Where does Dad fit into the picture

Dr Melodie de Jager – Author of Play Learn Know – Metz Press & Brain development milestones & learning – Mind Moves Institute.


Mom is a baby’s anchor – a place of safety. Mom soothes. Dad is different – he smells different, his body feels different and his voice sounds different. To a new-born baby dad represents the whole world. Because novelty is stimulating a dad is responsible for the development of new wiring in baby’s brain. An involved dad is said to increase a child’s IQ and sense of humour, attention span, attitude to learning, while a mom’s love is expected, a child often feels he has to earn his dad’s love.

Mom’s role – to soothe baby and develop the emotional brain.

Dad’s role – to develop baby’s thinking brain.

Dad is not a stand-in mother. He is the protector who keeps everybody safe. His role is different, but not less crucial.

Dad’s relationship with mom is important because mom can only spontaneously go into labour, breast feed and care for baby if she is feeling safe and cared for. Mom’s stress levels can delay birth and unconsciously wire baby’s brain to be a bundle of stress. Research has shown that continued exposure to stress during pregnancy contributes largely to hyperactivity and problems with concentration later.

Dad is a boy’s role model. A child mimics what dad does, not what he says.

Dad is a girl’s first love. Dad shapes her mind about men.

Dad’s play rough and tumble, which is excellent for gross motor development and balance. Doing BabyGym is a wonderful way for dad to develop the mechanics of his baby’s brain and body www.babygym.co.za. His expectations must be realistic – it is great to play games that is at a challenge level, be aware of not pushing too hard too soon resulting in a frustration level for both. Dad-at-play enriches a child’s self-esteem and confidence and starts when dad puts his new-born baby skin on skin on his chest.

If dad is an absent dad, it is important that a baby and later a child is exposed to an important and consistent male figure. The consistent presence of the important-other-male is of value, so a boy and a girl can learn about men.

Story time with dad is super special. It’s not just the story. The feel of his big, strong body against a child’s small frame; his man-smell, his deep voice and his big hands that hold the book all say: you are safe with me, I’ve got your back covered.

Two Wolves
 One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said:  My son, the battle is between 2 ‘wolves’ inside us all. One is Evil.  It is full of anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego. The other is Good.  It is filled with joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.” The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather:  “Which wolf wins?” The old Cherokee simply replied:  “The one you feed.”

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