“A dad is someone who wants to catch you before you fall, but instead picks you up, brushes you off, and lets you try again.”
We often speak of a mother’s challenges and responsibilities when we talk about parenting. Let’s talk about a father’s crucial role in a child’s life. A father’s role isn’t limited to just paying the bills. Research has shown that an involved father can make a significant contribution to his child’s social, cognitive and emotional development. What’s more? A father’s early involvement in caring for children leads to marital stability and increasing the likelihood of a long and happy marriage after the birth of the first child.
Here’s a breakdown on how a dad can, impact his child’s life with his early and consistent involvement:
- You are a role model: When a girl grows up, she unwittingly looks for the qualities in a man that she saw in her father. A gentle and loving father will make a girl look for the same as she is used to and can handle these familial behavioral patterns. A boy on the other hand, will imitate his father. He will seek his father’s approval and copy behaviours he feels are successful and familiar. A violent and dominating father will, by a matter of imitation, lead to a violent and dominating son.
- A different play: Fathers and mothers interact and play with their children differently. A father’s one-to-one interactions with his child are more stimulating and playful compared to a mother’s. These interactions teach the child about the world and about their own range of emotions and how to regulate them in a secure environment.
- Higher cognitive functioning: An involved father helps foster a higher cognitive functioning in children as fathers tend to talk with more questions using the words who, what, when, where, and why. Children whose fathers are engaged in their educational activities also perform better academically.
- Preparation for the world: When I was young, my father always pushed me to deal with my problems by myself. He guided me but never did my work for me. Fathers encourage independence and a sense of industry in children. They challenge a child to try solving a problem by various methods, which further builds a strong self-esteem. These skills prepare a child for the outside world and its challenges.
- Positive behavior: A study shows that children who had good relationships with their fathers exhibit pro-social behavior and less of depression. Boys with involved fathers have fewer behaviour problems while girls close to their fathers had higher self-esteem.
- The disciplinarian: Discipline is one of the trickiest aspects of parenting. It is important to maintain your calm while disciplining and never contradicting your spouse in front of the child. Fathers can make life easy for the family by taking charge of discipline as they are likely to be more effective. Studies show that fathers are more successful in disciplining boys.
- Freedom and responsibility: Fathers are in a position to talk to their adolescent children about values and beliefs, and offer freedom along with a sense of accountability. Engaging children in a joint household chore can also encourage responsibility. It improves their thinking skills, giving them a sense of control over their own successes and failures.
A father is an irreplaceable entity in a child’s life. Even if the parents aren’t together, a father can still play his role successfully. A child gains critical thinking, motivation, social skills, and independence from an involved father. Such children are more empathetic, have better relationships, and manage stress and disappointment much better.
So here’s to all the wonderful fathers out there who are not only providers but nurturers and teachers.