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Sunday, March 26, 2023

How Fathers Are Changing Today: Able to Support Mothers and “Mediators” in the Family

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They are more involved in the management of their children, not only in terms of “practical” support, but also from an emotional point of view, playing an important role as a filter between the mother-child dyad and the outside world. A pilot study conducted by almed (High School in Media, Communication and Entertainment) of the Catholic University of Milan (as part of the Health Communication Monitor and Opinion Leader 4 Future projects) featured the “domestic” role of today’s fathers able, more than before, “to support the mother psychologically, to be a family glue – especially with the other children – but also to bring balance within the family, to implement a mediating role between the public and private dimensions,” explains Maria Grazia Fanchi, director of Almed.

A “filter” for the external stimuli that reach new mothers

They also have the task of filtering out the many external stimuli that reach the new mother. «The domestic space in the perinatal period is highly “mediatised”. A mother at home with her baby is just physically hyper-connected, overwhelmed by messages and information that often add to her confusion and fear of failure. And it is here that the role of the father is crucial: in support mother emotionally and by helping her tune in to the outside world,” Fanchi points out. If today’s fathers are much more involved than they used to be, “they’re still struggling to make that leap that would allow them to really position themselves as a point of reference for the child,” said Chiara Ionio, a professor of developmental and child psychology. education Catholic University of Milan.

Cultural obstacles and acrobatics

“The fathers, especially in the baby’s first year of life, they delegate a lot to the mother both for physiological reasons and because they are not yet in the “relationship” area (the playing area) where they feel more competent. While progress has been made with regard to gender equality, there have been some in the area of ​​concern dimensions, especially the “care”, which fathers still find difficult to consider as their own, even if they had all the skills and qualities. There is still a cultural obstacle that influences their approach to the child: they are more helpers than equal “carers”. It’s like they’re afraid to get really involved,” says Ionio.

The father figure during early childhood, especially pre-adolescence and adolescence, has the role of bringing the outside world into the domestic nest and promote, over time, the separation between mother and child. «The more they enter into a relationship with the baby from birth, the more effective their job is to bring “the world” into their homes, provided they manage to find a balance with their partner».

Parents poorly organized in terms of “care”

«Now mothers are also bearers of outside experiences thanks to work, for example. AND
D it is at this level that couples have to find a balance: between caring and professional tasks. But while today’s parents have organized themselves on the work front, the delegation of “care” is still too unbalanced towards mothers, and this creates tensions,” explains Ionio, who continues.

«Parents must develop an educational method that is unitary, a co-parentingessential for the well-being and development of the child. It means knowing how to support yourself in your choices and, with regard to key educational decisions, a open comparison in order to decide together and to be on the same wavelength as much as possible».

No to authoritarian fathers, yes to rules

However, now that the days of authoritarian fathers are over, we shouldn’t fall into the mistake of favoring friendship models. «The father must bring the rules, the norms, the authority, of course shared with the mother. If this does not happen, the child will feel lost, fear may appear in him. Parents should be seen as the banks of a river. The more the child grows (the river gets bigger), the more the banks must support him, restrain him, but without limiting him. Then, when the river overflows (as happens in puberty), the banks have the task of rearranging themselves to continue their role as seals, only in this way will the river reach the sea,” explains Ionio.

Better informed but less experienced parents

Today’s parents are moving in a complex, very fast-paced and hyper-stimulated scenario, and this makes them more vulnerable. «If on the one hand they are better informed, on the other hand they have less experience in the fieldespecially in the context of the relationship and this generates stress. Today’s fathers need to regain their regulatory role, but also that they, along with their partner, have an increasingly less child-centered approachwhich means “being there” but also thinking about your needs, let the children experience frustrations and get used to the “no”. Only in this way will they help them find the means to cope with life’s small or big difficulties and will we have more serene children, adolescents and adults », concludes the expert.

Know how to handle conflict

«The image of a beautiful and conflict-free parenting clashes with reality, so much so that we are dealing with the most “screaming” generation of parents that has ever existed. The processes of emotional identification with the children, or even those of substitution (which lead mothers and fathers to “do” instead of the offspring) are based on the narcissistic assumption of being pleasant and creating a comfortable situation, which is not possible is. We have to stake, set rules and at this level fathers are fundamental. Especially from the age of 11-12, there should be an educational convergence towards the father, which means that we should focus on the “fatherly function” represented by the reference to the rules, by the drive to face new challenges with courage but also the opportunity to help the children develop skills and try new discoveries,” he explains Daniel Novara pedagogue, supervisor and director of the Psycho-Pedagogical Center for Education and Conflict Management (CPP).

Source: Corriere

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