When my husband and I were in Sweden last fall, our walking tour guide had us play a little game. We would get a wrapped candy for every Latte Papa that we could spot along a city block. What is a Latte Papa you might ask? He is a stay-at-home dad touring the neighbourhood with his baby in a snuggly or a stroller and a café latte in hand. We collected lots of candies.
Sweden has taken on board the notion that dads are super important. And if not an actual dad, then a trusted dad stand-in who will introduce baby to a different take on the world. With new parents jointly benefitting from 480 days of paid leave, Swedish dads feel valued and babies enjoy loads of bonding time in those early months and years.
While playing a bit on stereotypes, there’s just something about men and kids. It’s fun to watch. Men encourage kids to get wet, get dirty, pick up worms and try some pretty crazy stuff. When Dad is in charge, kids are far more likely to engage in risky, unstructured, outdoor play and far less likely to check that something is allowed before just going for it. And when dads say “you climbed up there so you can climb back down” they’re giving kids time to problem solve. Then, there’s all those giggles when dads and kids play together. Somehow, dads throw out the play rulebook provoking even more giggles with a whole repertoire of made-up sounds and elephant-back rides. It’s like a dad-baby secret society. Don’t tell Mom!
Dads can have a profound impact on their babies. A supportive dad can bolster mom’s child-rearing skills and help foster healthy emotional, cognitive and social development. When a new dad feels included in child rearing, his feelings of isolation and stress decrease, especially when new parents work as a team. We have to reach out to new dads, find dad mentors for young dads and give them all dad confidence.
On this Father’s Day we celebrate all dads along with the generous men who step into dad shoes when the call goes out. We moms can forget to say thank you. And the kids? They’re waiting in the tree across the street to see if dad can come and catch them when they jump.
Happy Father’s Day
CEO Families Canada