Fathers are not all alike. Play for one father may involve following the child's lead during a game. For another, it might be introducing a new challenge. For many, rough and tumble play is an important activity in their interactions with their children. Valuing the passion each father has for his child and respecting his competence is essential to building a relationship with him. Noticing and appreciating each father's approach is a chance to show respect for his relationship with his child.
You can say: I noticed that each time Andrew picks up a block, you tell him the color.
Father: Yes, I want him to learn his colors.
Fathers are nurturers. Both men and women nurture children, in the same and in different ways. Yet fathers' nurturing roles are not always recognized or accepted. As a result, some fathers may be uncertain about their critical importance to their children's development. You can help change these patterns by having strengths-based conversations with fathers. Try using the child's behavior as a common point of interest.
- Example: You notice a father picks up his infant daughter because she is crying. He talks to her softly and rocks her gently. The infant stops crying while continuing to listen to her father.
You can say: I noticed that as soon as you started to talk to Alexis softly, she stopped crying and focused on your voice.
This is an opportunity to reinforce how much his role as a parent means to his daughter now and in the future.
You might say: I can see how close you are. You already know how to calm her down. Isn't it amazing that she is already learning from you every day about relationships and emotions?
Fathers know they are being judged. Everyone who cares for a child (e.g., parents, grandparents, significant others, teachers) has strong beliefs about how children should be raised and nurtured. Many of these beliefs are grounded in culture and experience and have been passed down through generations. Show the father he is the expert on his child by putting aside your own beliefs and learning more about his. When he asks for ideas or assistance, responding respectfully can strengthen your relationship with him and reinforce his role as one of the most important people in his child's life.
Father: Chase seems to be doing really well with his toilet training in school, but I'm not having much luck with him at home. What am I doing wrong?
You might say: I don't think we should assume you are doing anything wrong. Why don't you walk me through what you are doing at home? We can compare notes and make a plan for school and home.
National Centers:Parent, Family and Community Engagement
Last Updated: December 3, 2019