Supportive Parenting: How Nurturing Fathers Positively Impact Child Development

supportive parenting father and child

Supportive parenting has a big impact on your child’s emotional regulation skills. A recent literature review found that fathers who are involved in caregiving and play, and who react with warmth and sensitivity to their child’s emotions, are more likely to have children with better emotional balance from infancy to adolescence.

These skills are linked to higher levels of social competence, peer relationships, academic achievement, and resilience. On the other hand, poor emotional regulation skills are linked to anxiety, depression, and behavioral problems.

Boys, in particular, can benefit from a father’s emotional involvement. Our culture often tells men that softer emotions are weak, so dads may need to give their sons explicit “permission to feel.” 

If you didn’t have a warm male role model growing up, you may lack confidence in your own abilities to be a sensitive caregiver. But don’t let that hold you back. It’s not enough to encourage your sons to share their inner worlds. You need to show them how it’s done.

Mothers can also play a role in supportive parenting by avoiding gatekeeping behavior. This means not obstructing your partner’s relationship with your child.

The Importance of Avoiding Gatekeeping Behaviors for Supportive Parenting.

Sometimes mothers engage in gatekeeping when they feel anxious and depressed, hold excessively high standards for parenting, or when fathers lack confidence. If you feel like parenting tasks aren’t being done to your standards, resist the urge to take care of them yourself or redo them after your partner has completed them. This can limit paternal involvement and add to the psychological load that falls on women.

We as a society need to break the idea that mothers are the primary caregivers and fathers are just helpers. This means challenging social factors like paid leave for mothers or the lack of it for fathers. But it also means actively pushing back against the myth that men are less capable of being sensitive than women. Learning how to be a warm, emotionally attentive parent involves on-the-job training and staying actively engaged until you start getting good at it.

Supportive Parenting Strategies: Carving Out Time, Emotional Openness, and Emotion Science.

During the pandemic, many fathers experienced strong intimacy with their children. As the world moves on from the pandemic, it takes more deliberate effort to carve out time for supportive parenting.

One place where fathers can take the lead is at the dinner table. By opening up about the best and worst parts of their own day, they can show that grown men also experience emotions such as joy, sadness, and frustration.

Finally, strive to become an “emotion scientist.” Show curiosity about your children’s feelings and teach them how to put those feelings into words. Instead of listening in order to solve a problem, practice active listening with empathy. With your supportive parenting, you can help your children build the emotional regulation skills they need to thrive.

DO’H! – A Final Thought

As a supportive parent, I know the value of being there for my child during their most vulnerable moments. Let’s continue to strive towards being the best parents we can be, and remember that being cool isn’t just about having the latest gadgets or being popular on social media, it’s about being there for our children in every way possible. So, are you ready to step up and be a supportive parent today?

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