Father Figures: Making a Difference
The human body is a wonderful thing. To create a new life, it takes a contribution from both the male and female of the species. Without one, the other is useless. An egg and sperm must meet in order for the egg to become fertilized and begin the division necessary for a new life.
Once that life is born into the world, it still needs both of the contributors to its existence. That means that both a mother and father are necessary for its successful survival. Whether together or apart, a mother and a father are important to the growth of their offspring.
In layman’s terms, a child needs both their mother and father. Society has been rough on fathers. There are many reasons for this (that we will discuss later), but the need for a male figure in a child’s life cannot be denied.
Fathers do make a difference. Without a male figure in their lives it is like a child is only using half of their DNA – the half contributed by their mother. There has to be a reason that the male determines the sex of the child. A father is vital to the lives of their children.
In this report, we will explore the bond between a father and a child. You will also learn how fathers can play a more active role in the lives of their children, whether they are in the home or not. And, if the father is not in the home, what effect does this have on the child? Where can a role model then be found? How can other family members pitch in for dad when he needs help with his fathering duties?
All of these questions are important to answer. If you’ve ever had a doubt about the role of a father in a child’s life, keep reading to find the answers that you seek.
THE FATHER-CHILD BOND
Have you ever watched a child with their parent? As a toddler takes its first step holding on to daddy’s hand, something happens. The child begins to squeeze that hand. They lean on that parent for support and safety while they make an uneasy venture into new territory.
Society places a lot of value on the mother of a child. Yes, the mother’s body is equipped to carry the child for nine months. There is a bond formed that no one can deny. But, it is the father’s contribution that determines whether that child will be male or female. Why?
We don’t know the answer to that but once the child is here, they are a representative of both parents. If just the mother is prized, what will happen to the knowledge that they lack from their father?
Mothers and fathers relate to their children differently. For instance, a mother is usually the major nurturer in their relationship with a child. When their child skins their knee, it is usually mom that comforts them and puts a bandage on. She encourages him to cry because feelings are meant to be experienced.
Fathers often have a different approach. A father will examine the child’s knee and assess that it is nothing more than a scratch. Through his influence, his child will also see it as a minor injury, not one that can keep him from returning to play. He will dust his son or daughter off and encourage them to get back into the game.
Two concepts have just been exhibited here. One, the mother teaches her child empathy and love through a nurturing instinct. Two, the father teaches his child how to endure different setbacks and situations and rise above his circumstances.
A child looks to his or her father for strength and support. No matter what, the discipline and principles they learn from father can help them grow in a stable way.
Men and women think differently. No matter how hard a mother tries, she cannot be a man or a father as a man would be. It is not in her nature. That is because it is the job of the male parent to provide it.
A child also receives a well-rounded idea of what love is. From their mother, they learn that it is not “unmanly” to show emotion. From their father, they learn how to be strong and supportive. Both parents assist their children in becoming self-sufficient, self-confident and responsible.
WAYS THAT FATHERS CAN SPEND TIME WITH THEIR KIDS
We mention fathers to include biological fathers as well as male role models in the child’s life. In today’s society, biological fathers are not always around and then another male needs to fill the role. This information is for any man who loves and nurtures a child in their life.
Barriers to Quality Time
We all know that fathers are busy people, just like moms. Many obstacles can restrict the time and attention given to their children. Here is step number 1: Make spending time with your children a priority in your life. Whatever that means for the other activities in your life, see them in light of the importance of your child to you. Then, strive to make the time.
Here are some reasons why fathers have a hard time spending “quality time.” Quality doesn’t refer to the length of time but what you get accomplished that is meaningful to both of you during that allotted time.
Work – A father provides for his family with a job (or career). Sometimes, long hours can cut into seeing sporting events or spending time on their child’s hobby. A possible solution is to set certain times throughout the week that are just for “the kids.” It sends the message that they are important enough to be set a specific time and that you want to be the father in their life. It doesn’t have to be every day but it needs to be consistent so they know you care about them.
Spouse – The world has been so hard on fathers that some mothers don’t want them to be involved. When a child sees that the mother doesn’t hold their father in high regard, they may begin to question his love for them. A possible solution is to increase your parenting effort and volunteer to do some of the activities that the mother normally shoulders: soccer practice, school plays, dance recitals, cub scouts and etc.
Lack of skill – There isn’t a book that comes with a child. Most of us are flying by the seat of our pants with only our experience and our love to guide us. When our father wasn’t involved or we had less than a satisfactory childhood, it can be scary to think of raising your own child. What will you teach them? A solution revolves around finding help.
Resources are available to help men become better fathers including parenting classes, books on fathering, as well as support networks in your community and on the Web that cater to fatherhood issues.
Ideas for Sharing Time with Your Kids
So, what can you do with your child to encourage, nurture and show them that you love them?
Read a book – Kids love story time, especially at night when it’s time to go to bed. You can read from a particular book or make up your own heroes for them to hear about. Either way, this 20 or 30 minutes is just for you and them. Without being preachy, each of your stories can teach a value to your children.
Hold a discussion – As kids get older, story time is usually not an option. Instead, why not watch a news broadcast and then pose a question for discussion for the next 30 minutes. You get to share your views and hear theirs as it pertains to current events. This type of discussion can also be a forum for questions that they want to pose about something going on in their own lives.
Play a game – Fathers are usually rougher than mothers when it comes to play. While a mother will join the child and play at their level, a father will challenge the child by getting them to play at his level. Kids can rough house even more with their father, boys and girls.
For fathers and their children, try a game of basketball, kickball, volleyball or a made-up game where there is crashing and thrashing. Just be sure that no one gets hurt during all the fun.
Share a hobby – Remember back when you were a kid? What types of hobbies interested you? If your child shows an interest in art, encourage them and share their interest. Sign both of you up for an art class. If it’s athletic, take them to practice and also practice with them at home.
Have dinner – Statistics show that families that eat together are more likely to get along and communicate more. Kids are less likely to get involved in unhealthy behaviors like risky sex, drugs, alcohol and succumb to peer pressure. If they do, they are more likely to talk to their parents about it.
Help with homework – No one wants to do this, but dads can jump right in and earn some cool points. As school gets more challenging, you can assist your kids with the subjects that were easy for you. And, if you don’t know the subject well, you can find a resource that does (like a tutor). Either way, stay involved.
Take a vacation – It doesn’t have to be for a week or to an expensive destination. Weekend trips are made for bonding between father and child. Visit points of interest in your state. Do something fun like camping, exploring, visiting landmarks and the like.
Risk looking silly – Kids can often see their parents as “superhuman.” To bring their image of you back down to earth, do something that you aren’t particularly good at if it interests your child. Examples: learn to skateboard, go rollerblading, go bungee jumping, and have a tea party with your daughter and the like. It is all in the name of fun and togetherness with your kids.
Play games – Games have come a long way from simple board games. Try the Wii interactive system. Compete in sports and play other exciting games. The activity is good and you’ll share a lot of laughs.
These are just a few of the examples. You probably know more depending on what your child’s interests are and yours.
MOMS AND THE FATHER-CHILD BOND
How Moms Can Help
Because so much of the emphasis is on the mother-child bond, fathers are often left out in the cold from the beginning. When a father wants to play an active role in their child’s life it is seen as a rare occurrence. Stand your ground and express how much it means to you to be a father.
Moms can be a barrier here because they already have it in their mind (from society and/or experience) that fathers won’t be there when it counts. Try this: Give your child’s father a chance. Consciously decide that you will work with your spouse to be a good parenting “team.”
Children who witness a division between parents may unconsciously learn to devalue their father’s role in their life. No one wants that.
Here are some ways mom can help dad.
Respect him – Whether he lives in the home or not, show respect for the father of your child. Their role is an important one. If you value their input and their presence, your child(ren) will learn to do the same.
Ask him to help out – Often mothers feel that they have to shoulder all the responsibility of raising a child. It is a two-person job. Instead of assuming your child’s father doesn’t want to help you, ask him to shuttle the kids to soccer practice, take the kids to school, cook dinner or even put the kids to bed. Kids especially need to see dad taking a more active role in their lives inside the home.
Share the disciplinary role – Mothers and fathers often have different ways of dishing out punishment. One way to keep it fair and even is to discuss the situation of discipline and come to an agreement on punishment together. Both sides get a say in the final outcome. Sometimes, the situation calls for more empathy and other times, it calls for a firmer hand. It also shows your child that you both are a united front and they can’t play one side against the other.
Stand up for him – If your kids speak ill of their father for a decision he has made or for working long hours, defend his position to them. By doing this, you show that you value his contribution in your life as well as theirs. When it comes to discipline, it shows that you value his decisions. And, don’t openly disagree with him about the kids in front of them. If you have a question, speak in private.
Send the kids his way – When the kids have a problem, send them to their father some of the time. You realize that some issues are better handled by a male figure. Give him every opportunity to interact with the kids on a number of levels.
THE ABSENTEE FATHER
There are many reasons why a father is absent: military service, work obligations, divorce, or even lack of interest. All can hurt a child in a number of ways. According to statistics, homes that lack a father figure are on the increase. And, it’s not just due to unwed mothers.
Another reason for it is divorce. When parents have a messy divorce, the children often pay the price. Mothers want custody and fathers want peace. Some give up parental rights because of the effect it has on the children or the fighting with the mothers. It is a catch-22, though. They may have the right intentions for allowing full custody to the mother, but their child still suffers from their lack of involvement. And, without even joint custody, they lack a lot of parental rights.
Research shows that children are more likely to suffer without the influence of a biological father or father figure. It is linked to an increase in poverty, delinquency, emotional problems and poor performance in school. There have even been studies done with criminal offenders that show they had a high incidence of fatherlessness in their lives. That is not an excuse for crime but it does show an alarming consequence of it.
Fathers are vital to a child’s life and that can’t be stressed enough. But what if father is absent? Even if he wants to be available, someone else needs to be willing to step in and fill his shoes until he can.
Father Figures for Children in Absentee Father Situations
Who can fill in for dad? Mothers raising their children alone have tried for many years to be both mother and father to their kids. It just isn’t enough. The male influence is needed.
But you don’t want just anyone. A positive male figure is needed to stabilize a child’s life as they grow. There is no shortage of negative images of men out there. Isn’t it time we brought a positive one to bear on the lives of our children?
Here are some male figures who can substitute when dad is needed elsewhere or even if he is not up to the job.
Stepfathers – If a mother is divorced and remarried, that new man is now a part of the child’s life. Their relationship is not going to be easy, especially if a child is close to their father. But, they may still have something to teach the child. They can show that they also love the child by actively staying involved in their lives in the home and without.
Uncles – If any family lives near you, ask the males like your brother or brother-in-law to help out with activities that may have fallen to your child’s father before. As an uncle, they can have fun with your child and also be an outlet for questions they would have for a father.
Grandfathers – Grandparents are often overlooked as a resource for children. Your grandfather could be a great role model and teacher.
Male mentors – Many schools have mentoring groups available to work with young men. Their purpose is to offer help, increase self-confidence and give them an outlet for learning and creativity. Encourage your sons to join to increase the prominent positive male figures in their lives.
Coaches – Sports can play an important role in the life of a child. Male coaches can act as positive role models for girls and boys.
Male church members – If you are a member of church, male members who work with children might be called upon to help with children who need a father figure.
When dealing with male father figures, be sure that the person you have in mind is willing to assume the role to your child.
Lessening the Void Created by a Father’s Absence
It can create a hole in a child’s life when their father is not there when they previously were. It could be due to military service, a divorce or even a death. Other family members could be called upon at this time to help minimize the loss.
Spend time in groups – Socialize more with other parents and their children. When a child is surrounded by their friends, they may not notice the absence of their father as much.
Step up the role of other family members – This is a good time for kids to get to know their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins better. Ask others to fill in when you need them to so that you don’t get overloaded.
Keep in touch with father as much as possible – Provided the reason for absenteeism is not death, learn how to put your child into communication with their father through technological means: Skype, email, letters and phone calls. Encourage your child and their father to keep up their connection in any way possible.
Fathers are important to a child’s life. As a mother or a father you can restore the true meaning of this relationship with your children. Defy the stereotypes and opt for a more balanced existence for your child through the loving father-child bond.
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