It's a familiar trope repeated again and again in television, movies and advertising: dads don't know how to take care of kids. Whether it's being puzzled about a nappy or setting the stove on fire at dinnertime - it would seem fathers couldn't possibly raise their own children.
Every day, millions of great dads bust those myths. Some support working mums by staying at home and others raise children by themselves. They nurture, inspire and put their hearts into helping their children grow up safe and healthy.
Enough tired cliches about fatherhood. Let these 11 dads show you what they can do for their children.
Dads can be great stay-at-home parents
How to be a great stay-at-home dad
Alex Desmond, a stay-at-home dad in Belize, shares his experience on trying to be the best dad he can be. We’re celebrating all the super dads who make #EarlyMomentsMatter
Full-time care can be challenging for any parent but Alex is learning every day and wouldn’t trade it for anything. “Parents should give their children as much love as possible,” says the young dad in Belize.
55% of young children in 74 countries don’t get to read, learn or play with their fathers but Alex is making the most of their time together. These aren’t just precious moments with Dad - the play, nutritious food and attention Alex’s little one receives now will set the foundation for a bright future.
Dads can do all the chores
Tamba’s got his priorities in order. The single dad from Sierra Leone has a huge list of tasks to tackle every day but through it all, he’s focussed on his two daughters. As they grow up, Tamba’s affection and care will stay with them.
“I do everything for them including getting them ready for school, dropping them off at school, laundering their clothes and helping them with their homework.”
But learning and playing is just the start. Without a nutritious diet, 38% of children in Sierra Leone suffer from stunting. Tamba will need to make sure Annie and her sister get the nutritious food their brains need to develop.
This Father’s Day, you can help a dad like Tampa protect his children from stunting and malnutrition with a UNICEF Inspired Gift. Buy an Inspired Gift to say thanks for everything Dad did to give you the best start in life, or read on to hear about more great dads.
After raising seven children, Bwamble from Uganda has learnt a lot about a child’s first years. He’s making sure Bambu, his youngest, gets a chance to start learning early at a UNICEF-supported nursery. “I want her to experience how children learn – through playing. Those who go to nursery are the ones who win when they get to school.”
“When I pick her up, she is tired from all the playing and wants to relax. My wife farms, I stay behind and look after the children. I want to see them healthy and well.”
Dads can nurture their newborns in their first moments
In low-income countries, five babies less than a month old die every minute. The tragedy is that these deaths are largely preventable with simple, low-cost interventions in their first vulnerable days.
From Ghana to Croatia, UNICEF is helping parents who can’t access incubators for their premature babies with skin-to-skin ‘kangaroo’ care. It’s an intimate moment of care and protection that can stabilise a baby’s body temperature, steady their heart rate and help them breathe more easily.
Dads can provide emotional support when times are tough
Idro: A super dad in a refugee camp
Idro Erikole, 28, is from Nimule, South Sudan. He escaped the fighting last year and fled across the border to Uganda with his wife and their three children.
Good parenting for young children living in stressful conditions can provide a buffer, helping them to grow up healthy despite adversity. That’s the environment Idro is trying to create for his daughter in the Bidi Bidi refugee camp in Uganda. Violence forced the family to flee their home in South Sudan and it’s having an impact on three-year-old's confidence.
"My daughter asks me ‘when are we going home?’. Although she was very small she was able to realize that home has already been taken away for us."
Idro and his wife are doing everything they can to make a new home for their children in the refugee camp - including building it from the ground. “We were brought here to the bush. My wife harvested grass, I made bricks, and we made our home. I’m making a bed at the moment for my children.”
Dads can grow their child’s passions
Before they say a word, children learn from what is being said to them. When parents and caregivers respond to a baby’s cry or smile (or song!) it helps their brains build social and communication skills. Babies then copy the sounds and actions of the people around them, building knowledge by connecting words together in webs of meaning.
Dads can build their children’s confidence every day
With these daily affirmations, Dad isn’t just making sure his daughter has a good day. He’s laying a powerful foundation that will last a lifetime. According to Harvard University researchers, secure and trusting relationships with parents could minimise a child’s stress during negative life experiences and prevent or reverse the damaging effects of long-term toxic stress.
Dads can teach other fathers how to bond with their kids
“In this area, fathers don’t normally pay such attention to their children,” says Mark from Uganda. “It’s the mother’s role. But as a physiotherapist, I understand how children’s development works. The trick is spending time with your child. The relationship I have with my son is too hard to describe. He surprises me every day. You learn a lot.”
Mark wants to share what he’s learnt with other dads in his community. “I’m trying to motivate them,” he says.
"I take my son to the market, carrying him. I got strange looks at first but now a couple of people are copying me."
“The best start in life isn’t about money or material things - it is about bonding, love, care. It’s the small things that matter. There are many fathers with a lot of money; their kids have the best clothes but they can’t provide the love. It’s these early days that matter. What they are exposed to now will carry with them for the rest of their life.”
Do you know a great dad?
The greatest gift any father can give their children is the chance for a better future. Make Dad feel like a superhero: buy an Inspired Gift in his honour. It'll help dads like him around the world protect their children from malnutrition.
Here’s how it works:
1. Purchase a UNICEF Inspired Gift. You can select from many gifts, including first aid kits, school supplies or vaccines.
2. A personalised card will be sent to your dad telling him about the life-saving impact he’s making.
3. Life-saving supplies will be dispatched from a UNICEF warehouse to wherever they're most needed.
There's no better way to say thanks for everything your dad did to give you the best start in life. Buy one instantly to make Dad's day and forever change the lives of vulnerable children.GIVE DAD A GIFT
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