In marital love touch is fundamental, thus it can be no surprise that the earliest touch experienced by a child affects all dimensions of his future life. Common sense and a knowledge of nature’s ways (God’s way of doing things), and in modern times, very explicit in research (see this week’s findings below), show the immense beneficial effects of breastfeeding for both mother and child and the impact of her attachment to her child. But, now coming to the fore is the importance of father’s ‘behind the scenes’ role in arranging greater ease for mother in her care of their newborn. The right sort of support from him adds immensely to the wellbeing of both mother and child.
It is not surprising, though likely not widely practiced, that the father’s touch also has beneficial effects: fathers who had 15 mins of skin-to- skin contact with their newborns, daily for the first few days, became much more attached to them than fathers who did not hold them that way.
The father’s interaction with his child during the first early years also has a significant impact on the child’s brain development and cognitive development — the more interaction the greater the cognitive development. Better still, when the father is less controlling (e.g. when the father follows the child in play rather than trying to get the child to follow him) the child’s cognitive development is even greater.
This “supportive without controlling” approach by father also holds in his effects on his wife’s breastfeeding of their child: she will breastfeed better and more efficiently (often needing less time) when her husband is supportive without being intrusive. As the authors put it, the more the couple is a team as in tennis doubles or beach volleyball — independently competent but very responsive to the needs of the other — the more everyone thrives.
This “complementarity of the sexes” is the framework of male and female differences that the world needs, rather than APA’s toxic masculinity approach. What husband does not want to give effective (rather than ineffective) support to his wife? What mother does not want such complementary support from her husband? But, as the saying goes, “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”: Men, also, have no doubt that the non-intrusive support and encouragement of a wife makes them much more effective and efficient. Complementary support yields a much more happier couple. When individual competence is dedicated to the service of the other, all thrive.
Given the dominance of a feminist mindset in so many walks of life today in the academy, the workplace, and in law, coupled with the increasing failure of males, especially in academic performance (which decreases their ability to support a wife and child later in life), it is time to shift from “feminist” to “complementarity”. Moderate feminists have nothing to fear and everything to gain: the benefits for women are greater — for the pattern holds across myriad outcomes of family life — without its being at the radical feminist price of harming men.
Getting to such complementarity in marriage will always be a struggle (though less so when both husband and wife have been raised in such “complementarity families”); hence the great importance of mindsets transmitted in school curricula. The birth of the first child is the first big test in marriage, when the attachment of the mother to their newborn child requires her husband to take second place by supporting his wife’s much more important role because of its much more powerful impact on their child’s development.
For the good of the child,
The future of America,
Pat Fagan Ph.D.