“Communication, if done the right way, is another way of reaching out and touching a child.”
– Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D, author of Tips for Parent-child Communication
Dad Supporters, that is ordinary people like you and I, can help fathers and their children grow in their ability to understand each other. Be a catalyst for better father-child communication, whether you are a teacher, good friend, parent-in-law, parent, or wife.
Mr John Chong, Vice Principal of Macpherson Primary School said that groups can be established for fathers in schools, “to increase the prominence and importance of fatherhood.” In such groups, fathers can gather to play, eat, share, and learn from one another.
Here are some things you can do as a teacher:
- Involve fathers in class or school events. In addition, choose to contact and update fathers, not just mothers, on their child’s developmental or schooling issues.
- Initiate homework activities that involve fathers. For example, get students to ask their dads about a childhood experience they are proud of. This creates opportunities for bonding and father-child communication.
- Identify and recruit more experienced or mature father volunteers to form strategic alliances and networks in schools with the purpose of mentoring and imparting their practical real life experiences to other dads.
What You Can Do as a Good Friend
Boon*, 40, shared that he enjoys spending time with his best friend’s family. “It’s really fun for my son when we go over to visit Josh* who has four kids around my son’s age. I see how well Josh* and his wife bond with their kids, and I sometimes tell him so.”
Here are some things you can do for a good friend:
- Plan an activity. Organise an outing to the zoo, bird park or science centre. Outings create opportunities for dads to bond with their kids by getting everyone to do something enjoyable or learn something together.
- Celebrate Father’s Day. Organise a party or gathering to teach kids to appreciate their dad on this special day.
- Offer to play a special role. Why not say “yes” if approached by a friend to be a godparent, or to mentor to his child. This reinforces your friendship and the relationship with the family, allowing you to better support father and child in effective communication.
What You Can Do as a Parent or Parent-in-law
In his article, Welcoming Young Dads to the Fatherhood Party, Jamie Bohnett, author of Like Father, Like Son, wrote that he organised a barbeque to bring together his son-in-law, Sky’s dad, brothers and some friends, to encourage him as a New Dad.
Sky appreciated the effort. He said: “…the stories of fatherhood each dad brought to the table also helped reiterate the importance of a dad’s role in a child’s life.”
Here are some things a parent or parent-in-law can do:
- Be a mentor: Role-model positive communication habits. Avoid putting your son or son-in-law down or criticising him in front of the grandchildren as that can breed resentment. If necessary, speak to him about your concerns in private.
- Be helpful while knowing how to avoid interfering when your son or son-in-law disciplines his children. This is unless you see physical, emotional or mental harm. Share with him about resources or services if you think he requires external professional help.
- Be an encourager. Help your grandchildren to communicate openly with their dad. As a respected elder, you can be a mediator or advisor when communication breaks down due to disputes or fights.
What You Can Do as a Wife
Mr Nicholas Pinto, a dad of three and teacher at NorthLight School, shared that while he was caught up in work at home recently, his wife, Valerie said, “Go take a walk with Michael (their eldest son) and ask him what happened in school today. He looked sad.”
“I did not even notice he (Michael) was sad!” said Nicholas. “So I am glad my wife prompted me to be more aware and be more present for him.”
“I think many fathers fall into the same category of being too busy despite our good intentions to be great dads. I believe there is greater father effectiveness when husband and wife support each other, and when a wife is a cheerleader for her husband to spur him on,” Nicholas added.
Here are some things a wife can do:
- Truly Listen to what our husband says about the children. He might see things differently at times, but ‘listen beyond the words’ to know in what way he has the children’s welfare at heart.
- Be a mirror. Let your husband know if he does something positive. Help him see whether what he says (words) or does (non-verbal behaviour) is helpful or unhelpful to the children.
- Step Aside. Be conscious of whether you interrupt when your husband is communicating with the children. This can be disempowering and frustrating for him. Allow your spouse some freedom in the way he bonds with them.
*names have been changed
- Child Development Institute Parenting Today. Guidelines for Parent/Child Communication, retrieved 14 February 2012
- AgriLife.org: Texas AgriLife Extension Service: Family & Consumer Services. Keys to Effective Father–Child Communication, retrieved 14 February 2012
- Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D (2011). Tips for Parent-Child Communication, retrieved 14 February 2012
- Welcoming Young Dads to the Fatherhood Party, retrieved 5 March 2012
About the Author: The Dads for Life Resource Team comprises local content writers and experts, including psychologists, counsellors, educators and social service professionals, dedicated to developing useful resources for dads.
First published on 06-03-2012.
Categories: Ages and Stages