Manila, Philippines – In the Philippines, when we talk about the role of the father, the traditional belief is that their primary role is to be the breadwinner for the household. This means fathers often take a backseat when it comes to hands-on parenting, with their time spent instead on working day and night to provide for the family. However, as the common saying goes, it takes a village – or as we like to think of it: a team – to raise a child. Science has shown dads are meant to be more than just a secondary parent, with studies demonstrating the presence of an involved father has a great impact on early childhood development.
Similac GainSchool recently highlighted the benefit of “dual parenting” through the launch of their television commercial featuring Bianca Gonzales, JC Intal, and their daughter Lucia. The campaign not only shows Bianca helping Lucia to grow up to be smart but also shows JC, as an involved father, helping Lucia to grow up to be strong.
It goes without saying mothers play an important role in childhood development, but how much do we really know about “The Father Effect”?
“The Father Effect” is an umbrella term used in research studies to refer to the positive effects of a paternal presence, or in simpler terms, an involved and engaged father. As family structures continue to evolve, there is not one fixed definition of a father, with paternal figures differing from family to family. However, how does science define what it means to be a father who is involved and engaged? In the context of fatherhood, being involved and engaged means they have two important attributes – present and caring. “When we had Lucia, I always wanted to be there for all her firsts. No matter how busy life gets, I always make a conscious effort to make time for her – so we can learn and play together – because nothing is more important than seeing my girl grow up,” says JC Intal. Although these things may seem simple, it is scientifically proven that having a father figure who is present and caring can make a big difference during childhood development.
A present father does not necessarily mean one who is always in close proximity. Sometimes, fathers live in a different household, are based in a different country, or are faced with other circumstances that cause them to be physically separated from his child. Despite this, there are modern ways for fathers to remain engaged – using video calls, letters, and regular contact. During these moments of contact, the way the mother and father interact also has a significant impact on the child, with studies showing that a good mother-father relationship helps promote better psychological and emotional health of the child. When parents work together as a team, their efforts are amplified by each other’s individual strengths and they become more responsive, affectionate and involved with their children.
Aside from being present, fathers must also be involved – creating meaningful and impactful interactions with his child. It’s not enough for a father to identify himself as the family’s breadwinner or provider to show he cares; his child needs to really feel his care. Acts as simple as playing outside in the rain, or teaching his child how to swim or ride a bike can allow a father to improve his child’s sense of independence, curiosity and preparedness for the outside world. Going against the common notion that it is only the mother who stays home with the child while the father is always out, it is also important for fathers to stay home and spend quality time with their children. Fathers generally expose their children to experiences outside of a mother’s expertise, again demonstrating that fathers do not merely play a supporting role to the mother, and that taking a “dual parenting” approach can help shape a child’s growth and development.
As gender-based roles change, team parenting paves the way for well-rounded growth and development of children. As we have seen in Similac GainSchool’s new campaign with Bianca and JC, parenting should not be a battle between mother versus father, or smart versus strong; there is always a way for both to work together. This happens when there is a common goal, and in this case, the goal for both parents is to provide the best for their child. Founded on the concept of teamwork, Similac GainSchool with HMO helps provide the nutrients needed for a smart brain and strong immunity, as having both allows children to learn faster. This is why Similac GainSchool believes in the importance of “dual parenting”, as it empowers both parents to provide their children with the proper nutrition to achieve a common goal: to raise children to be the best they can be.
Also read: Study: A father’s important role in his child’s language development