The world, so it seems, recognizes, reveres and instinctively knows the importance a mother plays in her child's life. A father's role is not nearly as well defined or recognized. For far too many years he was seen as the family provider and protector while mothers played the role of nurturer and caregiver. However, times have changed! Perhaps it's because there are more women in the work force or maybe we have just become more open minded; whatever the reason we find ourselves taking a closer look at all of our roles, responsibilities and our place within the family. And now finally, Papa is also getting some recognition for the important role he plays in the growth, development and well being of his children.

Think for a minute about how we play with children. Fathers seem to naturally play one-on-one when they engage their child and their play is rougher and more physical in nature. This helps develop large motor skills and helps a child learn what their body can do and where it is in a spatial sense. This is also great training as they learn to regulate their emotions when engaging in impulsive or sudden physical contact.

Fathers encourage and even challenge their children to try new things. They tend to push a child to try harder if the task is difficult and doing so helps the little ones develop self-esteem. By facing new challenges and learning to overcome them, children start to believe in their own ability and become more willing to try new things.

Fathers also tend to be quicker to give their children new responsibilities. They encourage them to bathe themself, pay for an item at the store or even feed the family pet. These responsibilities improve thinking skills and encourage them to take responsibility for their own actions. These early feelings of ‘duty’ allow children to internalize their successes and failures instead of attributing them to others.

Children are little sponges. They watch and listen even when we aren’t aware they are doing so and then they imitate! How many times have you seen or heard your child say or do something in the exact same manner you do? Keep that in mind and try to model the behaviors you want to see in your child.

Our advice to all the Papas - you've got this! Keep doing what you naturally do and work to build a solid relationship with your children. They want and need you as much as you want and need them and establishing a solid base at an early age will last you both a lifetime!