Home' Aurora : Aurora August 2012 Contents 14
Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle www.mn.catholic.org.au
IF CHILDREN COULD advertise for their
ideal father on one of the job-search
websites, they would probably want
someone who is loving, reliable, kind
and generous with gifts. But that is not
all: they would also want a man who is
light-hearted, who can join in games with
enthusiasm, who plays fair and who laughs
a lot. These playful qualities are not only
found among fathers, but fathers have a
particular way of relating to children that
accentuates the playful connection.
Until recently, play was thought of as
'time out' from the serious business of
parenting, so when fathers 'played' with
their children it was not as important as
when fathers changed their children's
clothes or drove them to the childcare
centre. As far as children were concerned,
'playing' was believed to be for relaxation,
not for learning. We now understand that
both these ideas were wrong. Fathers'
play is parenting: it makes up a key
part of father--infant bonding, and is
important for children's development. As
for children, we now see that play is not
separate from learning, but is actually
one of the key ways that children come to
master the most complex and important
lessons of life -- how to understand what
people are thinking and how to get on with
others. Fathers' play with children not only
cements the loving connection between
father and child, it also boosts the child's
development in thinking, managing
emotions and problem-solving. As well,
dads have a secret quality that can make
play with them irresistible.
Dad's secret quality has two parts,
his authority and his ability to lose
convincingly. Fathers have inbuilt authority.
From a child's perspective, a father
is stronger, bigger and infinitely more
powerful. So triumphing over Dad, whether
it's a board game, a verbal jest, a game
of table tennis or rough and tumble play,
is very attractive. But the win must seem
sincere. The Dad must make the contest
feel realistic and the child must come out
on top, but only with effort.
For your child to really enjoy the play
it must feel right; Dad must lose even
though he seemed to be really trying
to win. Afterwards you may hear your
youngster then tell other family members
how they 'beat Dad'. Take this as a
compliment; your acting ability let them
enjoy the exhilaration of feeling, just
for a few minutes, even more powerful
You may like to visit www.newcastle.
As Fathers' Day approaches, Richard Fletcher,
Senior Lecturer at The University of Newcastle's
Family Action Centre, explains the importance
of Dads' play with their children.
Michael O'Connor and Louise Gannon RSJ participated
in the "God Alive Down Under" day led by Fr David
Ranson at Hunter Wetlands.
Fr Stefan Sapun was farewelled from the diocese
recently before heading to ministry in Brisbane.
(Back) Fr Stefan his wife Ewa and Bishop Bill; in front,
Nadia and Alexandra Sapun.
Fr Lex Levey was joined by his brothers Ken (left) and
Peter to celebrate his golden jubilee of priestly ordination
(l-r) Emma Tierney, Liz Stokes and Paul Greaves
attended the St Vincent de Paul fundraiser for
homelessness at Maitland Region Art Gallery. See story
on page 5.
By RICHARD FLETCHER
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