectionate and involved with their children.
Aside from being present, fathers must also be involved – creating meaningful and impactful interactions with his child. Acts as simple as playing outside in the rain, or teaching his child how to swim or ride a bike can allow a father to improve his child’s sense of independence, curiosity and preparedness for the outside world. Fathers generally expose their children to experiences outside of a mother’s expertise, again demonstrating that fathers do not merely play a supporting role to the mother, and that taking a “dual parenting” approach can help shape a child’s growth and development .
As gender-based roles change, team parenting paves the way for well-rounded growth and development of children. As we have seen in Similac Gain School’s new campaign with Bianca and JC, parenting should not be a battle between mother versus father, or smart versus strong; there is always a way for both to work together.