Submitted by FCSS
There’s no definitive guidebook when it comes to parenting.
Sure there’s been a plethora of suggestions, how-to books, and advice columns.
But, it’s mostly been learned as you go and hope for the best.
There’s no model dad or superhero archetype/stereotype that defines a dad, even though pop culture and history has tried to pinpoint it as an exact science. There’s no father knows best in today’s world, instead collective parenting rings true. Quality time with kids over quantity is key though, as dads are celebrated this Father’s Day on June 21.
It’s imperative for dads to offer their children purposeful and intentional quality of presence, most of all. Love, nurturing, teaching, and positive modelling is a great start.
“Giving them your attention or just being present with them,” said Bryan Bullock, Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) counsellor.
During the recent self-isolation of families due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s definitely been an abundance of quantity, as both moms and dads have spent more time at home.
“There’s tons of stuff I love about being a dad,” Bullock added. “What I appreciate about it is being a secure and safe place for my kids to grow and learn and challenge themselves.”
But, Bullock noted, it is a challenge being a dad.
“There’s no answer book and no exact way to do it right and you may never get there.”
Bullock has offered many presentations over the years on the importance of father involvement and said there has been a shift where the discussion used to be dads are important, too, and how to get dads more involved in the parenting process.
“Slowly, dads have become more involved and they’re just part of it. Parents are working together more and more. This shift is less about how to get dad more involved and more about just parenting, whether you’re a dad or a mom,” Bullock said, adding both roles matter and both roles can play off of one another. “To give the child a rich environment to develop in.”
For new fathers, from both a personal and professional perspective, Bullock pointed out there is a real value in connecting with other dads to help navigate the waters.
“I know for myself, being able to have some friends going through the same thing, because it’s new. It’s nerve-racking, it’s scary, and it’s exciting. There’s just a whole swirl of emotions going on. It can be helpful to just connect, whether that be with a friend or professional to talk through it and get some foundation,” he said, adding networking can often times help secure parenting footing and also celebrate a pretty cool thing, which is being a dad.
Bullock said it is important to be involved as much as possible in the care of a child too, including with baths, doctor appointments, and decisions.
Also, bonding with a child is about finding opportunities to have fun together. A great activity is reading together.
“I would suggest two books I am enjoying reading with my kids right now, ‘The Great Big Book of Feelings’ and ‘In My Heart,’” said Bullock.
With many moms and dads working from home for the time being, here are a few tips for balancing work-life and parenting-life from dadcentral.ca:
1. Establish and stick to a family routine and schedule. This may need to be modified from the typical schedule, but should be clear to everyone what happens, and when. Whether it is creating dedicated work time, quiet time, and play time for both you and your kids.
2. Caring for your child(ren) comes first – which may require you to work flexible hours or request a later deadline for work, so you’re present for the moments your child needs you most.
3. Have positive and open communication with your kids – whether you are speaking about difficult times in your lives or in the world. It is important to help them understand the situation.
4. Praise/compliment your child(ren) liberally, when you catch them being good. For example, mention what you specifically like about their behaviour.
5. Get the day started off on a positive note with a morning routine. For example, prepare family breakfast together, from cooking to prepping the table.
6. Choose your battles. For example, ignore minor or annoying behaviour while ensuring family rules are being respected.
7. Create new rituals for your child(ren) to look forward to. For example, stop everything you’re doing and have a dance party at 10 a.m. every morning.
8. Think about how to use everyday household items as crafts for kids. For example, use paper towel rolls to make hockey sticks or telescopes.
9. Keep your child(ren) engaged with innovation and resourcefulness with at-home activities. For example, cook together while learning about nutrition and math and/or do science experiments with ingredients in your kitchen.
10. Read bedtime stories together. For example, find authors doing interactive readings online, while watching and/or listening together.
For more information about FCSS services in your area visit online at fcss.ca. FCSS services are available for residents of Barnwell, Barons, Coaldale, Coalhurst, Lethbridge County, County of Warner, Coutts, Milk River, M.D. of Taber, Nobleford, Picture Butte, Raymond, Stirling, Taber, Vauxhall, and Warner. Dads, check out abdads.ca for more information.