Real Men Play With Dolls

What’s manlier than a husband who loves watching football on Sundays? A man who’s not afraid to roll up his sleeves for an afternoon of playing with dolls!

That’s the message from an adorable new campaign by Mattel. The #DadsWhoPlayBarbie ads debuted during the NFL Playoffs. They show manly men describing their love of football and then sharing their secret: they also love to play Barbies with their daughters.

Let’s take a moment to celebrate these dads! Whether it’s  dressing up Barbies, doing arts and crafts or anything else, spending time with Dad can play a huge factor in a child’s life. Studies have shown a dad’s presence in a baby’s life can benefit areas including emotional security, social skills, problem solving and academic performance.

But if Barbies aren’t your thing, there are many more ways for dads to bond with their kids.

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Crack a Book

You don’t even need to wait for the baby to be born for this one! There are several great books designed for future dads to read to future moms’ bellies. It doesn’t matter what you read to a baby inside or outside of the womb. What matters is that you’re exposing the baby to your voice. You could read the newspaper or an online product review. Of course, once the baby starts understanding words, you may want to switch to a more traditional children’s book.

Be a Goofball

Moms may cringe when they see dads tossing their little ones in the air or hanging them by their ankles, but a father’s goofball antics can actually be very important to child’s development. By roughhousing with your kids, you’re helping them with physical development, coordination and also teaching them the boundaries of healthy risk-taking.

Start Gabbing

This may be the easiest way to bond with your baby, but dads aren’t doing it! A fascinating study recorded moms & dads’ interaction with their kiddos at home. It found when a toddler made noise, moms responded to them about 90% of the time. Dads, on the other hand, only talked back about 30% of the time. It’s important for a child’s language development to hear from both parents. So, get chatty!

Take a Hike

It doesn’t matter how old your little one is, a walk is always a fun bonding experience. You can take a baby in a stroller; you can take a toddler in a wagon; older kids can either hoof it or ride a bike. Not to mention the added benefits of getting a little fresh air and exercise.

“Any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a Dad.” -Anne Geddes

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Fighting Like Brothers & Sisters: Dealing with Sibling Rivalry

Brotherly love isn’t exactly what you’d call what’s going on between Ben and Casey Affleck these days. Younger brother Casey won a Golden Globe and failed to thank his big bro in his acceptance speech. And Ben’s not letting it go, airing Casey’s secrets on late night TV. The feud seems to be in good fun, but we parents know all too well, sibling rivalry can be the source of a lot of frustration for the whole family.

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Sibling rivalry can start even before the second child is born. Even during pregnancy, parents start discussing and planning for the baby’s arrival. The older child, who is used to being the only apple of the parents’ eye, suddenly finds him or herself having to share time and attention. It’s only natural that conflicts arise, but there are some ways parents can weather sibling storms:

 

Don’t Play Favorites

Of course you love both of your children, and parents should make that crystal clear to their kids. Each kid is unique, and parents shouldn’t compare them to each other. Saying things like, “Why can’t you clean your room like Johnny?” only intensifies bad feelings between siblings. Each of your children is special in his or her own way and that should be celebrated instead of used against the other child.

 

Change Your Routine

If you find you’re having the same problems over and over, it may be time for a change. Perhaps the kids are always going to battle right before dinner or bedtime. Being hungry or tired can add extra stress on kids (and parents!) and can intensify sibling rivalry. If you’re noticing a pattern, try giving them an additional healthy snack or moving bedtime up by a half-hour.

 

Set Aside One-on-One Time

Make it a priority to get some uninterrupted alone time with each of your kids. You don’t have to block out a full afternoon (although that’s a good idea every once in awhile); even a few minutes a day with your child can mean the world to him or her. Don’t stress over doing anything out of the ordinary – time set aside for talking or playing will help reinforce to each child that they are loved for who they are.

 

Keep The Future In Mind

As parents, we walk a fine line with siblings of when to intervene and when to let the kiddos duke it out for themselves. When you can, try to let the kids work out issues on their own; it’s a valuable skill that will serve them well as they grow up. However, oftentimes, it’s an unfair fight because of the age gap. If the battle is getting physical or if the yelling is reaching a decibel that’s painful to everyone in the house, it may be time to step in. Parents can be good role models and help resolve issues in a way that’s calm and fair to everyone.

 

Don’t be alarmed if your kids go from best friends to worst enemies at the drop of a hat. That is perfectly natural. It may not seem like it now, but all of those sibling battles will be in the rearview mirror one day. Well, until one of the kids wins a Golden Globe…