Men can differ greatly from women in how they parent, especially during playtime.
Fathers tend to think of themselves as less cautious than mothers, says Asst. Prof. Mariana Brussoni, lead investigator of the University of British Columbia study, Fathering and Injury Prevention.
“Many dads consider it their job to encourage their children to extend their capacity to climb, run, jump and engage in other physical ways.”
However, research on father’s attitudes towards supervision and child injury prevention has lagged behind that done with mothers,” says Brussoni, who holds joint appointments with UBC’s Dept. of Pediatrics and the Child & Family Research Institute.
She says that studies indicate young children are most often injured when they are being inadequately supervised. “A big part of our study is helping fathers find ways to keep kids both active and safe.”
Brussoni and her team are gathering data about fathers’ perspectives on preventing children’s injuries while helping children experience challenging and potentially risky physical activities. They have interviewed fathers living in Metro Vancouver and are now interviewing fathers and mothers of young children in B.C. and Québec. They are comparing fathers’ and mothers’ views on these issues. Their three-year study aims to provide evidence-based recommendations for community and parenting programs that are relevant to mothers and fathers.
Findings so far show that many dads are willing to risk their children incurring a minor injury if it means they can benefit from learning a new skill or building self esteem, says Brussoni. “They recognize the need to challenge their children to take on activities that could at first appear frightening.”
As pointed out by a study participant, the father of a seven-year old girl and a two-year-old boy: “If you’re trying to teach your kid how to ride a bike, but never let go of that seat, they’re never going to learn how to balance.”
The latest Statistics Canada research shows that fathers are more engaged in home life than ever before and play a central role in child rearing. In 68 per cent of Canadian dual parent families, both parents work and in those households fathers are doing more laundry, meal prep and cleaning. While the majority of stay-at-home parents are mothers, the numbers of Canadian dads who are home, full time, with the children is steadily rising: 60,000 in 2011, up from 20,000 in 1976.