Many fathers never realize how important they are to the development of their children. Yet, as early as in Infancy, the father’s participation in the basic needs of a child have tremendous immediate as well as lasting effects. For example, when fathers help with holding, feeding, and soothing an infant, this experience provides the child with a sense of two, rather than a single caregiver. Here, the small child recognizes that not just one, but at least two caregivers are there to provide relief during stressful times and leads to the establishment of basic trust.
Once children enter the toddler years, the father’s presence and time with their young child helps them to better manage separation from mother in order to develop a better sense of self and ensure a more comfortable capacity to manage stress. Toddlers and pre-school children who have invested fathers, tend to be more successful tolerating change and adaptation and also tend to be more popular.
Because fathers tend to play differently with their kids – dads tend to be a bit more “physical” then moms in their quality of play, it assists both boys and girls to manage aggression better and not get as carried away when they play with their peers. This is due to the fact that most fathers will both have fun but also calm the waters when the play gets too rambunctious. This process then becomes internalized inside of the child.
By the time kids become school age, the father then helps boys and girls better understand gender difference. Here, when boys and girls become more identified with either being male or female, fathers help boys better understand what it feels like to be a boy and give them a direct reference model. As when moms provide the same for their daughters, the parent’s gender role is very helpful in helping kids feel comfortable about who they are and who they might become.
And then there is the tween and teen years where the father becomes a frequent buffer due the conflicts between mothers and both sexes as they attempt a more complete separation from moms on the road to greater autonomy. Of course he doesn’t take sides, he rather tries to better calm the waters.
Children who grow up without invested fathers sometimes develop a condition called “father hunger”. These children often experience significant problems with regulating aggression, making friends, and feeling comfortable identifying themselves as being “male”.
Taken together, the roles of fathers are vastly important in the lives of both boys and girls and the dads who enjoy this time and dedication experience the greatest joys in being a father and rejoicing in raising healthier children.
Dr. Keith Kanner
“OUCH”. The connotations associated with Tough Love are commonly negative. It feels as though the approach is “mean” and “harsh”, rather than a “wake up” call that behavior needs to change. The approach does entail “love”, but the delivery is not done in a teddy bear fashion. It is direct and to the point. The behavior must change or there will be a consequence. This approach is based on Learning Theory. That negatively reinforcing a behavior reduces the repetition of the behavior in question. A child hits their sibling and they gets a time out because a parent will not allow their child to do something “wrong”. Tough love. What is the alternative? Reinforcing “positive” behavior? Positive Parenting? Nope, the research does not support this approach. This is why. Kids are not that simple. They are not dogs. If a kid thinks they can get away with something, they will. This is reality. When a child has a limit, they are forced to change. If they get a reward for being “good”, this has nothing to do with the “bad” behavior. Rewarding successful behavior is also essential, but, it’s not enough. Parents need to be the “bad” guy sometimes and it’s a tough position to take for most parents. Why? It is much easier to gratify a child than punish them. Most parents cringe when they feel as though they have made their own child cry. “Ouch”. Guilt is one of the most common pitfalls of good parenting. But remember, no pain, no gain. Limits promote growth and inhibit regression. Most successful schools in fact utilize a Tough Love approach and are the most effective in promoting appropriate behavior and have the fewest problems with both Bullies & Mean Girls. These school also produce the most students who go to College. Why? The students know that there are Standards that must be followed or there will be a price to pay. Kids can understand this and it is helpful, not harmful.
The difference between technology and human behavior are quite different. Technology does change , but human behavior does not. People behave consistently despite the changing world around them. For example, violent television and video games are proved to cause overstimulation in most kids if they are overexposed. Overstimulation is a human condition. However, the ways that we effectively deal with it is the same now as it was 100 years ago. Limits. Tough love. Dealing with behavior is well defined with research and clinical data. Kids need limits when they break the rules. Otherwise, they become entitled and self-centered. Parents have to sometimes be the “bad guys” because they love their children. In fact , the optimal role of a parent is to help their child to function in society, and not live in some sort of “special” bubble.
Kids who act out have problems. They have not internalized rules and the essence of right versus wrong. Limits, rules, laws, and adult intervention are necessary to keep kids on track but this does not happen a lot of the time. Why ? Parents fear setting limits. They fear their kids not liking them and fear they are hurting them. No. Limits are love. Kids need parents to draw the line. They are not yet capable of self-responsibility until they reach at least late adolescence ( 17 years + ).
Even Sigmund Freud in his landmark essay Civilization and its Discontents spelled out how without rules, laws, and holding people accountable, society would not exist,and he was right on this one. Parents need to set limits. They need to be tough when their kids are not towing their own ability to self-regulate according to their age. Infantilization is treating a kid as though they cannot follow a rule. This communicates to the child that they don’t have to. When they reach Adulthood, they become selfish, non empathic, and pathetic. “YUCK”.
So parents, don’t be afraid to be “tough” in the love department when your kid acts entitled or don’t tow the line of what they are able to accomplish. It’s okay to reinforce when they do something well but it is equally or more important to stop them from doing something wrong or stupid. That is love. Looking out for the best interests of a child’s complete development is the optimal role of good parenting. But, you have to be tough sometimes to show your kids that you really do love them.
How come every time a guy turns fifty and buys himself a sports car, it is assumed he must be going through a “midlife Crisis”? Why can’t he finally decide that half his life is over and it’s time to take better care of himself and get his act together. The concept of mortality does appear to carry a lot of weight in terms of helping people finally decide to make some changes, even more so than New year’s Resolutions which repeat year after year. The problem however is that society and stereotypes often turn obvious change into some sort of problem. When people make changes often times the stereotype is that they must be “on drugs” or going through some sort of crisis. Why can’t the change just be part of an awakening or psychological growth?
Take our 50 year-old example, Ray, and a look into why he decided to buy himself a Porsche for his 50th birthday last year. He has done well in his career, has a family, works out, and has also decided to take up the piano at the ripe age of 50. His father died at the early age of 60 and he wants to live a long and happy life. What’s the problem here? Well, to begin with, his closest friends are convinced his must be in some sort of crisis. Why?
A healthy 50 year-old person is one who takes healthy ownership of themselves by taking care of their physical health, their family, their finances, their friendships, and also has some sort of a passion that they can be creative with. If this sounds like a tall order, it is but this is normal healthy development for a person turning 50. However, many observing this in another might conclude something is very wrong if they themselves are not doing the same thing.
How come this happens? People who tend to label others are frequently very unhappy and unfulfilled individuals who may actually be in some sort of developmental arrest. These are the same dynamics we see in bullies. Because of their unhappiness, they make others unhappy and cannot wish another well. Envy is at the base and a tendency to criticize others as a means of making themselves feel less vulnerable.
If each person turning 50 could just strive to be healthy, maybe what has been mis-named as a crisis could be seen in the positive light of healthy growth. Wouldn’t that be nice? So, the next time you see Ray behind the wheel of his shiny red Porsche, remember that maybe he has actually found happiness and is not some sort of unhappy middle-aged man.
Background: As parents, we are all familiar with those frustrating moments when our children whine or complain when they sense something inside of them does not feel right. Whining stems from two different sources: physical or emotional. From the physical side whining will emerge from as early as two and run through adolescence and is related to physical discomfort which usually is not psychosomatic but actually due to some sort of illness or pain, such as fatigue. The second, and most common cause of whining, is emotionally based and cause by frustration related to having to do something they do not wish to do. Excessive whining is common and normal in the 2 to 4 year old age group as these children are trying to break away from their mother and strive towards independence. (more…)
Background: If your family is like most, your children and adolescents are still in a state of denial that school begins next week given the holiday festivities. As parents however, you are ready for the holidays to end and excited about getting them back into structure and routine. Many parents avoid the concept of talking to their children about school re-starting for fear of putting their children into bad moods and getting into a fight. On the other hand, when parents do not approach talking about getting ready for school again and looking ahead to perhaps new year’s expectations for success, the avoided conflicts tend to emerge shortly after school begins when problems may already have arisen or repeated themselves from the following term. In addition, when parents do not discuss this upcoming change, children will often go into a short term slump as they re-enter school due to not managing their feelings of disappointment. (more…)
If you didn’t hear, a National cat fight broke out a few weeks ago when a Yale University Law professor by the name of Amy Chua released her memoir about her success as raising her child the “Tiger Mom” way. Well, anyone knows that criticizing mom is not a nice thing to do anyway and the media has had a field day with mom-types recently, like the Cougars, so, the sparks are flying between various groups from the Tigers to the Cougars to the Free-Rangers to the steadfast likely “Jewish, Guilty, Ambivalent, Preoccupied Western Mom” type which Ayelet Waldman wrote a great piece about in the Sunday Wall Street Journal back on January 15-16 this year. One of my friends also reminded me of the “Momma Bear Moms”. She is from the Mid-West so I think that is more like the one Waldman writes about without the injection of Jewish guilt. (more…)
It was bound to happen. Your oldest child leaves home for the first time for more than a night. Lots of kids have sleepovers and fewer go away to sleep away camps before the ages of 9 or 10, but a week is a long time for both our kids and ourselves to be away from one another. They, or we, just may not admit it. At least for the first time. The only two people that are excited about my daughter going away to camp are her younger brothers. In fact, they helped her pack and told her not to hurry back. I, on the other hand, have been going through a reaction to this separation for the past week but remind myself that this is a really important experience for her to go through. Being away from home with her friends without a cell phone. Why is this so important? (more…)
When you play with your kids, do you let them win? You really should if they are under the age of 10. Children between the ages of 4 and 10 are obsessed with the concepts of winning, losing, and fairness. After all, growing up means giving up all sorts of childhood fantasies that we as parents have always enjoyed. But, once children begin to dabble in the world of reality testing, they get disappointed, very disappointed and winning fills the gap of a major sense of losing which they all feel. The losses are huge and widespread during these years. Wishes to become superheroes, Princes and Princesses, and even your husband or wife, makes us all smile and the list goes on. But, nothing compares to the wish to be the only child, and this one really hurts the most once they experience the birth of a sibling. So, kids, like adults, try to find other ways to feel successful and winning is a primary way that kids try to erase their losing pains. It also is a way to build up a healthy ego that they need to have in place in order to make it through the adolescent years without too many scars. The problem however, is that every other child at their stage of development is on that same page and compete with each other everywhere from the classroom to the football field and they face the music of having to tolerate the fate of reality – that we win and lose about half the time. (more…)
As with other changes these days, kid bullying is no exception. But now the effects are so intense that victims are killing themselves. We all remember that bully or two in either grade or middle school who make us feel bad or afraid and we dealt with it, but now bullies are not only at school but woven into social media and on the Internet or both. It is no longer an issue between the bully and their prey but now shared with the social would with the click of a mouse. In other words, bullying has changed shape and we have a real problem on our hands. Let’s look at the stats: (more…)