What happens when a researcher tries to measure the parent-child bond using the same standard yardstick for both moms and dads?
That’s what Dr. Kathryn Kerns discovered when she talked to teens and preteens about their parents.
But something wasn’t adding up: the kids were describing “rich, warm relationships” with their dads. So why weren’t the fathers scoring better?
Because the researchers were using the wrong yardstick.
Turns out you can’t evaluate dads the same as moms, because fathers parent their children very differently than mothers do.
Dr. Kerns talked about her findings with the Wall Street Journal recently. The article, “Mom, Let Dad Be Dad,” describes how her team needed to create new tests and techniques to better capture “the father factor.”
And once they did, dads started scoring much better. We’re now learning about “the nuances, and the value, of the seemingly random, sometimes silly play many dads engage in with their children.”
Where previous mom-oriented tests minimized the importance of exploration and risk-taking, new studies are capturing just how much fathers contribute in this area. Through play, silliness and even a certain level of “pushiness,” dads help children develop and become well-rounded adults.
I’m sharing this with you because this weekend is Father’s Day, and sometimes dads get a bum rap. If only they could be more sensitive, more tender, more … like mom.
Don’t get me wrong – sensitivity and tenderness are great qualities in a dad.
But so are a love of roughhousing and laughter!
So this Father’s Day, celebrate dads. Thank God for all the unique ways they contribute to their children – the zany antics they go through to make a baby smile, the wrestling on the floor with the kids, the corny “dad jokes” they share.
And when Dad throws his toddler high up into the air this weekend? Smile and let him be. Turns out, he’s just doing his job.
Happy Father’s Day, everyone!