"Dad just makes him laugh," Mom reports. And sure enough...the boy bursts out in a big smile when his tall, athletic dad swoops down to pick him up. Mom beams as she watches "her favorite men" enjoy one another. Though born a few weeks early, Noah is now a vigorous, all-ready-for-life nine-month-old!
Noah's situation is especially special. Dad is a work-at-home dad and is the primary daytime caregiver for this energetic, rambunctious fellow. This family is already demonstrating some of the positive impacts of a dad at home with his baby. I savor the energy, love, and joy of being in the same room with this young family.
As Mom, Dad, and I laugh at Noah's funny efforts to get his dad's attention, I'm inspired to share with these parents recent research which looks at the impact of a father's regular, caregiving involovement with his baby.
Work by Dr. Kyle Pruett is especially salient in elucidating this remarkable impact. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyle_Pruett] A ten-year study shows that children who have been cared for primarily by fathers are active, vigorous, robust, and thriving. They function above normal, particularly in areas of problem solving and social adaptation. These kids are attracted to stimulation and are eager to engage with the world around them. They also expect their intense, curious, and sometimes challenging behavior to be tolerated by adults. Earlier studies showed that such babies performed better on developmental tests and were more resilient in the face of stressful life situations.
As expected, Noah cries after his nine-month-old shots. Mom scoops him up with a tender and loving embrace while I hear Dad say, "Oh, big man, be tough. You're ok!" After a hug and a kiss from Mom, Noah reaches out to his dad, who tosses him halfway to the ceiling. Noak cackles with glee. His mom and I can't help but cackle too! [see "Moms and Dads Can Be Really Different!" - blog on January 21, 2008]