NDSU Extension - Sargent County


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Cool Dad!

jogging dad and his sonOver the weekend, my husband and I were walking through the men’s clothing section of a department store.  Squatting down beside a low table of men’s folded sport shirts was a man.  He was busy looking through one of the stacks of shirts as his young son, probably four or five years old, stood beside him.  As my husband and I approached, we could see the dad looking away from the stack of shirts from time to time to make eye contact with his son, and we could hear them talking.  Just as we were walking past them, the boy said, “Yeah, Dad!  Get that one!”  His dad replied, “You think so?”  And the boy answered, “Yeah!  It’s cool!  You’ll look like a rock star!”  The look on the boy’s face was pure happiness, enthusiasm, excitement, and admiration, all rolled into one.  The dad made eye contact with his son, and then with me for a brief moment.  It was just long enough to exchange smiles, and I gave him a big thumbs up.  What a great exchange to get to witness!  It just made me smile…for a long time. 

Dads are so very important in the lives of their children, in so many ways, and for so many reasons.  Through play, reading, communication, and guidance, dads play a unique and special role in their children’s growth and development.  I recall a poster that captured the essence of the father-child relationship, and it said, "A father is a daughter's first love and a son's first hero."

Research shows that fathers tend to communicate most with young children in times of shared activities. Shopping is just one example of a “shared activity.”  Other examples would include working together doing chores, walking or riding bike together, cooking together, and so on,  During such times, fathers will play, talk, ask questions, and communicate more than at other times.  The encounter at the department store was a great example of that!  

Also related to the topic of communication is humor.  Humor is something that dads and their children enjoy in their relationship, perhaps even more than mothers and their children.  Dads tend to inject fun and gently tease their young children. Besides fun, another benefit of this is that it helps children learn social interaction.

Research also shows that the most effective communication style for fathers to use with their children, when handling discipline, is to use a combination of love, reason and firm guidelines. Children who receive this type of communication tend to do much better than those whose fathers communicate with anger and threats or act too permissive and provide little direction.

NDSU Extension has a series of short newsletters on the topic of being a dad.  The series is titled, “Father Times.”  Each of the newsletters addresses a different topic by providing helpful background information and some suggestions for activities dads can use to enhance their relationship with their children.  Some of the topics are making connections, building relationships, communication, the world of play, the magic of reading, child guidance, physical development, and emotional intelligence. 

Each of the newsletters is available online or from the extension office.  Parenting classes and workshops are also available.  Please give me a call if you or your friends, family, co-workers or employees would like more information or other learning opportunities related to being a dad.  NDSU Extension has a lot to offer, and we are here to serve you!

Source:  “Fathers, Kids and Communication,” Father Times Newsletter, issue #3, NDSU Extension Service.

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