Most evenings I take S to the playground by our house. Its amazing to watch him learn how to climb the steps up to the slide, the joy on his face when he slides down, his laugh when hes on the swings. Last week I noticed a dad there with his son and a few of his sons friends. I could hear him encouraging them to run, “racing”against them, playing tag and even getting his son to do some “pull ups” which left the little boy very proud of his “biceps”. It was so nice to see the interaction between father and son. The little boy even came up to S and tried to play with him. The father stood back and allowed him to interact with S who is much younger, just telling him to be careful.
I think when something is out of the norm, you notice it more. This is def. not a common scenario in HK playgrounds. 90% of the time it is the children and their helpers so this really surprised me (in a good way!). Three days later I saw the little boy with his mother and it was a totally different experience.
Research has shown the way fathers and mothers react to their children and interact with them teach them very different things. When a child hurts themselves, a father will tend to take them out of the area and distract them while a mother will tend to console them or say ït’s alright, show mummy where it hurts”. The fathers approach builds the resilience children need in life.
When a child is frustrated because they can’t figure out a puzzle for example, a father will avoid intervening encouraging a child to stick with it while a mother may quietly rearrange the peices so the child can put it together more easily. The mothers approach can help develop self confidence while the fathers approach helps a child to think independently.
I recently read an article in the wall street journal that described these differences in more detail, you can read it here.
Growing up there were def. some things that only my dad taught us – riding a mountain bike, playing football, swimming and diving off a board. He raised us to be fearless and believe we could do anything we put our minds to.
So what do you think? Was your dad hands on, did you notice differences in your parents parenting style?
*Disclaimer – This is a generalisation ofcourse. I’ve seen many parents play the opposite roles where the father intervenes too much and the mother allows the child to explore. Or in some cases, one of the parents doesn’t play a role at all and single parents play both the mother and father role. Either way, giving your child a rounded upbringing and putting their interests first is what matters most.