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Harvey Karp

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Why All Dads Deserve To Be Applauded

Posted: 06/15/2012 4:58 pm

Father's Day is more than just a day to make Dad heart-shaped pancakes or serve him his favorite spicy nachos and a beer while he watches his favorite team on TV... uninterrupted. It's also the perfect day to applaud Dads for the super-sized burdens we shoulder in today's busy world.

The past few decades have seen tectonic shifts in parental roles. Moms, obviously, are no longer "just" homemakers (as if that wasn't a huge job in itself). Today, moms are joint earners, financial planners, superintendents of the family social network, etc. But, dad roles have also expanded.

A 2010 University of Michigan study reported that in the 1970s dads spent about one-third as much time directly engaged with their kids as the average mom. That grew to 43% as much "kid time" as moms in the 1990's and now dads spend 65% as much time as moms on weekdays and 87% as much time on weekends.

More than ever before, dads are the stay-at-home parent and are way more involved in everything family related from scheduling doctor appointments to play dates. In fact, dads are getting so much better at developing our "female side" studies show that we even develop post-partum depression. And, it's no wonder why: we suddenly have a whole new series of financial responsibilities; most spare time is spent with baby or for baby; intimacy/sex may seemlike a distant memory; and, of course, we're moderately to majorly exhausted.

One aspect of my work that makes me proudest is that dads who learn the 5 S's often earn the crown as best baby calmer in the family. (And, it makes them super-proud of themselves ... and they fall even more in love with their babies.)

There's something inherent in "dad-brain" that helps us be super-good swaddlers (it's like an engineering job) and our arms are longer/stronger (so it's easier for us to do the football hold) and dads are usually more willing to shush loudly (which is the key for flipping on the calming reflex and soothing fussy babies... even those with colic.)

A friend in Boise told me the story of a dad who was playing in his weekly softball game (his wife and young baby were in the stands), when -- out of the blue -- the air was pierced by his baby's wails. This dad immediately called for a time out, trotted from third base to the stands, swaddled and calmed his baby in under a minute, and then ran back to continue the game. Needless to say, the crowd erupted in applause.

And, dads who feel confident in baby care are much more supportive of breastfeeding, which is a critically important predictor of a woman's breastfeeding success (and in her avoiding postpartum depression).

Clearly dads deserve our appreciation -- if not standing ovations -- every day, not just on Father's Day.

And, If you are still looking for a last minute Father's Day gift (besides the standing ovation and pancakes), I invite you to kidnap him and come to a very special Parent's Night Out On Thursday, June 21st. I'm giving a one-night event in over 600 movie theaters nationwide to share some amazing secrets for happy babies, happy toddlers... and lots of of new ideas from my new book, "The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep: Birth to Five." My host for the night will be the vivacious Ali Landry (mom of two, actress, founder of spokesmom.com and former Miss USA). For lot's more info and to find a movie theater near you click on The Happiest Baby.

An hour or two more sleep -- every night -- might just be a present the Dad in your life would prefer... even more than a new striped tie.

 
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