Fathers fill a role in every child’s life that no one else can. This role can significantly impact a child’s development and help shape him or her into the person they will become in the future. Fathers, like mothers, play an important role in the emotional development of their children. Children look to their fathers to establish and enforce ground rules. They also look to their fathers to provide both physical and emotional security.
Children want to please their fathers, and an involved father encourages inner growth and strength. A child’s cognitive and social development is immensely influenced when the father is affectionate and supportive. It also promotes overall well-being and self-confidence. As we grow, fathers shape not only who we are on the inside but also how we interact with others. What a child looks for in other people is influenced by how he was treated by his father.
Friends, lovers, and spouses will all be chosen based on how the child perceives the meaning of the father’s relationship. A father’s behavioral patterns in his relationships with his children will influence how his children interact with others. Young girls rely on their fathers for emotional and physical security. Besides physical security, a father demonstrates to his daughter the benefits of having a good relationship with a man. If a father is gentle and loving, his daughter will seek those qualities in men when she is old enough to start dating. And if a father is strong and supportive, his daughter will be drawn to similar men.
Boys emulate their fathers’ personalities as well. From a young age, they seek approval from their fathers subconsciously. We grow up as humans by imitating the behavior of those around us; this is how we learn to function in the world. If a father is kind and respectful to others, his sons will be similarly raised. When a father is absent, young boys look to other male figures for guidance on how to behave and survive in the world.
Reasons Why Children Require Fathers
Having two loving parents in their lives benefits children. Whether their father is still living in the family home or their parents have divorced, fathers play a vital role in raising their children. There are so many advantages to having a father actively involved in a child’s life that it’s worth reviewing the advantages and remembering why it’s important for children to spend quality time with their father.
1. For fun and friendship
Fathers engage in more physical and vigorous play with their children. They have more physical contact and spend more of their time playing. How fathers interact with their children improves their coordination and ability to control their strength. Children who have an involved father are likely to have better social skills and more intimate friendships with less conflict.
2. To maintain equilibrium
Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
Children benefit from having two parents with opposing viewpoints and personalities. Having both parents with diverse strengths, weaknesses, and perspectives helps children grow up more well-rounded.
3. To help them understand men
Children can best learn about manliness by watching male role models. And a father is uniquely suited to be that role model. This is especially true for boys over the age of six. They learn the male tendencies to protect, provide, educate and establish firm boundaries. Fathers are responsible for demonstrating to children that real men can be self-sufficient, do housework, and hug and kiss their children! And they see how men dress, eat, and grow stubble on their chins differently!
4. To further improve their education
Responsible fathers are interested in their children’s education. When children see their fathers regularly, they are more likely to perform well in school. Dads instill in their children the value of education and how to succeed. One of the most important factors influencing how well girls perform academically is their father’s faith in them. When fathers are involved in their children’s education, they are more likely to get good grades, enjoy school, and participate in extracurricular activities.
5. For good mental health and self-esteem
Children who have an actively involved father are less likely to suffer from depression, suicide, self-harm, and other mental health issues than those who do not. Children who despise their fathers will experience far more mental and emotional problems as they grow older. Children’s self-esteem is heavily influenced by their father’s time and attention. Spending time with a father can improve a child’s self-esteem. The more fathers interact with their children, the more influence they have.
When children do not have a father figure in their lives, they experience guilt, upset, and self-doubt well into adulthood.
Ways for Dads to Have a Positive Influence on Their Children
1. Make yourself available and approachable to them
Fathers must make time in their busy schedules to give their children their undivided attention. Children who have emotionally available parents outperform their peers in terms of social, academic, and well-being outcomes. We can lose sight of the fact that our children are people, especially as they mature into intensely private, hormonal adolescents. We become dismissive or disapproving, snappy, and snarky. By responding to our children warmly, even when we don’t feel like it, we demonstrate that we value them as people rather than as inconvenient nuisances.
A gentle touch, a smile, or soft words warm up a relationship and increase the likelihood that we will be heard and have a positive influence on our children’s lives. You must love them unconditionally and demonstrate your love for them through your actions and the way you communicate with them. The love you have for your children is what they will remember for most of their lives as they grow up.
2. Teach them the ways of the Lord
As a father, you are the ultimate teacher and the figure your child will look to as they grow up. This automatically makes it your responsibility to teach them the ways of the Lord.
Introducing them to the words of God and teaching them to have faith in God and live according to his commands will make you a responsible spiritual mentor and make your life much easier as a parent.
Proverbs 22:17-19 “Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge. For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee; they shall withal be fitted in thy lips. That thy trust may be in the Lord, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee.”
3. Be fair to them and learn to set boundaries
Fairness is a strength that helps us maintain positive family relationships. Children have a keen sense of what is fair and what is not. Find as many ways as you can to help your children perceive your efforts to make life more equitable for everyone in the family. You might think about chores and responsibilities, pocket money, and spending time with you.
Also, learn to set boundaries. Our children, including our teenagers, perform best when their behavior is checked. The children will frequently argue with you. Setting limits indicates that you are having a positive influence on your children. The goal is to avoid becoming too authoritarian, which will drive undesirable behavior underground.
4. Learn to listen without always trying to fix them
Parents are, without a doubt, excellent problem solvers. We can mend sprained ankles, broken hearts, tangled friendships, and even solve homework assignments. But, sometimes, our children do not require us to fix them. They want us to listen and understand what they are going through. We are more understanding—and more likely to be listened to—when we see the world through their eyes.
5. Set high but reasonable goals
Parents who set high expectations for their children tend to have children who live up to those expectations, as long as they are communicated warmly within reasonable boundaries and we have our children’s (rather than our own) best interests in mind.
Set high standards for academic achievement, morality, alcohol and drug use, and friendships. You will have a long-lasting positive influence on your children and their decisions if you do it with warmth and kindness.
6. Tell them about your difficulties
Don’t act as if you’re immune to life’s difficulties because you’re a man. Instead, explain some of your difficulties to your children. Give them insight into how you solve problems. Demonstrate to them that good things do not come easy; they require hard work, sacrifice, and a great deal of discipline.
As a father, your resilience in the face of adversity can have a tremendous positive impact on the lives of your children.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/yacobchuk
Emmanuel Abimbola is a creative freelance writer, blogger, and web designer. He is a devout Christian with an uncompromising faith who hails from Ondo State in Nigeria, West Africa. As a lover of kids, Emmanuel runs a small elementary school in Arigidi, Nigeria.