A Father's Duty - 2

A Father's Duty - 2

For a Father to Become a Father

It seems important that a father should take a broad view on child-rearing activities by a mother. Since bringing up the first child is a repetition of trial and error for a new mother, the father has to think a lot, make appropriate judgments and provide suitable support. For this purpose a father-and-child relationship must be established while a child is still an infant just like a mother-and-child relationship. The first encounter of a newborn baby is that with a mother and medical staff, then he or she meets with his or her father. The baby spends most of his/her first year getting in touch with mother, particularly right after birth. In many cases there are few opportunities for a father to intervene.

However, for the past ten years or so Western pediatricians have been calling for an early establishment of a father-and-child relationship as soon as possible; they expect and encourage that fathers should get in touch with their children just as mush as mothers do. That is to say, it is important that a father should hold his baby in his arms as soon as possible after birth. I have already mentioned the establishment of a mother-and-child relationship and their interactions. It is now clear that the same is true for fathers.

There is an interesting study we can learn a lot. In one group, two- to four-day-old babies stayed in their room together with either their mothers or their fathers. In another group the babies stayed in the room with both of their parents. There is no big difference between the mother-and-child and the father-and-child combinations. However, when a baby stayed together with both of his or her parents, there was a big difference. The father, compared with the mother, was holding his baby in his arms much longer and more frequently. He was speaking to, and touching his baby more frequently. This may be partly because the mother was tired due to childbirth. However, as for holding a baby in one's arms, there was not much difference between a mother and a father; there was a big difference in terms of speaking to the baby. Interestingly fathers smiled to his baby less frequently than mothers.

The implication is that when a mother, a father and their baby are together, the father plays an important role. With the three interacting one another, the interaction between a mother and her child seems to be less active. What is more interesting is that a father who attended his wife's labor and delivery, holds a dominant position in the interactions among himself, a mother and a child, with a stronger father-and-child unity or attachment. Since this is study in the U.S., it does not look into Japanese fathers. However, it is important that there is a phenomenon totally opposite to what is generally thought or perceived in the public.

Bridging the Society

With the development of linguistic ability and the start of group life in nursery and kindergarten, children rapidly acquire social skills. They become more active in playing, physically and intellectually. At this age the role of a father becomes more significant in a different sense. As children complete the infancy with the matured mother-and-child relationship, they enter the preschool age and their interpersonal relationship expands from home to kindergarten. When they reach the school age, the father's role becomes even more important for educational purposes in their relationship with friends and teachers. The father's role becomes important in the youth of their children. He should be able to answer his children's questions through his own experience, social practices and the meaning of life and so on.

The roles of mothers and fathers for the future of their children may differ from one family to another, but a father's role seems to be important to help his children open their eyes to the society. There has to be a sound base of father-and-child relationship and strong mental ties. That is why it is important to have intimate contacts between a father and his child early on in child's life.

Kobayashi, Noboru (1981). "Chichi oya no Deban - 2"
(Written in Japanese). Tokyo: Child Research Net. Retrieved Oct 8, 2005, from the World Wide Web
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