My son’s father and I do not always see eye-to-eye on parenting. He says I’m overprotective. I question his obvious lack of sense. He cannot simply read to the children or play Candyland. He must wrestle, play catch indoors, feed them cake for breakfast, and cart them around town with uncombed hair and seasonally-inappropriate, mismatched, backwards clothes.
Okay, a mother’s role in the family is well known. She nurtures and protects.
But what exactly is Dad’s purpose, aside from sustaining the Garanimals and Band-Aids market?
Well, I did a bit of research, and surprisingly Dear Old Dad plays a crucial role in the family despite his many failings. According to child development experts, a father’s brand of rough, unpredictable, physical play is healthy. The transition between real and pretend teaches children to identify boundaries, curb aggression and control their emotions. Some researchers even believe that these acquired control mechanisms can decrease aggressive behavior and eliminate violent tendencies in young children. Furthermore, because fathers allow their kids more freedom to explore and are less likely than mothers to “race to the rescue” at the first sign of trouble, children learn to cope with frustration, solve problems, assess risks and become more self-reliant.
In conclusion, a father’s role is important, although far less demanding than a mother’s. Fathers are required only to love, support and accept their children, set high but reasonable standards, and encourage ambition, perseverance and empathy. If he successfully accomplishes this, his children will likely develop into confident, assertive and independent adults – no matter how many Choco-Sugar Tarts they ate for breakfast or how often they wore the snowman sweater in July.
So, the next time Dad allows the kids to perform extreme coffee-table jumps, wear flip-flops with socks in the middle of December or pee on the electric fence because he thinks it’s a “valuable lesson,” we moms must remember – he’s supposed to be an idiot. It’s part of his role, it’s normal, and it’s healthy. The experts all say so. Therefore, support him by backing off and letting Dad be Dad… at least until the sugar-high has abated. Oh, and you may want to keep the medical insurance card ready just in case.