Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Role Of Fathers In Child Parenting

Although the role of mothers has changed little over the years, the role of fathers has changed considerably, particularly over the past 150 years.

During the second half of the nineteenth century, often referred to as the Victorian Era, the father was a very distant and rarely seen figure as far as children were concerned and his responsibility was largely confined to being the family's 'law giver'. This changed during the early part of the twentieth century, due in no small part to the influence of Freud, and by the middle of the century fathers were seen much more as being the family's 'wise breadwinner'.

As we moved into the 1960s and 1970s however fathers were once more given a back seat role and many people viewed them as nothing more than 'sperm donors'. Today, it's difficult to define the role of fathers and it's very much a case of 'ask ten people and you'll get eleven opinions'.

So where do we start in trying to define a father's role? Well, the answer is that we have to return to basics and ask a few fundamental questions such as "what effect does their presence (or absence) have on the family?"and "why do children need a father?"

In trying to answer these and other similar questions the first difficulty that you encounter is that there is a wide variety of opinions. However, one thing that most studies agree upon is that children do not normally fair as well in the absence of a father and poor performance at schools, drug use, violent behavior and criminal activity are more frequently seen in children who are raised without a father. But trying to determine just why this should be the case is not easy.

It seems likely that there is no single cause and that a combination of financial, psychological and other factors are involved. Whatever the cause, it would nonetheless seem that children need a father if they are to get the best start in life.

Apart from the traditional role of being the breadwinner and providing the basic necessities of food and shelter, fathers are also undoubtedly seen as providing such things as protection for their daughters and a role model for their sons. However, many suggest that it is the role the father plays as one half of the parental partnership that is perhaps the most important.

Children are strongly influenced by everything that they see and hear and they see and hear a great deal more than we often realize. Observing the roles of mom and dad working together, children learn a great deal from the way in which matters are discussed and decisions made. The manner in which responsibilities are divided between the parents with mom taking care of such things as bedtime routines, diet and household chores and dad being the guardian of such things as the front door (granting permission for the children to spend time with friends or go the mall) and taking care of the issue of pocket money, provides children with a model of parenting and teaches them a variety of skills.

This, combined with a host of other experiences common in a two parent household, helps to shape a child's view of the adult world and of the interaction between the sexes.

We could of course continue to develop this further and look in more detail at just how the interaction of two parents influences the children, but things begin to get a little bit complicated when we start to consider such things as the personalities of the two parents and the strength or otherwise of their own relationship. Looking at the possibilities here would means looking at literally hundreds of different scenarios.

Perhaps the simplest answer to our original question of what a father's role is would be to say that it is many different things to different people and, while we could try to define it, perhaps it's simply enough to say that the presence of a father in a child's life is important and that, in general, children are better off with a father than without one.


voltrek said...

I would just like to say that the role of the father has changed considerably from just providing protection, money, and influences. It is, as you say, somewhat of an opinion, but also a personality trait and I believe a larger trend that fathers are just doing a whole lot more than what they used to. So, this changes the Roles in some fathers eyes, im sure. In mine, for instance, I am getting involved in everything i can. But, I am now a single dad going through a circumstances are special. But, even when I was living with my wife after the birth, i was doing everything i could, around the clock. And I know that I am not the only father feeling like they want to be involved. I almost wished I could carry the baby for my wife sometime.

Anthony Peterson said...

If we were to remove judges that manipulate child visitation/custody hearings, that could create an environment of neutral parties. Simply telling custodial parents that they have greater role facilitating parenting between thier child(ren) and the non-custodial parent just does'nt do it.....i've experienced both 1) the dirty end of being the non-custodial parent and 2) the nurturing, supportive and facilitator of my three children relationship w/ their mother as a custodial parent. Talk is cheap.

Jeffery's said...

Anyone who can't for some reason believe in God and his plan for us, will in no wise understand what truely a father's role is. When we talk of things of the Great Spirit that all of us converse with (sometimes unknowingly) we come to realize that everything on this earth-life is spiritual. Everything has meaning and a purpose. God is our father and any characteristics we want to hold to him, then those are the characteristics we as fathers need to have. And these aren't characteristics like dictatorship or unrighteous dominion. Fathers need compasion, love, understanding, and charity. Patience for the children that will fall at times, but the father needs to be there to help pick them up, a Spiritual leader he will need to be.....but again, never leaving the counsel of his wife. using her as a helpmeet, an equal partner in all decisions, Life can truely be a special place to raise children in a place that seems so far from God. But it's not. He's right there for help if we ask. The Church Of Jesus Christ teaches these truths in such vastness it's hard to explain what I know. But I know it's true.

Dinesh Franklin A said...

came from GOD; i call him DAD

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