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Posts Tagged ‘Fathers’

Celebrating Moms, Dads, Grandparents and All Who Raise Children! – Lee Scott

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Lee Scott, Chair of The Goddard School’s Education Advisory Board and early education programming expert talks about celebrating Moms, Dads, Grandparents and All Who Raise Children!

It is spring and a great time to celebrate all those who parent children, whether they be moms, dads, stepparents, aunts, uncles, grandparents or others.

Families today come in all forms. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 report, the majority of America’s children live in families with two parents (69 percent). The report does not distinguish parent types such as biological parents, same-sex parents, or stepparents. Single parents comprise 23 percent of households with children followed by those headed by grandparents, other relatives, or foster parents.

Children learn about Mother’s and Father’s Day celebrations through their school, television programs and advertisements, and/or friends. It may be confusing or awkward for some children if their parents are not the stereotypical mom and dad. We can support these celebrations by broadening our appreciation for all parents. We then shift the focus of the celebration to parenting and not on the type of parent.

There are many fun ways to celebrate these special days. Try the classic homemade card expressing appreciation for the parents or a special breakfast prepared by the children. These gifts still work today as they did in the early 1900s when the days became official. Neither has to be elaborate. The fun is watching the children make and share their creations.

Another wonderful way to share appreciation for parents is through storytelling. Spend time as a family sharing stories of the past and present, which provide children with a sense of belonging and connecting to family and the world around them. You can also read books about parents and families. Here are five of my favorites that celebrate all parents:

  1. Oh My Baby, Little One, Kathi Appelt and Jane Dyer

A mother’s love is carried throughout a young child’s day, ending with the celebration of being together again. The story helps children and parents with separation anxiety.

  1. Who’s in My Family?: All About Our Families, Robie H. Harris and Nadine Bernard Westcott

A trip to the zoo helps two children learn about all types of families. They explore not only the animals but also all the families visiting the zoo.

  1. Mommy, Mama, and Me, Leslea Newman and Carol Thompson

This book is fun because it goes through daily routines in a playful, rhyming manner. Great for young ones! There is also one titled Daddy, Papa, and Me.

  1. The Family Book, Todd Parr

The book focuses on how families, although often very different, are alike in love and caring for each other. This is my go-to book for beginning conversations about families, and I love the fun illustrations.

  1. Molly’s Family, Nancy Garden and Sharon Wooding

A young girl learns how to talk about her two-mom family in school. At first it is difficult, but her teacher helps along the way. Very helpful for giving children ways to answer the question: why do you have two mommies (or daddies)?

 

No matter what type of family you have, you can celebrate who you are on these special spring days.

Diving into Dad Duties: Five Tips For New Dads

Fatherhood is a profound, wonderful journey full of moments that you will cherish for a lifetime. Here are five tips for dads who are new to the experience.

  1. Master the art of diapering. Diapering is part of Fatherhood 101. Changing a diaper is a simple Get%20Set%20Girl%20and%20Father_jpgway to help keep your baby happy while bonding with your baby.
  2. Work as a team to handle baby duties. You and your spouse are a team, so try to share all the responsibilities. Make sure to help out when your partner is tired or busy.
  3. Communicate, communicate, communicate. When you’re part of a team, communication is key. If you’re going to be late coming home from work, call your partner. If you’re not sure how to handle a baby-related task, ask someone. Opening the lines of communication can work wonders.
  4. Be patient. Fatherhood isn’t an exact science, so remember that becoming the best dad you can be takes time. Enjoy those moments when you’re still figuring things out and remember to laugh.
  5. Take care of yourself. Being a good dad means being there for your child. Make sure you are staying healthy and avoiding unnecessary risks. Exercise, watch your diet and drive carefully.

Beyond the Tie: Celebrating Father’s Day

Tired of the traditional breakfast in bed? Over the cliché shirt and tie combo? Make Dad’s Day a little more rad.

  • Have a picnic, take a walk or just relax outdoors—let Dad choose how he would most enjoy relaxing with the family.
  • Plan a day of not planning. Make today the day to put aside all errands, chores and projects—help Dad to enjoy a pressure-free day.
  • Father’s Day is not only for your children to celebrate Dad—let him know just how impressed you are with how amazing a father he is to your children.
  • Give Dad the gift of a few hours by himself! We all need time to ourselves to refocus now and then. Dad may be thrilled to schedule an unexpected tee time, or to curl up with that new bestseller he’s been eyeing up.
  • Don’t limit the father festivities to just your children’s dad; encourage your little ones to call their grandpas and other special male role models, too.
  • Most importantly, let Dad know how appreciated he is. Help your children to write (or color) a thank you note, encourage them to create a special song or lend them a hand in whipping up a special treat. Homemade gifts or projects can sometimes be the best at conveying your child’s love and appreciation for Dad.

Research Shows Fathers are More Involved Than Ever

One of the largest studies of its kind gauges top concerns and focuses on the 21st Century father

A comprehensive study sponsored by The Goddard School® for Early Childhood Development and conducted by BluePrint Research Group, shows that fathers are more involved in their children’s lives as decision-makers and caregivers than ever before.

The Goddard School, with the guidance of Dr. Kyle D. Pruett, advisor to The Goddard School and internationally known child psychiatrist and author, sponsored the research in order to learn more about the changing dynamics of the father/child relationship, the areas of concern for fathers and fathers’ involvement in their children’s lives.

“While there’s an abundance of research on mother/child relationships available, there is only a fraction highlighting the father/child relationship and fathers’ roles in the home,” Pruett said. “We felt it was imperative, given the changes in the family in recent generations to look into the importance of fathers in the lives of our nation’s children.  And we found some surprises.”

The findings, drawn from a survey of over 1,000 fathers across the United States, revealed a ‘top ten’ of areas in which fathers are most focused on their children’s welfare—notably regardless of income bracket, race or ethnicity. The list, in order of importance, includes:

  1. Providing basic needs (food, clothing, shelter)
  2. Providing and maintaining a safe home environment
  3. Giving financial support
  4. Ensuring children have a good education
  5. Teaching children to respect their mothers
  6. Providing healthcare
  7. Supporting their children’s mothers
  8. Telling their children they love them
  9. Understanding and relating to their to children’s problems
  10. Spending quality time with their children

“When Dr. Pruett approached us with the idea of conducting this type research on fathers, we immediately agreed because it aligns perfectly with our mission to understand the needs of both parents and children,” said Lisa Fisher, Director of Marketing, Goddard Systems, Inc (franchisor of The Goddard School). “We conduct ongoing research with parents (usually mothers) and children. Our research focus is to help us understand the role our schools play in families’ lives—relationships with teachers, curriculum development, environment and materials.  And then, about two years ago, we conducted our first qualitative research with fathers.  We saw a growing number of fathers who were involved in the ‘school decision’ and their children’s overall education plan; we knew we needed to be at the forefront of research about fathers.”

In addition to fathers providing good home lives and emotional support to their children, researchers also discovered that providing a good education for their child ranks most important for fathers in terms of being a role model, with three out of four fathers visiting a preschool before enrolling their child.

“Since we opened our doors, almost 25 years ago, the role of fathers in choosing a preschool for their children has changed—we’ve seen and heard this anecdotally from school owners and education directors,” adds Fisher. “While fathers have always been involved in our schools, the level of involvement seems to have shifted—and this is supported by the new research.  Today’s fathers want to learn more about their child’s program, experience the overall environment and to understand what their child will be learning—before they commit to enrollment.”

Pruett attributes the influx of a father’s involvement in the preschool enrollment process to their desire and need to feel that they are making a financially sound decision—a good investment into their child’s future.  “This is one of the largest U.S. studies of fathers and fathering values that cuts across income brackets, races and ethnicity in order to be complete and balanced,” said Pruett.

Pruett said the researchers surveyed fathers from diverse demographic groups to ensure the broadest possible understanding of how American fathers perceive their roles in their families and particularly their children’s lives.

Happy Father’s Day: Goodies for Daddy Snack!

This Father’s Day, surprise dad with his own special snack mix! With help from an adult, little ones can mix up their own special creation for dad using a combination of the snack items below (and anything else you think dad might like). Then, decorate a disposable food container with markers, paint and craft supplies to store dad’s special treat!

  • Nuts (peanuts, cashews, almonds, etc.)
  • Raisins
  • M&M’s®
  • Cheerios®
  • Chex® cereal
  • Small pretzels
  • Teddy Grahams®
  • Small cheese snack crackers
  • Goldfish® crackers

 

When complete, consider writing a little ingredients list for dad to attach to the package, such as: “Ingredients: peanuts (because I’m your peanut), raisins (because you’re so good at raisin’ me), Teddy Grahams (for a big bear hug) and M&M’s (because you’re so sweet).”

The Grown Up Life: Marriage and Parenting

Parental and marital burnout is a common fellow traveler at the end of the third parental year.  It should not be ignored, any more than a lump or a polyp.  And it is just as important that you fix it while it is still benign.

It seems to show up now because we finally let ourselves relax a bit, having gotten our kids talking, potty-trained (or at least started), loving and human enough to believe they will at least have a life.  But that’s when we often begin wondering about our own life, sometimes for the first time in years.

Research on family development shows that marital satisfaction can get perilously low early in the lives of kids because they seem to be such huge energy sinks.  Thoughts of “Are-we-having-fun-yet?” guiltily badger mothers and fathers, especially if they keep these thoughts to themselves.  If you are not enjoying parenting, it may mean that you are working too hard at it.  You may be allowing yourself no savor time because you are too busy whipping the process of development into a frenzy.  My father’s favorite relevant quote: “Trying to teach a pig to sing is just a waste of time.  It frustrates the farmer and really irritates the pig.”  Return to being a parent, not a driver, and let your child return to growing instead of balking.

As for the marriage or partnership that spawned this child, it, too, is usually nurtured by a heart-mind connection that requires periodic preventive and reparative maintenance.  The three-year or 36,000-mile (stairs, chasing, cruise & snooze, shopping) check-up is critical for long-term endurance, because if that machine isn’t purring along, the wheels are going to eventually come off, given the road conditions ahead.

Take time to be together and uncover who you are as adults with minds, opinions, ideas, hobbies, yearnings and dreams.  Date, overnight away, lunch, whatever.  Pay someone else to feed or entertain you for a change, to reverse the energy flow.  Replenishing affection between adults takes conscious effort.  Childcare involves so much touching, holding, carrying, bathing and comforting that adult affection can simply get crowded out of a relationship.  But the replenishment of that affectional and intellectual tie between the adults will be especially important in the years to come when the older school-age child wouldn’t get caught dead kissing a parent on the cheek, much less discuss the idea!

Bottom line: you’ll be fine.  Meanwhile, celebrate how far you’ve come together, and whom you have uniquely become together.  These have been golden years to savor and adore.  None of us would amount to anything without each other, and these early parenting years show better than any others.

Ask the Expert: Different Parenting Styles

My husband thinks I’m too protective of our six-year-old twins and I think he’s not careful enough.  How can I convince him to be more attentive?

One of the blessings for children with two parents is learning that life has more than one voice.  Fathers and mothers nurture, discipline, love and struggle with their children quite differently.  My own research has shown that dads tend to encourage more exploratory behavior, while moms play it closer to home.  These normal tendencies, though not absolute, are intriguing to children.  So enjoy the differences – don’t regret them.

Blended Families

A “blended family” is formed when one or both members of a couple have children from previous relationships and combine households.  They are becoming increasingly common and at least one-third of all children in the United States will become a part of a blended or step family before they reach age 18.

Blended families should consider the following to help navigate obstacles they may encounter while trying to raise responsible, thoughtful, cooperative children.

Emotional Extremes

Children thrive on consistency and routine so it’s not surprising that the change of becoming a part of a blended family may be very unsettling to them. It’s normal for children experiencing this type of transition to have intense feelings of anger; sadness, grief, disappointment, insecurity, guilt and worry. As extreme and frustrating as they may be, it’s important to accept and support your child’s feelings. Listen to them and convey acceptance, concern and empathy rather than suggestions or judgment. Assure them that their feelings are normal and understandable. If you’re dismissive it is likely to intensify their negative feelings. Be patient and expect set-backs along the way – even when things appear to be going well. Lifestyle changes, holidays and events can drain children’s coping resources and trigger upset emotions.

Space and Privacy

Territory battles can become an issue when children need to share a room. Ensure children have an allocated area of the room just for them.  Consider using dividers, curtains or the creative arrangement of furniture to make a more comfortable, personal place. Provide each child with a box or drawer to keep their special belongings that is off limits to others. It’s important that family members respect each other’s privacy.

Rules and Roles

Couples should openly discuss their parenting values to encourage a consistent approach. Discuss what your behavior expectations are and find reasonable compromises for any areas where you and your partner differ. Decide on clear family rules and stick to them. As children get older you may need to make age-appropriate revisions. It’s important to maintain a united front when it comes to boundaries, rules and discipline. Rules should be consistently and fairly applied to all children in the family.

Quality Time

Feelings of jealousy are almost to be expected when families merge. Children can become envious of the relationships you are forming with the new members of your family. Maintain a close relationship with your child by regularly spending time alone with them. Simple activities like going for a walk or a ride in the car together can create an opportunity to reconnect. This individual attention will help support them through this difficult transition.

Problem Solving

To avoid simmering resentment, frustration, hurt feelings and bickering, arrange regular family meetings. This is a great way for parents to make sure that everyone is on the same page as far as rules and expectations while also allowing children to feel that they are being heard and included. Everyone should be given equal opportunity to respectfully discuss their opinions. Focus on developing practical strategies together to avoid problems in the future.

Children in blended families may at first be resistant to many of the new changes occurring. However, most blended families work through these growing pains successfully. Positive attitudes, mutual respect, open communication and lots of love and patience are all important ingredients in the recipe for a healthy blended family.

Fathering

One of the principal behavior changes of American parents in the last generation centers on the wish that fathers be more involved day-to-day with their children.  My research on the issue of whether or not this is a good thing comes to two firm conclusions: 1) children raised by involved dads are thriving, healthy kids, and 2) fathers do not mother any more than mothers father.

So, what is unique about the way men parent, and does it matter to children?

  • Fathers roughhouse with their kids right from the beginning more than mothers. This is interesting to children, they respond to it, and even seek it out. It helps to build physical confidence in boys and girls.
  • Fathers allow frustration to build to elevated levels before intervening when their children are mastering something new. It turns out that dads think this helps children learn to handle frustration at manageable levels – preparing them for life’s uneven playing field. They are right.
  • Fathers may give their children more leeway in new circumstances while mothers tend to stay physically closer to their children in the park or at the mall.  Dads want children to explore. Children tend to like it, and learn independence from it.
  • Fathers use more real-world consequences to discipline whereas mothers use more social-relationship consequences.  Children who receive both integrate them well, giving them a stronger sense of internal control and self-discipline than children with uninvolved or absent dads.
  • Kids with involved dads – dads who have fed, changed diapered, bathed, and comforted (with the support of their spouses) – do better in school, have higher self-confidence, use less violent problem-solving themselves, and have stronger verbal skills.

Children can distinguish the voice of their father from their mother at birth – and their handling styles at six weeks. Any questions?  Just ask the kids what they think of fathering.