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Appreciating Fathers and the Importance of Play

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Playing with Dad is Good for the Whole Family… With Father’s Day approaching, all eyes turn to dad and the important role he plays in his children’s lives. Fathers’ roles have evolved a lot over the past couple of decades, but despite more modern, blurrier parenting roles, the way dads parent and interact with their children is different; not better or worse, but different.

The Goddard School for Early Childhood Development characterizes it this way, “Time with dad is typically less structured and more play-oriented than with mom. Most of mother’s time with her children is dedicated to care-giving tasks or educational play, while dad’s time is less structured and full of impromptu play. Where mom uses toys, dad tends to use his body. Dads are typically more physical with the kids and they love it. Physical play helps to stimulate both physical and brain development.”

My husband enjoys his time with his friends most when they are doing something active together. It could be a bike ride, a wine tasting trip, skiing, a boating outing, surfing or a round of golf. The activity does not seem to matter so much as the fact that it involves action and getting away from normal life for a brief period of time. Though he does not hate it and will certainly tolerate it for others’ enjoyment, a brunch in a nice restaurant or hotel is NOT his cup of tea.

Father’s Day is about spending quality time with Dad and letting him know how appreciated he is. What better way to do this than by joining Dad in an activity he would actually enjoy? Shared adventures create memories and build skills. Who can forget the first time they caught a fish? Stood up on a surfboard? Or reached the peak of a mountain? Dad wants to be a part of those moments and Dad wants those moments for his own enjoyment. Who can blame him?

At our house this year, there will be no artfully wrapped barbeque equipment, soap on a ropes, or new ties. There could, however, be a fierce barbeque cook-off contest, soap on a rope shot put Olympics on the lawn, and tying a tie lessons. This Father’s Day is going to be about the beauty of Dad in action. Now that I am finally past the terror of watching my husband swinging my toddlers around by their ankles and throwing them in the air (and, yes, my children LOVED it and, no, they were never hurt…) I can see the beauty and wisdom behind Dad-play. This Father’s Day we are all going to play in honor of Dad and the fun, adventurous spirit he brings into our lives.

[AUTHOR: Hilary Doubleday]

June 9, 2015

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