The wonderful joy of becoming a first-time dad

The growth, development, and nourishment of today's kids are mostly dependent on their fathers.Picture: Pexels

The growth, development, and nourishment of today's kids are mostly dependent on their fathers.Picture: Pexels

Published Oct 3, 2023


In the past, women have been the subject of more research than fathers. And mothers have always been seen as the main carers for kids, while fathers have traditionally been seen as playmates.

However, gender roles have become more equitable over time in many nations, and current research indicates that dads play a significant role in many aspects of a child's development.

Like mothers, fathers play a crucial role in a child's emotional growth. Being a dad takes a lifetime, yet anyone can father a child.

Every child's father fills a unique function in their life that cannot be filled by anyone else. A child's experience with their father can have a significant impact on them and help mould them into the people they become.

Finding out you're going to be a parent is a life-changing event, whether you're still processing the news or have been anticipating it for years. Even though you have always wanted this, it's common to experience a range of emotions, from utter excitement to stark horror. Being here and now is the only thing that matters.

According to recent studies, fathers have a significant influence on their kids' play, exercise, and diet.

The active and ongoing involvement of fathers in a child's life has been connected to better outcomes, like increased mental health, physical growth, and cognitive development, according to a study named ‘’The Role of Fathers in Child and Family Health’’, done by Yogman, et. al (2022).

In a South African setting, Swartz & Bhana, 2009, highlight how contemporary fathers lament not knowing their own fathers and acknowledge the absence of knowledge and direction regarding parenthood and duty.

However, according to Anne-Marie De Beer, Nutrition, Health and Wellness manager, Nestlé East and Southern Africa Region (ESAR), writing for The Growing Parent, a resource for parents and carers of children between the ages of 3 and 5 years, significant socio-economic and cultural advancements have given contemporary fathers the opportunity to be more involved in their children's education, nutrition, wellness, and healthcare.

As a result, there is a balanced viewpoint on child-related issues in the home.

The relationship between fathers and wholesome, healthy behaviour among children aged 3 to 5, are listed below:

A window of opportunity exists in early life to mould a variety of habits, including dietary ones. Fathers can play four important roles in the lives of their children and in developing them, culturally.

Dad, as the protector.

Actively involved fathers give their kids a sense of protection, whether it be psychological, physical, or emotional, claims a Michigan State University report.

Children are more likely to explore and play when they feel safe, which helps them become more adept at expressing their preferences and desires.

Families should eat together at a table because these conversations frequently take place there.

Dad, as the educator.

A warm bowl of mealie meal porridge or motoho wa mabele (sorghum) with some milk and/or peanut butter to fuel them for a busy day would be a typical South African breakfast for a preschooler.

Dad may set a positive example for his children by eating the same meal with them.

Children may be drawn in by the appealing ads and bright packaging for instant sugary cereals, but an active father's ability to instil better eating habits is something the child will likely continue to do well into adulthood.

The same is true for their lunch box; by including nutrient-rich veggies in their lunch box, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, etc., you can ensure that the preschooler has a healthy diet.

Again, there is a very significant chance that the kids will do like their father does.

Dad, as the custodian of the family history.

Preschool may be the first opportunity for young children to interact with peers or teachers from other cultural backgrounds.

Building up your child's comprehension and acceptance of new information is a terrific method to increase their feeling of inquiry and curiosity about others.

This is a great way to gauge important developmental milestones. In the majority of traditional South African communities, fathers are primarily in charge of educating their family about cultural traditions and practices.

Fathers of today have the opportunity to teach their children about their own culture and heritage, strengthening their sense of identity and belonging.

Dad, as the entertainer.

There is room for the monkey see, monkey do cliché when you are your child's source of enjoyment and astonishment.

Children aged 3 to 5 struggle to determine whether the behaviour they mimic are appropriate or socially acceptable because they lack complex criteria for evaluating behaviours in varied contexts.

Many adults who are currently raising young children as fathers had little access to technology growing up and spent most of their time outside playing traditional games like diketo or morabaraba.

Introducing their kids to activities from their own childhood is another fantastic approach for men to get their kids enthused about the outdoors.

With the youngster being exposed to new activities that may challenge and delight them, this offers an opportunity for bonding via a shared experience.

Fathers of today must strike a balance between selflessness, alertness, sensitivity, and busy schedules while finding time for their families and themselves.

Even if it might not be simple, there are no words to describe how rewarding it is to raise a confident, well-balanced child.