Lets Hear It For Dad!
If you were to judge fatherhood by watching sitcoms, you might think fathers are easily replaced. Sitcoms present fathers as having a self-absorbed teenage mentality of fun and games, unable to make a mature choice for their family. They are “bumbling ninnies” acquiescing to their wives because they have no idea how to help their family, men who embarrass their children and frustrate their wives. However, research paints a very different picture of fathers, one that reveals the positive contributions that fathers make to family life. Let me share just a few highlights.
· Fathers provide confidence. When fathers remain actively involved in family life, especially with their children, they provide a mother with greater confidence in her ability to parent. That’s right, rather than leading to frustrated mothers, hands-on fathers contribute to a mother’s confidence in her own ability to parent. Fathers not only contribute to a mother’s confidence, they contribute to their children’s confidence as well. Fathers provide children with the confidence to step out into the world away from home–the world of work, social interaction, and school. Children who have the support of an active father respond more confidently to complex, novel situations and exhibit more confidence in exploring the world beyond their immediate home.
· Fathers are playful adventurers who provide hands-on, rough and tumble play. They playfully wrestle, tickle, run, throw, and push their children in a very different way than a mother. They teach their children a playful curiosity as they talk about those topics mom would rather not hear. In the midst of this play, fathers teach their children self-control. They teach them to calm upsetting emotions and manage anger in constructive ways. They teach them that losing and winning demand decorum and sportsmanship. This self-control extends from play to life as fathers encourage their children to stretch their limits by engaging in activities outside of their comfort zone. They support their children in these endeavors. Each time their child accomplishes some difficult task, a father proudly acknowledges the accomplishment. The playful adventurer in each father teaches their child self-control that leads to less impulsivity and greater empathy for others. Father’s also provide playful adventures that lead to a child’s willingness to try new things, better tolerate stress and frustration, and exhibit greater resilience in stressful situations.
· Fathers are problem-solvers as well. Let’s face it—men like solutions. They teach those problem-solving skills to their children. Father’s encourage children to persist in the face of difficulties, finding solutions and answers. They support their children in seeking solutions to problems. This can lead to better attitudes about school, stronger educational achievement, and greater career success as well as a better ability to tolerate stress and frustration.
· Fathers provide loving limits. Loving limits provide a sense of security in a child’s life. Loving limits provide a child with a sense of security. Children who have a father that maintains loving limits develop greater empathy for others. They also learn how to assert themselves in a healthy way. Loving limits eventually become internalized to provide a sense of personal control that allows for responsible action. A father’s loving limits provides a child with security, personal control, empathy, and a healthy sense of personal boundaries.
Sitcoms may portray fathers as “bumbling ninnies,” but life calls fathers to become supportive, playful adventurers who provide loving limits, security, and problem-solving skills. Fathers are not a simple accessory that is nice to have; they are an asset…a necessity. Every child deserves one…every child needs one. So, let’s hear it for Dad!