In the traditional family structure, the role of father is clearly unique. Perhaps it is because dad goes off to work and comes home with that big booming voice or maybe it’s that he is a soft touch for ice cream or an extra ride on the Ferris Wheel at the State Fair but dad has a special place in the hearts of the kids. He is both the voice of authority and sometimes the voice of wise counsel when children need someone to guide them and direct them.
On the other hand, it is mom who is there every day, guiding every event, making sure the children are safe and cared for. Both jobs are crucial and beloved by the kids, even if they don’t know it or say so. So when the time comes to get your little one ready for kindergarten, it may be that both parents can have a big role in this transition as well.
There is no doubt that in terms of the physical preparations for kindergarten, mom is a big decision maker. The clothing that your new student will wear, buying the right school supplies and even buying the extra things that will be needed in the classroom are all good jobs for the primary shopper in the family which is often mom. But if you can get dad in on the act particularly in the mental and emotional preparations for kindergarten, that can be a huge help because he can use his mentoring role to give the child permission to begin to accept this big change.
This is especially true in the case of dad’s little man. A young boy often idolizes his father and admires him as a hero because dad is brave and able to go out and conquer the world each day. When the family goes on the trip, it is dad who is leading the way, slaying the dragons along the way, saving the fair maiden (mom or sis) and hunting food for dinner (paying at the restaurant). In the child’s imaginary world, dad is a combination of mighty warrior, master hunter and mighty wizard. These are some powerful images that you can tap to help that little guy see himself as ready to the big adventure of going off to kindergarten on his own for the first time.
If you can get dad to be the one to drive that slightly frightened little one to school, he often knows just what to say to change fear into excitement and to motivate his son or daughter to want to go in there and do great to make dad proud. That is the nature of the father’s role in the lives of his children. So why not use it to help your child through this very important day in his or her early childhood development?
Very often dads have a special bond and a special language they speak to their sons. To an outsider when dad says, “Get in there and be a man” to his little boy, that may sound harsh and not nurturing. But what the little guy hears is, “I know you can do it. When you go to kindergarten like a man, you are being a brave warrior like daddy.” And that is just the right language to motivate that little guy to face his fears and go to that first day of kindergarten and be a big success to live up to that strong affirmation and high expectation of daddy.