The Dad Difference: New reasearch shows how Dads are different from Moms
About the Book Aspiration Empathy Autonomy What The Dad Difference means for women Author's Biography Order now on CreateSpace
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It is not difficult to understand how father and child's separateness stimulates the child's sense of individual power, autonomy. But the way in which he contributes to his child's empathy is much more complex. Understanding the power of the drive father and child experience to bridge the gap between them helps to explain the significant results. Father, as the first other, stimulates the quest to connect to those unlike oneself, and he becomes the child's first step towards understanding the intriguing world of people. Father does not have to be a perfect person in order to contribute to the development of empathy in his child. He merely has to be available so that the child feels separate, but also feels that desire to get closer.

What does empathy really mean? To feel sympathy for someone involves feeling with (sym) them, commiserating; to feel empathy for someone involves feeling in (em) them, not only what they are seeing, but what they might be experiencing and feeling from their point of view. Empathy is one of the most profound concepts in the English language and constitutes an entire subspecialty in Psychology.

In a key study where researchers, looked at children at age 5 then as adults at age 31, they showed how fathers and mothers contribute differently to the development of their child's empathy. According to this study, father's involvement in childcare—spending time alone with his children and performing routine childcare at least twice per week—is the most important factor in developing empathy, while the second most important factor is mother's acceptance of the child's dependent behavior. In another cross-national study conducted in Sweden, psychologists found that at one year old, father-infant—not mother-infant—attachment, is related to sociability of babies with an unfamiliar adult. This sociability does not depend on a child's temperament, whether he or she is introverted or extroverted, shy or outgoing. The behavior comes from security, a different kind of security than the personal security that mother offers. It is a security with being in and belonging to a world where others are not familiar, but this unfamiliarity challenges and intrigues the child to discover another person’s world.