Mothers and fathers both have their own important roles in a child’s life and development. As both parents have such different qualities and characteristics, it is the mix of the two that completes parenthood.
The modern mother, no matter how many non-traditional duties she assumes, is still seen as the family’s primary nurturer and emotional guardian. It’s in her genes. In this era, many fathers have realized their role and importance in the lives of their children. A father’s bond is deeper than just being the breadwinner. Fathers parent their children differently and this is why children require both the parents equally for their emotional and intellectual growth. They are central to the emotional well-being of their children; they are capable caretakers and disciplinarians. Effective discipline also requires positive attention and good relationships between parents and children.
Even fathers with average parenting skills can make a real impact on their children’s lives. Many years of research have proven that the more involved the father is, the more successful his children will be. A father’s influence can impact a child’s social experiences, academic success, and future achievements. Studies show that if a child’s father is affectionate, supportive, and involved, he can contribute greatly to a child’s cognitive, language, and social development, as well as influencing the development of a strong inner core, positive self-esteem, and authenticity.
Children’s relationships with their fathers can affect all of their relationships from birth to adulthood, from friends to spouses. Those early patterns of interaction with a father are the very patterns that will be projected forward into all relationships as they grow.
Family roles may have changed over the years but the importance of fathers remains constant. Only 20 percent of American households consist of married couples with children. Filling the gap are family structures of all kinds, with fathers taking on a plethora of roles. What really matter however, is that he is involved. When they are engaged, fathers can really make a difference.
Human beings are social animals and we learn by modeling behavior. In fact, all primates learn how to survive and function successfully in the world through social imitation. Those early patterns of interaction are all children know, and it is those patterns that effect how they feel about themselves, and how they develop. Children are vulnerable to those early patterns and incorporate those behavioral qualities in their social interactions, and in their lives as adults.
There are many things you can do as a father to build a stronger bond with your children from an early age. Some of those things are:
- Love and support your children from a young age. They just need a little bit of your attention to be assured that you are there for them when they need you.
- A father is every child’s hero; protect them and make your children feel secure and safe. This might include being financially responsible and but offering emotional support is equally important.
- Play with them and spend your spare time with them; they will cherish it forever.
- Model good behavior and maintain and project a healthy relationship with your partner. They will learn and imitate your actions later in life.
- Offer hugs and be affectionate, and don’t be afraid to fill some of the roles that are traditionally considered the “Mom” stuff. Share duties with your partner such as changing diapers, feeding, bathing, and rocking your child to sleep in the middle of the night.
- Build their self-esteem by ensuring that they know that you value them. This is most easily achieved by taking the time to listen to them.
Fathers are just as essential to healthy child development as mothers. Just like mothers, fathers communicate, play, and discipline their children while also instilling confidence and self-esteem as their children prepare for adult life.
Finally, on Father’s Day, it is important to recognize and reward fathers for being present and for taking an active role in their child’s development.
Happy Father’s Day to all the great fathers who are their children’s heroes – today is your day!