University of Illinois Extension
Skipnavigation Nibbles ... Ideas for Families

Kids & Food
Help Your Child Succeed
Your Child's Health
Challenges of Parenting
Learning to Get Along
Playtime Is Fun Time
The Day Care Routine

Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker ... Fathers

Many workers, men and women alike, are prisoners to their work schedules. If they are on a professional ladder, the choice may be seen as one of climbing that ladder or getting off. Other workers must face the constraints of a changing workshift, mandatory overtime requirements, and a seniority system.

With increasing numbers of mothers now in the workforce, more home responsibilities need to be absorbed by fathers. Feedback at the worksite often serves to support men's traditional roles and to discourage expanding roles to include parenting, family, and household responsibilities.

Before the Industrial Revolution, many fathers worked at home on the farm, and were with their children every day. Families didn't experience the "absence" of father, which occurred when men began to work away from home.

Today's families need fathers who are actively involved parents and partners. They need fathers who will take deliberate and ongoing steps to warm close relationships with their children.

Fathers Learn by Effective Listening

Taking time to listen and to encourage self-expression helps maintain good communication between fathers and their children. Listening gives fathers the chance to understand better how children's thinking abilities and ideas are changing and progressing.

The following tips will help you to listen more effectively to your child:

  • Be interested and attentive. Children can tell if they have your attention by the way you do or do not reply. Showing interest in children and their activities encourages children to express their feelings.
  • Encourage talking about experiences. Children are more likely to share their ideas and feelings when others think them important.
  • Listen patiently. Hurrying children or calling attention to their use of a wrong word while they are talking upsets and confuses them.
  • Hear children out. Avoid cutting children off before they have finished speaking. By letting children develop their ideas fully, parents also gain valuable insight into children's understanding and abilities to reason.
  • Reflect children's feelings. One of the most important skills of a good listener is the ability to put oneself in another's shoes, and to imagine what they are experiencing apart from your own thought and feelings. Children often feel more understood when parents accept and recognize children's feelings as real.
Source: "Working Families" Summer 1991 Newsletter