Monday, June 11, 2012

The importance of fathers communicating with their children

Father’s Day is coming up and it’s a good time to remember fathers all over the world who stay involved in their children’s lives.

Father and Son
In most societies, the father is tasked with providing for the children and the child rearing responsibilities are given to the mother. However, it is becoming clearer that fathers provide an integral element in raising happy and balanced children. Modern fathers know the grave importance of having an active role in their children’s upbringing. Many studies have shown the many benefits that children reap in their social, emotional and intellectual growth when they have an open line of communication with their fathers.

For children, talking with their dads is a way that they feel loved. It is also an opportunity for fathers to affirm their children. Various cultures demonstrate their love and affection towards their children in a number of ways. Communicating with children is an integral aspect in building a strong family relationship in just about any society.

Talking during shared activities

Rather than directly confronting children with lessons, many fathers opt the more subtle approach of communicating with their children when doing activities together. Fathers can bond with their sons over a game of basketball, while driving to soccer practice in the car or when doing chores such as washing the dishes or cleaning the car together in the home.

This is important because research has shown that frequency in communication is an important aspect of building a strong relationship with children.

These simple activities are excellent opportunities for fathers to delve into their children’s lives. It is less intimidating and children feel less threatened in sharing their thoughts and feelings or answering questions when in a more casual setting.

African Art "Father and Son"

In many African tribes, rather than instituting corporal punishment for a child that has misbehaved, the father will take the child out for a long walk to help calm down the child and to reassure him of love. At the same time, the correct lessons are imparted without having to yell loudly and using violence, thereby keeping the interaction free of negative energy.

Dads share stories

One major difference between fathers and mothers when bonding with their children is that fathers tend to reveal themselves to their children through stories. Sharing personal stories about their own childhood or relating other experiences is a way that children can learn various morals and abstract concepts from their fathers.

For example, Native American Indian fathers believe they are keepers of their children and raise their children to help develop their skills to become productive members of the tribe by imparting tribal stories and legends from one generation to another.

In many other cultures, fathers share stories and experiences from their own past, providing children a glimpse of their father’s values and personality. The self-esteem of sons is given a boost when they feel that they have something in common with their father. 

Dads involve humor

One difference that fathers bring to the table when talking to their children is humor. Stories come alive when using voices, telling jokes or sharing funny anecdotes. This is probably one reason why story telling with dads is such an anticipated activity with children.

The Aka Dads

The father and son of a Aka tribe community of Arunachal Pradesh
The Aka are considered one of the least ethnically and linguistically groups in Central Africa. The language spoken by the Aka tribesmen is primarily Diaka, which has three tones making their language sound rather musical. Bantu (Oubanguian) and Sango are other languages spoken. Their words and actions towards their children is truly something impressive.

The best dads in the world are supposed to be the AKA Pygmy people in Central Africa and in Northern Congo. This hunter gatherer tribe only numbers 20,000 individuals but have some of the most loving interactions with their children. What is amazing about them is that the males in the tribe are some of the most involved fathers in human history.

Infants in the tribe have easy access to their fathers 47% of the time. Compared to other cultures and societies, the men in the Aka tribe play more with their children and spend more time holding and cuddling their infants by at least five times than of fathers in other cultures.

The Aka tribesmen are also willing to care for their children. They have even been known to allow their infants to suckle at their nipple when the mother is not around. This show of intimacy at a very young age lays the foundation for excellent communication with the children as they age. These people are able to illustrate the importance and possibility of close physical contact and interaction with their young.

The fathers also help in naming their children by giving them unique personal names. In some cases, young children may be called Bimba, which means flea, or even Madjembe, which refers to intestinal worms. These names aren’t necessarily meant as insults but may simply sound nice, which is why they are used as names by Aka fathers.

Ashanti fathers

The Ashanti people in central Ghana also have active fathers in the community. It is the father’s task to teach the son a skill from age eight or nine. However, uncles are also given an important role in raising the child. It is the task of the mother’s brother to teach young boys how to use the talking drums. These talking drums are important in learning the Ashanti language. These drums are also used during various ceremonies and are used in communicating with others.

Fathers all over the world simply play a pivotal role in the development of their children in what they say and do to their children. Whether it’s dads in America, padre in Spanish speaking countries, baba in Swahili, a fuquin in China or a chichi in Japan, fathers deserve to be applauded! Happy Father’s Day!

Photo Credits: Wikimedia Commons
-       Father and Son

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