Why are dads important? One of the upsides of the pandemic is that the men, now working from home, are discovering the multi-faceted answer to this question. Every time I work with a team, I do one-on-one interviews with the staff – a new finding for men, in particular, in managerial or executive positions, is that they are loving being more a part of their children’s days. From seeing them at breakfast, lunch and supper, to observing them in action during the day. Getting hugs when they get back from school. This is in sharp contrast to arriving home as they often used to pre-pandemic just in time to give their children a good night kiss.
So why are dads so important in their children’s lives? How dads are with their children has a massive impact on how kids will value and respect themselves down the line. Here are five ways to earn Frequent Father Points – it’s an acronym I have developed for dads called the PAPPA Effect:
P – PRESENT
A – AVAILABLE
P – PROTECTIVE
P – PROUD
A – ATTENTIVE
Let me give you a quick explanation:
– Be present both emotionally and physically
– Be available – don’t be so busy that kids think you don’t care
– Be protective – fathers are a symbol of physical and emotional security
– Be proud – teach kids to value themselves by valuing and believing in them
– Be attentive – pay attention, listen, talk and share
We celebrate Father’s Day on Sunday, 20 August 2021 in a country where so many children do not have the gift of the Pappa Effect. A country where:
- We so often see and experience the abuse of masculine power – on our own doorsteps or in the news
- Nearly 60% of our children have absent fathers according to a five-year study by the Human Sciences Research Council and the South African Race Relations Institute. The study also asserts that children growing up without fathers are more likely to experience emotional disturbances and depression.
I wish for all children to be able to trust both their dad’s toughness and tenderness. Make sure your kids don’t grow up afraid of you and, by the same token, make sure you don’t leave their mother with all the discipline duties either. There is no “ideal” way to be a dad and you don’t have to be a superhero. Your kids are just looking for an everyday hero who shows up for them in very real and tangible ways. It doesn’t matter how much money you make or what job you do as long as you are doing your best. It doesn’t matter whether you are very outwardly affectionate or love your children more quietly. The question is, do they know you love them and that you care for them? What matters is that you are committed to your children and involved over time – that you share yourself with them and find ways to validate and affirm them for who they are not just what they do.
What are you doing to earn Frequent Father Points this year with your own children, or maybe as an unsung hero in the life of another child who doesn’t have a dad for a male role model?
- Have a dad and daughter date
- Go on a father and son adventure
- Camp with your kids in the garden (maybe when the weather warms up!)
- Read stories to them if they are under the age of 10 – your voice has a timber to it that is unique and has a special place in their hearts
- Cook with them
- Teach them how to build a fire/braai – teach them well and they will be safe
- Next time you test the water of the swimming pool (if you have one) show them how you do it – it’s a science experiment
- When you wash your car invite them in to help – it’s all about taking responsibility for what we have
- Show that you respect and care for their mother if you are in a relationship with her
- If you are not in a relationship with their mother, find a way to create a safe and neutral space between you where the children are not poisoned by the adult issues at play if there are any