Father Child Relationship
Anyone can father a
child, but being a dad takes a lifetime. Fathers play a role in every child’s
life that cannot be filled by others. This role can have a large impact on a
child and help shape him or her into the person they become.
Involvement: The Foundation of a Relationship
first step in any relationship is the feeling by both persons that the other is
interested in them and wants to be with them. Many fathers begin to prepare for
this kind of relationship before their child is even born. A father who seeks
involvement is interested in his wife's pregnancy and makes preparations for
the child's birth. When the child is born he is eager to hold the infant. In
countless small ways, this father demonstrates involvement - he may gently
touch and play with his children, hold and talk to them. By doing these things
he sends a clear and emphatic message.
child wants to sense this type of involvement from his or her father and
mother. Without it, a child feels isolated and rejected. The
foundation of the relationship crumbles.
the Research Shows Research on father-child involvement demonstrates
Fathers are significant for children;
Fathers are sensitive to children;
Fathers play with children differently than mothers do.
differences in play continue as the child grows older. Fathers may vigorously
bounce and lift a 1- or 2-year-old in rough and tumble physical play; mothers
may prefer to play conventional games like "peek-a-boo," offer an
interesting toy, or read. Fathers' play appears to be more physically stimulating
while mothers are more interested in teaching.
a result, children seem to prefer fathers as play partners, though in a
stressful situation they may be more likely to turn to their mothers. This
preference could be due to fathers spending a greater proportion of their time
playing with their children than mothers. One researcher noted that about 40
percent of a father's time with his young children was spent in play in contrast
to about 25 percent of the mother's time. Even though fathers may spend less
total time in play than mothers, their type of play and their apparent interest
in that type of involvement make them attractive play partners.
are, of course, exceptions to this pattern. Some men simply do not enjoy
playing with children, and some mothers may prefer an arousing, physical form
of child play. Also, when both parents work, the additional demands on the
family could affect the amount of time one or both parents spend enjoying their
Fathers and Emotional Development
Fathers, like mothers,
are pillars in the development of a child’s emotional well-being. Children look
to their fathers to lay down the rules and enforce them. They also look to
their fathers to provide a feeling of security, both physical and emotional. Children
want to make their fathers proud, and an involved father promotes inner growth
and strength. Studies have shown that when fathers are affectionate and
supportive, it greatly affects a child’s cognitive and social development. It
also instills an overall sense of well-being and self-confidence.
Fathers Set the Bar for Relationships with Others
not only influence who we are inside, but how we have relationships with people
as we grow. The way a father treats his child will influence what he or she
looks for in other people. Friends, lovers, and spouses will all be chosen
based on how the child perceived the meaning of the relationship with his or
her father. The patterns a father sets in the relationships with his children
will dictate how his children relate with other people.
Fathers and Their Daughters
girls depend on their fathers for security and emotional support. A father
shows his daughter what a good relationship with a man is like. If a father is
loving and gentle, his daughter will look for those qualities in men when she’s
old enough to begin dating. If a father is strong and valiant, she will relate
closely to men of the same character.
Fathers and Their Sons
girls, who model their relationships with others based on their father’s
character, boys model themselves after their father’s character. Boys
will seek approval from their fathers from a very young age. As human beings,
we grow up by imitating the behavior of those around us; that’s how we learn to
function in the world. If a father is caring and treats people with respect,
the young boy will grow up much the same. When a father is absent, young boys
look to other male figures to set the “rules” for how to behave and survive in
Suggestions for Fathers
How can fathers become more involved with their children? First,
they can give each of their children exclusive attention as often as possible.
During their time, together fathers could enjoy their children's company
without allowing outside distractions to interfere. As a result, their children
would feel noticed and special. There is no single formula for how this might
be accomplished. A father and child might play, talk, learn a skill or read
together. What is important is that they notice each other and acknowledge a
common interest. This type of undistracted attention promotes a sense that each
is important to the other.
might also give their children a glimpse of their work world. Children want to
know what life is like outside the home and what their parents do at work. Many
farm families and small businesses include their children in the operation at
an early age. Parents in other occupations may find it more difficult to give
their children a glimpse of their work, but even brief visits or tours will
help. Business and industry are gradually beginning to acknowledge that many
workers are parents too, and that adjustment in this role can have a positive
effect on work performance. Some industries provide day care centers for
children of their employees. Both mothers and fathers are able to visit their
children during breaks.
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