Dads: You Do Far More Good Than You Know
For thousands of years, humankind has known (and very much appreciated) the impact of mothers. While the personal lives and expectations of mothers have changed over the years, what hasn’t changed is that the word ‘mother’ is broadly synonymous with nurturing, unconditional love, and emotional protection. But when it comes to families and children, mothers are only half the equation. And as Father’s Day approaches, we wanted to take a second to examine the amazing effects that fathers have on their children.
Fathers Can Be Great Nurturers
In modern American society, fathers are (often incorrectly) stereotyped as less emotionally present and connected to their children. But recent research has indicated that fathers can be just as physically and emotionally nurturing as mothers – and this is especially true when they’re the only parent in the household.
So why is it our societal expectation that fathers aren’t as nurturing as mothers? Some psychologists point to economic factors being the key to how fathers are viewed. Before the Industrial Revolution, most fathers tended to work in or near the home, and running the farm, ranch, or local business was much more of a team effort (with the team, of course, being their family.) This meant that fathers spent more time with their children, teaching them, talking with them, helping them, and yes, nurturing them.
During the Industrial Revolution and subsequent urbanization, many fathers went to work outside of the home. Mothers, in turn, spent the bulk of their time at home with the children. While this domestic setup had its own set of advantages and disadvantages, it tended to remove fathers from the lives of their children except on evenings and weekends. And often, fathers weren’t expected to participate in the nurturing of their children even then (though many still did.)
In recent years, expectations have once again started to circle back towards fathers sharing in the nurturing role with mothers. As more women have entered the workforce, and in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its push back towards working from home, society’s expectation of fathers has once again started to change. Generally speaking, men are starting to take a greater interest in the nurturing of their children.
Fathers Add Stability – For Both Boys And Girls
It’s no secret that dads have a special bond with both their daughters and their sons. Many psychologists have suggested that good father-son relationships are key in shaping boys – and later, men – who can have stable, loving, committed relationships. Boys have a special need during early and middle childhood to bond with a father or father figure. This provides a ‘safe place’ where they can be lovingly taught what is expected of them, including how to treat women and girls with respect.
Studies also suggest that fathers who are present and caring have a significant stabilizing influence on their daughters. One study showed that “Girls whose fathers left either before they were born or up to age 5 were seven to eight times more at risk of becoming pregnant as an adolescent than girls living with their fathers. A father’s departure between ages 6 to13 suggested a two to three times greater risk of becoming pregnant [early]” (Ellis 2003).
It truly is amazing the effect that fathers have on their children – and it’s important that we begin to recognize it so that dads can feel empowered to reach their full potential.
A Word Of Comfort
We know as well as you do that life rarely hands anyone a ‘perfect’ situation, especially when it comes to family. Factors like economic hardship, mental illness, accident, disability, death, divorce, abandonment, and others are very real and potent factors in the lives of many. All of us will face struggles, but the good news is that we have the power to rise above them – both as parents and as children. If you grew up without a father in the home, or, for whatever reason, don’t have a good relationship with your father, you can still have a good, fulfilling, and happy life. You can still be a good life partner and act as a role model for the children in your life. Please seek help from loving family members (both blood and adopted), trusted friends, and competent professionals as you seek to become your best self.
Fathers: we know that sometimes it feels like the whole world is on your shoulders. It’s not easy being a parent, but odds are, you’re doing a very good job. Just love your children, care for them, and teach them what’s right. You have many resources available to help you in your journey as a father, from the important men (and women) in your own life to parenting books full of advice. All you need to do is the best you can. Fathers, we love, support, and salute you!
Have questions or comments? We would love to hear from you! Get in touch with our Cheyenne office today by calling 307-631-5574.