9 reasons to celebrate fathers


“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person – he believed in me.” – Jim Valvano.

Fathers can be excellent role models for their children, and a father’s behavior can shape a child’s behavior from birth onward. Early modeling of their parents shapes a child’s view of the world and themselves in relation to it. And, therefore, a father’s ability to be a positive role model is essential to child’s internal sense of safety.

My father is the greatest role model in my life. I say this because he instilled in me the belief that there is nothing that I can’t accomplish if I put my mind to it. And he displayed this belief in the way he lived. He modeled how to endure tough times, and he often advised me that, “Life is an experience — enjoy it. Do the best you can with it and don’t worry about the rest.”

The importance of a father in a child’s life cannot be overestimated. Studies show that if your child’s father is affectionate, supportive and involved, he can contribute greatly to your child’s positive development in the areas of cognition, language and social development, as well as academic achievement, self-esteem and authenticity. Whereas children with involved fathers tend to thrive, children with uninvolved fathers have risk factors in the areas of juvenile delinquency, substance abuse, sexual abuse and early pregnancy, according to Randall Flanery, a pediatric psychologist at Saint Louis Behavioral Medicine Institute. The high school drop-out rate is six times higher for children whose biological fathers are not part of their lives, he says.

Fathers are omnipotent in the eyes of a child. Here are nine ways that our fathers influence our lives as children and beyond into adulthood:

1. Fathers shape our relationships. Our relationship to our father serves as a foundation for how we will relate to others. Those early patterns of interaction with a father are the very patterns that will be projected forward into all relationships … forever more: not only your child’s internal belief of who they are, but also the range of what your child considers acceptable and loving. Girls will seek men that are familiar and that they know they can relate to based on their relationship with their father. Boys, on the other hand, will model themselves after their fathers. They will look for their father’s approval in their actions and copy their father’s behaviors that they view as successful and attractive.

2. Fathers influence our desire to achieve. Studies show that girls who have good relationships with their fathers tend to do better in math, and boys who have actively involved fathers tend to have better grades and perform better on achievement tests.

3. Fathers foster identity development and self-esteem. Boys who are closely connected to their dad develop a stable and sustained sense of self. Girls who have a healthy and close relationship to their dad have the confidence to take more risks that allow them to compete with males, and they are more likely to view themselves as an equal to males.

4. A father’s relationship to mom teaches children how to treat others. Fathers who are respectful and caring to their child’s mother — whether married or divorced — teach their children to respect women, adults and, in that process, themselves. Children who learn respect early on develop and feel internal competency that allows them to feel safe in the world at large.

5. Involved fathers make their child feel special. Fathers often have many priorities, and a father who makes the time to connect with his family and his individual children sends an important message that regardless of competing demands, my child is my priority.

6. Fathers promote development of empathy and compassion. In a 26-year-long study, researchers found that the No. 1 factor in developing empathy in children was father involvement. Fathers spending regular time alone with their children translated into children who became compassionate adults.

7. Fathers offer a different perspective. Fathers parent differently from mothers. Fathers allow more physical play, more competition and more risks.

8. Fathers teach discipline and disappointment. Fathers parent by relying on rules, justice, fairness, and duty in discipline. In this way, they teach children the consequences of right and wrong. They give kids insight into the world of men. They prepare them for the challenges of life and demonstrate by example.

9. Fathers are great providers. Fathers embrace the challenge and responsibility of going out into the world each day to provide financial security for their entire family, as if it’s as easy as eating pie.

Thanks, Dads.

Father’s day is June 19th. It’s important to recognize dads for their critical role in a child’s life. Many dads will try to downplay all they do. Don’t let them out of the spotlight; instead, shower them with reminders of how truly special they are.


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