Honoring Fathers

While almost any man can father a child, there is so much more to the important role of being dad in a child’s life. Here is a look at who father is, and why he is so important.

Fathers are central to the emotional well-being of their children; they are capable caretakers and disciplinarians.

Studies show that if your child’s father is affectionate, supportive, and involved, he can contribute greatly to your child’s cognitive, language, and social development, as well as academic achievement, a strong inner core resource, sense of well-being, good self-esteem, and authenticity.

How fathers influence our relationships.

A child’s primary relationship with his/her father can affect all of his/her relationships from birth to death, including those with friends, lovers, and spouses. Those early patterns of interaction with father are the very patterns that will be projected forward into all relationships…forever more: not only your child’s intrinsic idea of who he/she is as he/she relates to others, but also, the range of what your child considers acceptable and loving.

Changing family roles.

Only 20 percent of American households consist of married couples with children. Filling the gap are family structures of all kinds, with dads stepping up to the plate and taking on a myriad of roles. When they are engaged, fathers can really make a difference.

A recent study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development(NICHD), indicates that dads are more engaged in caretaking than ever before. The reasons for this are varied, but they include: mothers working more hours and receiving higher salaries, fathers working less, more psychological consciousness, coping skills, mental illness intervention, self-worth issues, intimacy in marriage, social connection, and better role modeling for children.

Further, children who are well-bonded and loved by involved fathers, tend to have less behavioral problems, and are somewhat inoculated against alcohol and drug abuse. Yet when fathers are less engaged, children are more likely to drop out of school earlier, and to exhibit more problems in behavior and substance abuse. Research indicates that fathers are as important as mothers in their respective roles as caregivers, protectors, financial supporters, and most importantly, models for social and emotional behavior. In fact, a relatively new structure that has emerged in our culture is the stay-at-home dad. This prototype is growing daily, thanks in part to women’s strong financial gain, the recent recession, increase in corporate lay-offs, and men’s emerging strong sense of self.

Thanks, Dad.

Today, Early Head Start took time to honor fathers and the special role they play. It is important to recognize and reward dads for being there, and actively teaching important life skills to children. This, after all, is what makes life worth living. This is your true legacy: ensuring the health and well-being of your children, that future generation to be.

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*Early Head Start Fatherhood Breakfast took place at Morrison’s Cafeteria in Mobile, Alabama on Saturday, June 4, 2016. Many thanks to the staff and guests who worked to make this event a success.

*Adapted from “The Important Role of Dads” by Dr. Gail Gross. Read the article in its entirety at Huffington Post.

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