Raising a child is a challenging experience. The old saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,” takes on a whole new meaning when a couple becomes parents for the first time. A child can survive in a single parent household, but most child psychologists agree that it is in the best interest of a child for both parents to divvy up the responsibilities of parenting and actively participate in raising their child.
Children Benefit from Co-Parenting
Children, whose parents help one another and take on the shared responsibility in all household and parenting duties, are likely to become better adjusted, happier, and healthier adults than children who have one parent that solely takes on the majority of child care in the home. Whether it is a simple task of packing your cute diaper tote, or cleaning up a spill, your child is watching and learning from your behavior.
Social and Psychological Benefits
Children benefit, both socially and psychologically, from having both parents participate in child-rearing. They learn how to communicate and resolve conflict, as well as many other useful skills, from how their parents handle parenting and other household responsibilities. Children will learn from and practice these skills throughout their lives, so it is important to set a good example early on.
Young Children Are Very Impressionable
Children are like sponges. They soak up everything they can touch, see, or hear and form their own beliefs and understandings from watching others interact with one another. From the time they are born, children begin to learn and mimic the behaviors of their parents and other close family members.
When a child is young, it is important for them to witness the benefits of the successful teamwork between his or her parents in order to apply those same skills in their own life. The way mom and dad behave and communicate with one another, as well as others, will make an impression on the child at an early age.
For parents to be successful at sharing the responsibility of having a child, it is important to build a strong relationship and form teamwork. If one parent sees the other struggling, he or she should step in and help, if possible, in order to balance some of the stress of parenting out between both partners. It is important for parents to be on the same page and work to communicate effectively in order to avoid conflict, which can cause more damage than good to a child’s emotional health.
Parents who are able to successfully co-parent are less stressed and resolve any conflict in a healthy and productive manner. This is a skill your child will pick up on and will use in his or her own social interactions with other children and friends. This skill will also help your child to utilize their ability to negotiate and resolve conflict into their adult life.
Mothers and Fathers Offer Different Things
Yale University Medical School and Child Study Lab’s child psychiatrist, Kyle D. Pruett, M.D. says that mothers and fathers each bring something different to the table when it comes to parenting. Children react differently to each parent because of these differences in parenting and approaches to various issues that arise. As long as the parents successfully manage their responsibilities as a team, these differences will benefit the child.
Tradition Turned on Its Head
Traditionally women have been expected to perform most of the child care responsibilities while fathers were expected to provide for their family financially and hand out discipline. In the past 50 years, the parenting paradigm has shifted. By the 1970s, most women began working in addition to raising children and taking care of the household responsibilities.
Today, the majority of both parents work outside the home, and as a result, childcare doesn’t fall on the shoulders of one parent; it falls on both. Mothers and fathers have work together to make sure all of the household chores and care for the children are managed effectively. This benefits their marriage and creates a happier and healthier household for their children.
There Are Differences between Mothers and Fathers
As Dr. Pruett points out, both parents have different approaches to parenting and bring different emotions into interactions with their child, and children respond differently to those interactions. Mothers tend to be more tender and nurturing in interactions with their child, while fathers are tend to be more exciting and unpredictable. Children see these differences and learn to react to these qualities, which benefits the child.
As a clinical child psychiatrist, Dr. Pruett has spent many years researching child/parent interactions and learning from those as well as his interactions with his own children. Then, at 54 years-old, he became a father for the third time and says he now plays a more active role in being a father. He has written several books on the importance of a father’s role in parenting and the advantages of successfully co-parenting.
Importance of a Father’s Role in Parenting
Pruett says in his interview with The New York Times, that children benefit from having an active father in their lives. Children whose fathers participate in their upbringing stay in school, are less likely to be involved in criminal activity, participate in sexual activity later in life, and go on to have more successful marriages.
He also cites that there are many psychological benefits to children having fathers who are active parents, such as reduced suicide rates and death rates resulting from accidents. This improved emotional and mental health also leads to success in many aspects of a child’s adult life.
Sharing Responsibility Works
When parents share the responsibility of parenting, they teach their children vital life skills that help them to be healthier, happier, more successful adults. While mothers traditionally have provided most child care, research has proven that parenting fathers are equally important in a child’s development. Parents should work together and communicate well in order to provide the best environment for their child.