The New Face of Fatherhood

What Dad Involvement Means for Kids

In early childhood, the distinct ways that mothers and fathers interact with children encourage the development of different skills, according to Catherine Tamis-LeMonda, PhD, professor of developmental psychology at New York University, in New York City. Though moms and dads share many of the same parenting techniques, dads tend to play more physically with their kids than moms do. In her research, Dr. Tamis-LeMonda has documented a link between the stimulating play style of both parents and improved language and cognitive skills in toddlers. And in the long term, an actively involved dad serves as a strong role model who will encourage his kids to eagerly embrace family life as well. "Kids see that child rearing is a shared responsibility, and they'll come to expect that in their relationships," Dr. Krippner says.

That, no doubt, is a lesson that the babies enrolled in the "Time for Dads" class in Brookline, Massachusetts, will ultimately learn. As the Saturday-morning session draws to a close, class leader Andrew Sokatch, 37, watches as the guys pack up their infants and equipment and head out to watch a ball game, mow the lawn, or run their errands. Sokatch, who has a 5-month-old baby himself, fully understands the pride that these new fathers feel. "I love being a dad, and I'm proud as hell when I take my son shopping in his BabyBjorn," he says. "It's the highlight of my day."

Copyright © 2008. Used with permission from the June 2008 issue of Parents magazine.

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