Parenthood - balance imbalances!
In Denmark, today is Father’s Day. It’s also Constitutional Day. And speaking of the law, new legislation has been passed on maternity/paternity leave. Without going into the nitty gritty of this new statute, it means that for all babies born on or after 2nd August 2022, cohabiting parents, with certain exceptions, will share 48 weeks of leave with “barselsdagpenge” (paid leave) to be equally divided between them.
For expat families, it’s not unusual that one parent is the main breadwinner; often, this is the father meaning that he doesn’t have opportunity to spend as much time and bond with his child(ren) as their other parent. As a consequence of this, many fathers are, rightly, concerned that their child(ren) will develop a stronger and deeper emotional bond with their mother.
So how do you nurture a close bond with your child(ren)?
Below, you will find a few tips on how to grow and maintain a close relationship with your child(ren):
Firstly, have a conversation with their other parent about how to best support each of you being an available and present parent.
During the week, make sure you allocate some alone time to be spend with your child(ren):
It can be playing/talking with them upon returning from work
Tidying up from dinner
Tucking them in at night, reading them bedtime stories
Develop special rituals with your children: Go to local sporting events, walk the dog, do the Saturday morning shopping.
Take them to the playground, teach them gardening, take them fishing or to visit the newest photo exhibition - whatever rocks your boat. If you start early enough, your child(ren) won’t mind the activity, but will love being let into your world.
Have a special, age appropriate, non-digital game you always play.
Tell them stories from your own childhood. My adult children still love it when my dad tells them of his mischeifs from his younger years.
Be aware that it shouldn't always be the same parent comforting them or helping them solve their problems.
Take part in parent-teacher-consultations, medical appointments and the like. Refrain from seeing those as practicalities; but view them as opportunities to be part of your child(ren)'s life and to show them an interest. Your children will feel cared for and appreciate you prioritising them.
Be emotionally available: Remember, what seems insignificant to you, might seem huge to them – if you listen to the small stuff, they will trust you with the big stuff when they become older.
Shower your child(ren) will hugs, kisses and love.
Work through any childhood traumas you might have. Big or small, it doesn't matter; if unresolved, you risk passing them onto your children.
Children need two parents in their life. Many dads describe feeling inferior to their wives when it comes to bonding with, supporting and raising children; but truth of the matter is, that dads can do just as great a job as the mums. Allow yourself the pleasure of becoming close with your children. They will love you for it – and you will love them, and yourself, for it!
And lastly, be mindful, that it's never too late to nurture your relationship with your child(ren).
I hope you will have a special Father’s Day with your child(ren) – remember that it can be Father’s Day every single day!
If you need my help with bonding with your children or any concerns you might have over fatherhood or your expat children, feel free to contact me on 0045 5188 6187 or firstname.lastname@example.org to hear how I can help you.