Do you spend enough Man Time with your little man? How important is daddy and boy time in your house?
When we think of man time, there is a tiny firecracker that pops inside our mind. Kaboom! We think hiking trips, hunting, rugby, fast cars or beer. Just thinking about it makes you want to clear your throat and spit sideways at something. It’s an instinctive, semi-primitive response. In fact, they describe man time as being with other men (no sissys or douchebags,) and doing things that real men do.
What if man time, in the paternal sense of the phrase, simply means intimate daddy and boy time?
In other words: no inflated egos, no machismo, no reluctance to engage, just father-son time. This is not a blatant testosterone boost for those dads who are dealing with other insecurities. It is a tender realization that your boy will need some special time alone with his daddy. And when I say intimate time, I mean those moments where you can feel his warmth next to you as you are sitting watching the sunset on the beach, or when he falls asleep on your chest.
There has been loads of studies done on the Father Effect, a term used to describe the importance and benefits of paternal presence. Scanning through all the scientific findings reveals that there is that added benefit closeness with your boy.
I first encountered a need for this type of alone time when our toddler began waking up screaming at night. We did the process of elimination and couldn’t get the problem. So, I decided to take him alone for a couple of nights to get a clearer picture of what was going on. The first night he woke up screaming, turned around to see me, pushed himself deep into my chest and pulled my arm closer to his body. That was it. No more screaming. Sounds too good to be true, but that was all he needed, even at that young age.
But why do some dads dread alone time with their boys?
There are many reasons. It could be because of a fear that the soft squishy centre hiding inside their chests might be perceived as a weakness. Maybe it is because of a poor father-son relationship growing up.
First off, if you feel you had a poor example of a father figure as a child, and it still sits with you like a stone inside your boot, then you need to go see someone. You might be able to push through these past pains without having children, but once you have your own boy, you need to face this thing head on. Studies have shown that this scenario leads to father absence, also referred to as father hunger. Go see a specialist, get closure and get back to your family. They need you. Your boy needs you!
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It is true that when many fathers meet their children in hospital, they do not experience the same emotional high everyone else is feeling. The paternal bond has already been shown to be slower than the maternal bond. But even over the next couple of months, they still experience this sense of indifference about the screaming lump of flesh clutching onto their finger. This is called paternal detachment. The good news is, this feeling usually disappears and is replaced by a growing emotional attachment to your child. Hang in there, bro!
However, if you think holding your son’s hand, kissing his forehead, praying together, or just nipping his chubby cheek and pulling a funny face, is too much of a stretch for your view on paternal bonding, then you are doing your son, and yourself, a grave injustice. This is what being a real man, and a real dad, is all about. Best advice here is, pick a dad who you really want to be like, someone you don’t know at all. Spend some time with him. Do whatever you have to do.
James Fouche is an author, travel writer, entrepreneur and silly daddy of three. He also writes about parenting and wine, whenever his kids allow him to.