The Socializer Father
Striving to be social
At his best: The socializer dad enjoys people, is popular with other parents and his children's friends. He is friendly, sociable and enthusiastic about most things. He enjoys being a father and makes relationships with his and his children's friends, the family, and the community a priority. Well-organized, enthusiastic and resourceful, the socializer father often stands out as a "super dad", wholeheartedly involved in his children's activities and events, often more so than other dads. He works hard to ensure his children know how to get along with others and have the social skills to reflect his own standards.
He is involved, caring and empathetic, and capable of providing emotional support to his children and their friends. He places a high value on communication and encourages his children to express themselves freely.
Potential pitfalls: Because he enjoys coordinating and participating in events for his family, he doesn't understand it when his children don't want to join in. Socializer Dad can take this personally and will feel frustrated, annoyed, and hurt. He is not above making his children feel guilty for wanting to do their own thing and does not promote individualism. Because he believes in the importance of social status and relationships, he is embarrassed when his children don't behave with manners. He struggles to understand and accept a child who is different, especially introverted children. Instead of accepting differences in children and childlike behaviour, such as arguing and disobedience, he will demand conformity to his wishes, "flying off the handle," or use affection to control difficult situations.
Page 1 of 5 – Does your dad have an artistic streak or love to perform? Learn about the benefits and drawbacks of these types of dads on page 2.
The Performer Father
Striving to be recognized
At his best: The performer's need to be recognized is met by playing with his children.
They are his audience and he works hard to make sure they delight in the activities he makes up for them or takes them to. He also goes out of his way to help his children recognize their talents and provides opportunities for them to cultivate their gifts.
Disliking routine, he is always ready to drop what he's doing for an outing or new experience. He encourages individuality and gives his children space to develop self-sufficiency and confidence, letting them do their own thing and refraining from pigeonholing them. He wants to feel pride in his children and will brag to other parents about his kid's accomplishments, despite how minor they may be. He makes their lives magical with his charm and joy for life.
Potential pitfalls: The performer dad has difficulty when his kids don't match his energy and enthusiasm for his interests. Optimistic and upbeat, he can be horrified when his child is emotionally needy or clingy. He has a hard time doing homework with his kids if it is a subject that he doesn't enjoy. Impatient with details and schedules, he struggles to attend to mundane chores, preferring instead to play with his children. He will disappear into work if there is too much to deal with, leaving the children and the home care to his wife. This creates further conflict as he has to deal with the consequences of abandoning the family. He can find it difficult to be objective, decisive, and firm-minded, when appropriate and he is often indulgent and inconsistent with rules and structure.
The Artist Father
Striving to be creative
At his best: The artist dad's goal is to create perfect relationships with his children. He is devoted, accepting and gentle, often putting his children's needs and desires before his own. His "go with the flow" outlook means he will spend time playing with his children when they are young, and will find other ways to engage and interact with them as they get older. He pays close attention to his children's feelings, really listening, trying to understand, and respond appropriately. He is also comfortable sharing his own feelings with his children. He likes doing the little things that matter most to them. Unlike other father styles, this dad knows intuitively how to soothe his child's upset feelings by reassuring and encouraging. He helps them believe they can do anything they want and does not impose his will on them.
Potential pitfalls: This dad has no limits to what he will do for his children and struggles with giving too much. He finds disciplining his children extremely difficult and he can become uncharacteristically harsh, rigid and emotional when he has to do this. He can adopt a pseudo-macho approach to compensate for his sensitive nature, most likely when other fathers are present. This can leave his children occasionally wondering who he is. It is hard for him to assert himself with traditional authority figures, such as teachers and medical professionals. Organizing and keeping daily family routines can seem overwhelming. He is sporadic in his focus, tends to procrastinate and often feels unproductive.
Page 2 of 5 – Is Dad an intellectual? Discover what this could mean about your relationship on page 3.
The Adventurer Father
Striving to be spontaneous
At his best: The adventurer dad is filled with joy for living. He knows how to have fun and laugh with his children. This action-oriented father gets actively involved in what his children are doing. He doesn't just sign them up for sports; he goes out and tosses the football with them or coaches their football team. Easy going and straightforward, he is content to go with the flow and rarely loses his cool. In fact, he thrives on "chaos" and lives a no-strings-attached lifestyle. He is a whiz at creating fun, turning "boring" aspects of day-to-day living into interesting things to do with his children. While he may detest attending to routine or emotional aspects of child care, he will enjoy attending to the physical needs of his home and property as they arise, and is likely to have a lot of projects on the go in which he lets his kids participate.
Potential pitfalls: Extroverted and impulsive, this dad will ignore routines and upset his children's stability with his need for spontaneity. He has difficulty tolerating the quiet and slow times of family life and will look for distractions to get him out of the tedium.
He is far from being a disciplinarian, and sticking to rules is often harder for him than for his children. He can be impatient doing homework with children because of his own dislike of learning by rote and memorization. His competitive nature may affect the self-esteem of his children, particularly when sports or other physical activities are involved.
He is unaware of the emotional needs of his children and may get frustrated or ridicule them should they cry. He may even compete with his children to be the child, and demand to be taken care of.
The Intellectual Father
Striving to be knowledgeable
At his best: This dad meets his need to be knowledgeable by helping his children learn and know. He enjoys teaching and tries to instill a love of learning by finding ways to build on a child's natural curiosity. Prizing independence, he gives his children lots of space to develop on their own. While he may not always agree with them, he fundamentally believes his children have the right to their own points of view. He has high aspirations for their competence, yet he seldom pushes and is usually tolerant and calm, not highly critical of children's mistakes. He tends to follow their lead in what interests them, rather than trying to shape or control what or how they think. Not liking to be confined by rules or authority himself, he is intentionally "lenient" with his children so they can think situations through on their own and choose their actions.
Potential pitfalls: This dad is out of his element when it comes to giving children the emotional closeness they need. Handling the domestic side of child raising does not appeal to him, and he can easily become exhausted by children's non-stop chatter, constant activity, lack of self-control, and never-ending demands for his attention. When he is overwhelmed by the demands of his children, he withdraws inside himself, finding a way to escape from his feelings. He cares deeply but does not naturally show warmth and affection, know how to soothe a scared child, or figure out the emotional aspects of a child's behavior. His children may confuse his non-intrusive or introverted behavior as a lack of caring. When focused on reading, thinking, or work, his children may feel they can't access him and can feel intimidated by his intense focus.
Page 3 of 5 – Find out what qualities the Visionary Father and Stabilizer Father embodies on page 4.
The Visionary Father
Striving to be perceptive
At his best: The visionary dad follows the beat of his own drum and respects his children's individuality, encouraging them to think for themselves and act on their own beliefs. Because of his non-conformity and inner drive, he provides his children with a role model for a non-traditional man. He can dream up unusual, fun projects his children can do to occupy their time and enrich their day-to-day experience. He has high standards for himself and his children and is constantly encouraging self-awareness and self-improvement. He expects his children to stretch themselves, accept the challenges of life, and do their best despite obstacles along the way. Focused on understanding values, spirituality, culture, and society, he provides awareness and insights into life beyond a child's immediate experience and questions.
Potential pitfalls: Introverted and sensitive, the visionary dad is drained by the chaos and hullabaloo of raising children. He finds it difficult to relate to several children at once, preferring instead one-on-one time with each child. He can feel inadequate if he compares himself to more domestic or traditional fathers. He can try so hard to understand why he can't get his children to behave the way he wants them to that he fails to engage with them. He often has unrealistic expectations of himself and his children, and he is prone to overcorrecting and nitpicking perceived flaws in behavior. This can make his children feel as though they are not good enough and a disappointment to their father. He may also be prone to over-accommodation and self-sacrifice to make sure that everyone's needs are taken care of.
The Stabilizer Father
Striving to be secure
At his best: The stabilizer dad meets his need to be secure by tending to his children's basic needs for food, clothing and shelter. He maintains a secure environment by defining clear roles for parent and child, steady and consistent rules, and predictable routines. He believes children must ultimately be independent. His goal is to instill good study habits and show them "how to be organized" and make effective use of time. He views it as his responsibility to discuss the pros and cons of different ways people earn a living. He sets the standard for hard work, gives children "jobs" around the house, expects them to do their best at school, and insists they clean up after themselves. He strives to instill a strong work ethic and sense of social responsibility in his children.
Potential pitfalls: Considered to be the "traditional" image of the father, he expects his children to follow his orders. Private and inwardly focused, he gets drained by disorder and children's commotion. His need for predictability and structure makes the more out-of-control, emotional nature of young children intolerable. He may react by becoming more rigid and demanding. His sense of duty and work ethic causes him to put the needs of his children last. His children feel a lack of emotional connection and can doubt their father's feelings for them. When he doesn't get time to himself at the end of the day, he can become sullen and unresponsive. He rarely feels the need to explain himself or his behaviour, nor does he recognize the emotional needs of his children.
Page 4 of 5 – Is your father a natural leader? Find out what that could mean about you on page 5.
The Leader Father
Striving to have control
At his best: This dad is energetic and hard working, and he meets his need to have control by organizing his children, their activities and education in a way that brings out the best in them. His children feel secure because of his take-charge approach to everything and reassurance that their needs are addressed fairly. He will engage them in thought-provoking conversations, and listen respectfully. The leader dad has what it takes to manage a busy, active family, as he can juggle many tasks and get a lot done. He teaches his children the rules of life and how to play by them. He is a model of fairness and justice, and will engage his children in problem solving. His kids learn how to be good citizens and he involves them in church, community and social activities. He does what he can to create a network of friends, extended family, and community organizations to foster a sense of belonging.
Potential pitfalls: The leader dad feels overly responsible for his children's successes and failures. He struggles to let them do things their own way and can be highly critical of individuality. Older children often accuse him of "trying to run their lives." Emotional conflict is a source of distress, and he will either avoid it or overpower his children. He believes that children should be controlled and rational, and he quickly squashes emotionality, not realizing that he is also squashing creativity and individuality. He expects his children to follow societal norms and finds it upsetting when they don't. He often puts work before his relationships, spending long hours away without recognizing the effect this has on his kids. He struggles to live up to "superhuman" expectations he has for himself.
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