Recent research shows that the type of play associated with the role of the father is critical to the overall development of the child. Imagine a child playing with their parents. The parent chases the child and playfully grabs it, and they wrestle on the ground with laughter. Did you represent mom or dad? Culturally, we tend to associate certain parental roles and behaviors with certain genders. But is there a difference in how moms and dads play with their kids? What are the implications of this? And will it always be like this?
Unlike many studies on parenting, there has been little research on parenting. Although this is changing as dads tend to be more involved in their children’s development these days than they were in the past. A recent review of research on fathers, children and their play has shed some light on what we know so far. A survey by the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge and the LEGO Foundation found that most fathers play with their children every day. Moreover, when their working hours are taken into account, mothers and fathers spend roughly the same amount of play time with their children.
Generally, the researchers noticed that dads played more with their children as they grew from babies to toddlers. Then the playing time decreased again when they reached middle childhood – around the age of 8-13. This does not necessarily mean that the relationship is deteriorating at this time. If you’re a father, this might just be an interesting thing to think about. How has the time you spent with your children changed as they grew up? Perhaps the type of your joint activities has changed.