Fatherhood – a Role Too Important to Ignore
“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years”. – Mark Twain
Fatherhood – Just Being Present Makes a Huge Impact
This article appears courtesy of George Vlismas’s OnlyMensHealth.com
The role of fatherhood seems to be a rather confused one – at least today, in our western ‘developed’ world. The facts are that the number of children living without their father has increased dramatically in recent years.
A very recent U.S Census reports that today an astonishing 1 in 3 children in the U.S live without their father. In 1960 it was only 11%.
According the Office of National Statistics in 2015, only 8% of single parents are fathers, leaving a large number of children not living with their biological fathers – and that number is increasing. And for those fathers that are at home, many are absent for longer periods of time due to work and other commitments.
It’s no wonder that the vice president of organizations such as the National Fatherhood Institute comments: ‘People look at a child in need, in poverty or failing in school, and ask “What can we do to help?” But what we do is ask, “Why does that child need help in the first place?”
And the answer is often it’s because the child lacks a responsible and involved father’ And yet all the information we need is easily available – anyone trying to find information on fatherhood will find countless books, magazines and websites that dedicate themselves to encouraging, supporting and advising fathers on how be more nurturing, present and understanding.
Let’s be Clear….. on Being Present Mainstream media, such as popular TV shows often show dads as bumbling ‘numpties’ – well-meaning but foolish large children, needing just as much mothering from their wives as their children do.
Entertaining for the viewers I’m sure, but not exactly accurate, helpful or representative of fatherhood. Imagine if some alien arrived on earth and was exposed to programes such as ‘The Simpsons’ or ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ or ‘Family Guy’ – what exactly would it think a father’s role was in society these days? But despite all these mixed messages, there is an underlying clarity of truth: Children need their fathers as well as their mothers.
But can this ‘ideal’ notion of a present, involved, caring father be brought into the reality of daily life? Research has shown that yes, it can, and by using some tested, practical methods it is within reach of almost anyone.
- Be Present – study after study always reveals the same thing – children always say they want to spend time with their fathers. Children need dad time, whether the father is sharing a home with them or not. And it’s not only the big, important events or having adventures together that count; even just doing simple chores or just being together are just as important and meaningful for children to get to know their fathers – and fathers to learn about them.
- Be Present throughout their childhood – There is no time in a child’s life that is not important. Even as babies, children react differently to their dad’s than they do to their moms. The bond that is created at the infant stage is a bond for life. Later on, they may need you in different ways, but they will still need you. From persistent toddler, to inquisitive pre-schooler to irritable teenager, all stages will have their particular challenges and rewards. The important thing is for parents to let them know that they are worth their parents time, attention and approval – children who grow up knowing this tend to be more healthy, strong and successful in life.
- Be clear on the needs of the children – Whatever the situation between the father and the mother of the children, a fathers relationship with the children is distinct and separate; Children need consistency, care, financial support and a loving relationship with their dad. These should never be dependent on the relationship with their mother – if there are times of disagreement or dispute, none of these things should be denied to the children to satisfy any other motive.
- Support each other as parents – Whether you can get along with their mom as a committed couple or not, you can have a respectful relationship as parents. You can be a good father both in and out of marriage. Children can only benefit if they see their parents treat each other with respect and appreciation.
- Provide for the family – There’s no getting round it – children have financial needs. Food, clothing, housing, care. They also need a role model of a responsible male who provides for them. Children whose parents provide for them feel more valued and have better relationships with their parents.
- Maintain balance – A father being only the disciplinarian results in the children only being afraid of him, and not seeing the man behind the rules. On the other hand being the ‘fun’ parent in the family to point of becoming one of the kids, leaving the mother to be strict one is just as equally not productive. Children need to have a father that they know can set reasonable, fair but firm boun, and also relax and have fun with them.
- Be a role model – You can be guaranteed of one thing: Your children are observing you every minute. Whether they are girls or boys, they need you as a role model as an adult, and a man. How you treat others, how you carry yourself in various situations, how you deal with stress and frustrations, how you fulfil your obligations – as the saying goes, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. Boys will, more than they realise become like you, girls will try find a man with certain traits like you. Give them an notion of manhood they will be proud of.
George Vlismas Get the Only Men’s Health Newsletter here: OnlyMensHealth.com