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Take time to praise the parenting team

I always seem to get far more praise than my wife does when we are taking our babies out in public.

People seem to respond to my very limited and humble skill at not completely upsetting the babies as a rare and virtuous quality.

While I appreciate the kindness and encouragement (who doesn't like a kind word from a stranger?), it does strike me as odd that people spend less time praising the mother than they do the father, or babies themselves. I know it is expected that mothers take care of their infant children, but that makes it no less difficult a task. And as mothers are the first educators of our young people, I think anything to encourage and uplift mothers on a regular basis would be a great way to sustain them during such a joyful, yet trying period. All that being said, it's not really about the praise. The reason I mentioned the involvement of fathers in child development is because it has positive effects for the health outcomes of both the child and the father. There have been many studies about the involvement of fathers in the lives of their children and its effects. It's becoming increasingly clear that it is beneficial for the child's mental and physical development, as well as their social and emotional wellbeing.

Meanwhile, men who care for their children have less mental distress, lower risk for depression and demonstrate better health overall compared to other men. Who doesn't want to live a longer, healthier life? aising children is almost like the fountain of youth. And you don't need a treasure map for this one, you just need to learn how to change diapers (among other, less smelly tasks).

Essentially, both parents have this effect on children when providing a loving environment. But when you have multiple people contributing to their development, it's like having multiple gardeners beautifying all the plants and flowers in your garden. It makes it more likely that the child will benefit, because it eases the burden of responsibility on the mother. You know what, on second thought, maybe it is about praise. Maybe we can turn praise into encouragement for the whole family. We want more fathers to feel like child rearing is something they are capable of doing; that it is something praiseworthy, just like getting a nice job or winning a tournament. Qualities such as empathy, kindness, patience, love and compassion are not exclusive to women, and fathers are more than capable of expressing them with the right encouragement. So when you see a family out with their young children, try and praise the whole family and not just the father for being there. It should be a team effort and without him the team is not really complete.

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Published July 21, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated July 20, 2016 at 9:11 pm)

Take time to praise the parenting team

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