For a child’s healthy and harmonious development, it is necessary for both parents to actively participate in their upbringing. However, fathers often only take on the role of “breadwinner” for the family and do not interact much with their children until they grow up. Statistics on this issue are discouraging – on average, dads spend only 7 minutes a day communicating with their children. So why is fatherly attention and care important for children from the first days of life? What roles does a father play in a child’s life?
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The role of a father at different stages of a child’s life
Research on this topic has shown that children whose fathers are actively involved in their development at different stages of growth have fewer problems with behavior, academics, and social interactions. Fatherly parenting influences a child’s overall, intellectual, and psychological development. This influence is noticeable from birth:
- Newborn period. While mothers provide emotional stability, fathers “provide” a sense of security and confidence in newborns. Children become attached to significant adults from the first weeks of life if they receive a lot of attention from them. When the dad responds to crying and other signals, the child becomes attached to him and perceives him as a source of comfort and pleasant emotions. At this stage, mothers give more care and tenderness to children, while fathers focus on physical contact, games, and exercise. This contributes to the development of the baby’s brain.
- Age up to 5-6 years. As they grow and develop, curiosity and the need to constantly explore something new come to the fore. At this stage, the father takes on the role of a “guide,” who not only helps in studying the surrounding world but also sets necessary restrictions for safety. Mothers are more engaged in household chores, while fathers become playmates for their children. They help solve emerging problems, teach coping with failures, and encourage the child to show their strengths.
- School period. At this stage, fathers encourage children to be independent in decision-making and self-confident, while mothers continue to care and sometimes overly protect. The father shows the child that the world is not perfect and helps him to socially adapt and cope with difficulties.
At all stages of a child’s growth, they learn from their father respect for other people. At first, it’s respect for the mother, then for others around them. Children copy paternal behavior, observing his actions and attitude towards others. If the father is cruel or offensive, the child will decide that this is normal and will follow this model of behavior in the future. Therefore, it is especially important to behave politely, respectfully, and decently towards others, setting an example for your son or daughter.
Why do fathers not strive to communicate with their children?
Many men know and realize their role in the development of a child, but continue to distance themselves from their upbringing. This happens for a number of reasons, the main of which is the lack of desire to show themselves in a new role. Often, a future or young father is not ready for fatherhood, does not have a need for the appearance of a baby, and his “paternal instinct” is still asleep. To prevent this from happening, it is necessary for the planning and conception of a child to occur by mutual desire. A man should feel that he is ready to take on such responsibility, and not just “agree” with his wife’s desire.
There may also be other reasons why a father does not strive to fully participate in upbringing:
- he himself did not have experience communicating with a caring and involved father in childhood;
- he does not know how or what to do with the child;
- he is afraid of looking silly, unskilled, and making mistakes;
- he feels disapproval from his wife.
The last reason is worth discussing in more detail. Very often, it is mothers who prevent close communication between fathers and their children. The familiar phrase “I will do everything myself” is based on fear and unwillingness to share the care and upbringing of the child with the husband. And if at the same time, the young father also has fear or no special desire, then he can get stuck in the role of only an outsider observer for a long time.
Various roles of a father in raising and developing children
Both mother and father play important but different roles in raising children. However, these roles should not be confused with parental duties (care, meeting needs), which can be shared equally between parents and interchangeably. Raising a child encompasses physical, intellectual, social, and emotional development, as well as contributing to the child’s well-being in all areas of life.
As a father, a man performs the following important roles:
- Companion in active games. Mothers are strong in creative activities, and intellectual development, while fathers are better at more active and physical activities. With an infant, he can transform into a “horse” for a while, play ball, or ride bicycles with preschoolers and teenagers.
- Mentor and teacher. Even as they grow up, children will remember how you taught them to play soccer or didn’t give up on chess. How you challenged them to become better and more successful, how you taught them to get up after falling. Mothers love their sons and daughters unconditionally, but paternal love is more demanding, pushing them toward development and reaching new heights. It is important not to go too far and maintain a balance between expectations and accepting your child.
- Protector. The man’s task is to protect his family from any danger. And also teach the child to defend themselves, deal with life difficulties, and resolve conflict situations.
- Role model. A daughter looks at her father as the first ideal man in her life. She expects that other men will treat her with the same respect as he does. Of course, if he shows her this respect and makes her feel like a real princess. A son grows up as a copy of his father. If he sees that Dad respects Mom and the other women in the family, he will grow up to be a decent man. He will “copy” his father’s life priorities, honesty, and other principles.
In some families, all these roles are performed by the mother. Perhaps she does it well, but they are still masculine and paternal roles. The role of a mother in a child’s life is invaluable, but the importance of a father should not be underestimated. The skills passed on by the father help children become strong, self-sufficient, and confident. And it is important to remember that the father does not stop performing these functions as the children grow up. If a strong bond is established between them from the first weeks of life, it will only strengthen over the years!