by Jay and Tammy Daughtry of CoParenting International
Today, more than ever, moms and dads are sharing children between two households, creating a co-parenting relationship that supports children shared apart. Children need many things from their parents, and if we break those down into basic general categories, we can get a good look at the powerful impact created by a child’s dad, especially when he is co-parenting.
Dads Protect and Guide
When we think of basic physical needs of food, shelter, and safety, we can see that a dad is someone who provides and protects. If our children don’t have the food, clothing, and place to live, then most of the other things we’ll explore don’t seem as important. Dads’ contribution to his children’s financial stability impacts their well-being.
Providing for their child(ren) is an important part of being a dad and creates a sense of security for children.
A more subtle part of that protection is offering guidance. Dads have a responsibility to teach their children what it means to be a thoughtful individual. Fathers show their children how to care for themselves and others. This requires ongoing supervision and consistent interaction. This also includes the support of the child’s mother – if she is respectful and supportive of the child’s father and his role in their shared children’s lives, then the children can grow up with the freedom to love both of their families and not feel torn between them.
Dads Show Up
How dads show up and interact is important. Although dads fit well into the enforcer role, they need to lean into their nurturing role as well. Yes, fathers need to offer their kids care and comfort. Hugging, holding, rocking, and patting are all a part of caring for your child – from diapers to baths, to tickles and bedtime stories – every moment helps your son or daughter grow into a healthy, loving person.
That points us to another crucial human need: interaction. When dads interact with their children on a regular basis they touch on their social and emotional needs. Children are learning communication skills, social norms, and a host of values that are present in their culture, including religious and spiritual worldviews, while spending time with their parents.
They need their dad to talk to them, play with them, and make them a part of their world on a regular basis.
Parents are a child’s first relationships, and kids need the warm loving presence of another person in their lives. Smiles, kisses, and encouraging words are powerful tools in the hands of a father. A dad’s reassurance during difficult or painful experiences can bring a deep sense of well-being despite the hurt a child is going through. Genuine affection soothes the sting of life’s harsher realities.
Part of our parental reassurance comes in the form of commitment. For dads, commitment is more than determination to reach for the ideal of fatherhood, it also involves openly expressing our intent to never leave our child feeling alone and never abandon or disrespect our child’s mother. Though it might be a strained situation or even a harsh situation, when a father can be a strong, positive role model and show support and respect to the child’s mother, then that brings deep security and stabilization to their shared children.
In return, moms can make a powerful impact in their children’s lives by giving their kids their “emotional permission” to like and love their dad.
When Mom supports the father, then the child can relax and enjoy that direct relationship without the worry of upsetting their mother.
Dads Communicate Value
We’ve heard it said before, “Everybody needs to be somebody’s number one.”
When children know that they are important to someone, especially their dad, it gives them a sense of intrinsic value.
Even when parents are co-parenting apart, their child can have healthy self-esteem that shows up as strength of character, bravery, and a deep sense of security that allows them to face the world with confidence that they borrow from their dad until they grow up and raise their own. Well, there we have it. Being a dad means giving your children what they need physically, emotionally, and spiritually in a way that lets them know they are important to not only someone but to one of the most significant people they will ever know. Whether you’re able to be there full-time, half the time, or only a few weekends a month, Dad, you matter. You make a huge difference; we hope you’re able to see that and recognize all the things you’re doing right as you find new ways to define yourself as “Dad.” We celebrate you, not just in June, but 365 days a year!
Jay and Tammy Daughtry are based in Nashville, TN and are deeply committed to cheering for single parents and stepparents, as well as grandparents!! They are launching a new digital resource this fall called Unplanned Grandparenting. See more at www.CoparentingInternational.com.
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