The Role of the Father in the young child’s life
Jun 21, 2022
(Author Ms.Nithya Ramachandran - Montessori Guide and Consultant)
“ Fortunately with the change in cultural and social conditions of our civilization men are now allowed to express their paternal feeling more, which means that children can benefit from the father’s presence in their lives from the very beginning” -Silvana Montarano, Understanding the Human Being
The role of the father’s life in a young child’s life is as significant as that of the mother. The father’s presence in a baby’s life begins while they are still in-utero. The father can talk to the baby, sing and even read to them. When babies begin to kick in- utero, the father can respond to this and gently place their hands on the mother’s belly. Listening to the father’s voice helps the baby establish a point of reference, they will recognize this voice after they are born and be comforted by its familiarity.
During pregnancy, the father, apart from supporting the mother, can also attend childbirth classes to prepare for the baby. Knowing about birth and child development helps the father become informed and play a supportive role during birth and in the postpartum period. The father can also help in preparing the home environment for the child before birth – by setting up areas for sleeping. feeding, changing, and playing. This can significantly reduce stress and improve the quality of life of family and baby in the days after birth.
During birth, the father can be the reassuring presence that the mother needs, by supporting her emotionally and physically through labour. In her book “Understanding the Human Being”, Dr Montanaro writes about a
‘sensitive period ‘ for paternity which begins as soon as the baby is born into this world. She recommends skin to skin contact with the newborn for the father as much as with the mother.
Dr.Montanaro writes about the first right weeks of life as the symbiotic period. She defined this period as the sacred time between the mother and the baby as they need to establish a bond and relationship. Understanding the significance of this period, the father can protect their space and privacy – helping other family members to understand this as well. The father can also bond with the baby by holding, rocking, talking, bathing and changing them.
“With such intelligent protection, the gratifying experiences of symbiotic life are more attainable and the first messages to the newborn about the new environment are more positive.”
Silvana Montarano, Understanding the Human Being
Once the baby becomes a toddler, that is, when they begin walking without support, the father can act as the collaborator with the young child. Together they can participate in practical life activities and food preparation activities around the house. It is also the father’s role to set an example of being an equal partner in the parental relationship.
The best investment a father can make in the young child’s life is the time they spend with them. More than the quantity, it is the quality of time that matters. Being completely present and engaging with you young one by talking to them, getting at their level and making eye contact as well as participating equally in taking care of them establishes a healthy relationship right from the beginning.