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Podcast Series: Little Kids, Big Questions

on October 30, 2014

Zero To Three has an amazing podcast series called Little Kids, Big Questions. There are a number of issues tackled in this series, from the child’s emotional development, to the role of society and media in their lives.

One I listened to recently is titled: Daddy, Papi, Papa or Baba: The Influence of Father’s on Young
Children’s Development Featuring Kyle Pruett, M.D.

I found this one to be particularly insightful for parents with children under a year of age. Host Annie Pleshette Murphy speaks with Dr. Kyle Pruett on the role of fathers in their infants lives, from the physiological bonds to how they differ from mother’s in their reactive thought process to tantrums, melt-downs and everyday situations with infants and toddlers.

Here are some of the interesting take aways from the interview. I’m copy and pasting from the transcript which you can find at the Zero to Three website. My comments are in the parentheses following the statements.

  • But they father. And what that means is, umm, in general fathers are more likely to be physically activating of their children, uh, than mothers, umm, to whom they—they would be compared. (Women are more nurturing, holding the babies in a protective hold, whereas men hold their babies facing out.)
  • Mothers also tend to work with their children to avoid frustration. You’ll hear dads, uh, doing that a little less often in the service of helping their children manage frustration. (dad’s tend to step back and let the child figure out the frustration on their own, whereas moms are quick to jump in with solutions).
  • We have evidence that—that babies as young as six weeks of age are already responding to paternal versus maternal styles differently. (This I found particularly interesting. As early as 6 weeks, babies automatically relax when mom picks them up, but when dad picks them up, they perk up ready to play.)
  • And so what real co-parenting is—not about 50/50; You have to be led by what the child needs. (This is a very important distinction. Although we as parents try to split the responsibilities down the line, it’s not always so cut and dry. The child’s needs vary and its the parents job to communicate with each other as well as the child to figure out who needs to respond and how.)
  • what matters it seems is that they are engaged in a supportive parenting collaboration with the mother, and, umm, that they carry their children’s needs in them as an obligation. And when that happens, we watch children benefit, umm, behaviorally, educationally, and emotionally. (Pruett is referring to any father-figure (uncle, grandfather, etc). The last effects are children who are better problem solvers, more successful in school, put off having sex, are more emotional stable, stay in school longer and are more academically successful.)
  • but we are aware that the father’s vocabulary is a better predictor of verbal competence in young children than the mother’s.
    (I bolded this for emphasis. What a crazy finding. What an important finding.)

This quick podcast, only 26 minutes long, offers some insight into the role father’s play in helping shape their child’s life, often instinctively, not really aware of what is going on. I know much of this seemed so new and amazing to me, but when I sit back and think about my son’s relationship with my husband, so much of it rings true. Its good to be reminded of these little differences between moms and dads. Especially under the warning that dads are not employees. They are there to be a parent, not a sub-parent, which is a role many men are cast into because women seem to take the lead with dictating parenting methods and rules. Communication is a key component to everything for a happy marriage and happy family.

Pruett discusses more of this in-depth in his book, Partnership Parenting.

Partnership parenting : how men and women parent differently-- why it helps your kids and can strengthen your marriageWorldcat Summary: Men and women not only have naturally different communication styles, but unique approaches to parenting as well. While mothers tend to overprotect their kids, fathers tend to push them toward independence. And whereas many experts tend to advocate “a united front,” Drs. Kyle and Marsha Pruett reveal how Mom and Dad not always being on exactly the same page–which, initially, may seem to cause conflict–can actually strengthen the whole family. Informed by the Pruetts’ research and extensive experience with parents and children, Partnership Parenting offers a new outlook.

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