Saturday, June 17, 2017

Fathers are important too: every day not just on Father's Day

Tomorrow is Father’s Day. A day meant to celebrate the fathers in our lives. This day is often not given the same emphasis as Mother’s Day and that just seems so wrong to me. Fathers are central to the emotional well-being of their children. Studies have shown that if a child’s father is affectionate, supportive and involved in a child’s day to day life, he can contribute immensely to a child’s cognitive, language, academic success and social development. Fathers have a great impact on our lives wither its good and bad. Fathers influence our relationships. His relationship with our mothers also influence our relationships. When dads are absent, there are men who step up and take over the role for so many children.  

Fathers influence our relationships in many ways. For a little girl, her father is the first man who will love. The man she will judge all other men by. He is the man who will teach her how a woman is treated and how to interact with men. If he is controlling or abusive and disrespects women, she will grow up thinking it’s okay for a man to beat her and abuse her in many different terrifying ways.  Many people may have the image of Daddy’s little girl as the spoiled brat who gets whatever she wants because daddy says so. Being Daddy’s little girl doesn’t have to be negative. When a dad showers his daughter with affection, with his time and attention, he shows her that she is loved, valued and worthy. Notice I didn’t say showers her with money and gifts. There’s the difference. Girls tend to do better in math and science when they have a good relationship with their father.

For a little boy, Dad is the role model for how a man acts in this world. He will emulate his dad’s behavior in all aspects of his life. As a husband and a father, he learns how to be loving, supportive, and protective of his future wife and children. As an employee, he learns to be hard working and even as a boss, he learns how to be supportive of his employees and a leader. On the flip side, if his dad is abusive and cruel, he will continue this behavior pattern in all of his future relationships. A dad’s influence on his son is not just seen in relationship patterns. In academics, when a boy has an actively involved dad, he tends to get better grades and perform better on achievement tests.

A father’s relationship with his child’s mother is just as important as his relationship with the child. When a child sees his or her dad being loving, affectionate and supportive of his or her mother, he or she learns how healthy relationships are supposed to function. Even during arguments, when a child see his or her parents working out their differences, their conflicts, a child learns conflict resolution. However, when a child sees or hears his or her father disrespecting his or her mother by name calling and demeaning behavior, a son learns it is okay to treat women like that and a girl learns to accept this behavior from other men in her life. I know this is hard for separated and divorced parents. No matter how much he or she may deserve your anger, please refrain from speaking ill of your child’s father or mother in front of them or even when they could be within earshot. Despite your anger, disgust or hurt at his or her behavior, your child is watching. Not only are you possibly tainting his or her relationship with his or her child, you are also teaching him or her to disrespect others simply because you are angry, hurt, etc.

The saying goes “Any man can be a father but it takes a special man to be a dad.” I am grateful that my husband is such a dad. He adores our daughter. He spends time with her, actively talks and plays with her. She eagerly awaits her time with her dad. I also want to acknowledge the extra special men who stepped up to the plate and took the role of dad for so many children whose fathers aren’t here for whatever reason. Grandpas, uncles and stepdads or any man who stepped in and helped mold a child to his or her potential. I’ve been blessed with many male role models in my life when my own father decided not to fight for a place in his children’s lives. My Grandpa Ken and my five uncles taught me a strong work ethic. I’ve watched as my uncles’ build businesses from nothing into successes, persevering to provide for their wives and children, despite struggles and the ups and downs of the business. Through their faith, I learned that God provides through thick and thin. By their example, I married a man who has a strong work ethic. A man who works hard despite his exhaustion and frustration to provide for his family. A man who never gives up, despite his desire to do so, because there are others counting on him.

Despite the hard work of moms and no matter how hard she tries, she cannot replace the importance of a dad. The male influence is just so important to a child’s development and well-being in all aspects of his or her life. I know that some men walk away without a care, leaving behind the children they helped create and it sickens me that some men can be so heartless. So Dads, please take an active role in your child’s life. I know you are tired from work, but you have no idea the impact your full attention has on your child. For non-custodial dads, you can still be active in your child’s life despite not living with them. For the men who have stepped up and became great dads to their children and the men who took responsibility for children who aren’t his, Happy Dad’s Day. You are greater than just a father. You are a boy’s hero and a little girl’s first love.