Mothers love makes the world go round! But what about the love of a father? Many researchers are finding that the affects of a father’s love on the development of a child are often understudied and underestimated. A report out of the University of Connecticut concluded that in matters of substance abuse, depression, behavior problems and psychological maladjustment – the love a father plays a more significant role than that of the mother. Furthermore, these difficulties in life can be more easily avoided if the presence of a strong and nurturing father figure is evident in a young child’s life. It has long been known that parents can make a defining difference in the future of their child. And there is often argument about whether a dual parent household produces better offspring than a single parent household does – but new studies are focusing on fatherhood as a cornerstone of child development.
For years, mothers have been looked to as the nurturing creatures genetically predisposed to provide a healthy and loving environment for their children. For decades, moms stayed home with their children while dads were away working which had socialists to assume that motherhood played the most significant role in a child’s life. However, as the tides began to change, research too shifted to see what the importance of a father in a child life really is all about. The results are astounding but not surprising.
The report published in the December 2001 editions of Review of General Psychology showed that the impact of a father’s role in their child’s life has a far-reaching effect. In fact, whether a father was present or not, often was the sole predictor of successful outcomes for children in many categories of life. One of the most critical findings was that families who had both parents involved in the raising of children (whether married or not) had significant findings that the mothers in these relationships were more confident and better equipped to discipline and raise their children without problem. This indicates that while mothers have often been left to detail the raising of children, when they are supported they are able to do so even more. Further findings showed that children who had dual sex parents who were involved in their upbringing were ten times as likely to not use drugs, pass high school, and continue into college. Additionally, involvement in extra curricular activities by children with an actively involved father, were often increased showing that more attention is able to be placed on a child’ life.
Still, one doesn’t need a report, research, or excusive and intensive studies to show that the importance of a father in a child’s life is measured by unspeakable means. And even more obvious is the fact that having a father (which everyone does) is not the answer. It is having a father that is actively involved, nurturing, loving, and mentally equipped to meet the psychological needs of their child. When a dad is present, involved and seems to bypass gender lines he can help raise children who become better mothers, fathers, and spouses themselves. While parents can teach all sorts of lessons and tell children what kind of adults and relationships, they should look for in life, showing them is twenty times more effective. When children see a father acting out of superficial character – playing with dolls, seeing mom as an equal partner, raising both a daughter and son to be respectful, independent and thriving adults – they become free to move about in this world as an individual who is not strapped down by gender lines and inequality.
Fathers are role models. They also teach little boys how to be real men and little girls what to look for in a man. Freud’s theories that girls seek out partners in life who resemble their own dads are not far from the truth. The reason is simple, what a child sees at home is what they become accustomed to, what they surmise is normal and what they will strive to achieve throughout their lives. This normalcy can be negative or positive and is normally hindered by the presence of supportive and engaging parents first and foremost.
There are millions of children who are growing up without their dads present. This isn’t to say that they are disadvantage in any way. A father can be an uncle, a grandfather a brother or neighbor. The truth is that it isn’t the quantity or definition of people in a child’s life or having the perfect balance of male and female role models, but in having people that are empowering and nurturing and take on the roles of parenting. What children need is not just people to love them. Children need people who will take an interest in them, who aren’t afraid to say no and who put a child’s needs and development above and beyond their own. Many single mom households feel as though their child is missing something by not having a dad present. They worry that the importance of having a father in a child’s life is more important than anything else they can offer. While this can be true, there are plenty of non-traditional households that offer fatherly love with the absence of a father. How? By realizing that his existence whether the way it should be or not – is important.
The importance of having a father in a child’s life should never force mothers or family members to include someone that is not healthy for their child. In other words, if dad brings an environment that is meddling to their child – it isn’t better to have them around just to say dad is here. When you consider that a child’s future is predicted not just by having a father – but rather by having a father of substance, families often have to choose. If the father in your child’s life brings negativity, there is a good chance that this will breed years of unsettling and disruptive feelings for the child. And yet in a subliminal way, even this father figure can make a lasting positive impact on their child, who chooses an alternate path in the strides to not become the likeness of their own dad.