When evaluating a child’s emotional and cognitive development, the main focus of attention is normally put on the mother. The importance of a father is usually relegated for a second plan and they seem to come into the picture only when negative traits are discussed.
The importance of a father in their children’s development
The role of dad is much bigger and important than simply being the family provider. An engaging and caring father also has a big impact on the emotional well-being of children and on the way they shape their social interactions.
They help children find themselves
When both a mother and a father are present through their children development years, they provide them with a set of different personalities they can look up for.
They see an interaction between two different people, with different tastes and characters and how they still manage to work together and be loving and caring towards each other and their offspring,
This provides children with an opportunity to get to know and shape their own personalities without relying simply on the imitation of one of the parents.
According to a 1999 research, by the age of 3, children already believe their own traits and personalities are an extension of those of their parents. When both are present figures, it gives them a wider range of features where they can see themselves reflected in, thus making it easier for them to find themselves.
They play a role in their daughter’s self-esteem
In a 2015 study, researchers evaluated the effect of a good or bad father-daughter relationship could have on the latter.
They concluded that daughters who had a close relationship with their dads and felt loved and cared for presented higher levels of self-esteem, they were more resilient, more self-reliant, more mature and more likely to be successful in school and later professionally.
They were also more likely to delay their first sexual experience and engage in drugs, since they look up to their fathers for reassurance, love and admiration and do not feel the need to look for it externally.
Girls will marry their father
Even if unintentionally, girls tend to look for a partner that exhibits similar traits to their fathers.
Their primary example of a relationship is that of their parents. They grew up watching it, so they will look for something that feels familiar and comfortable. Also, they know how to handle it.
The importance of a father figure extends, then, beyond the present. They also influence the future of their daughters deeper than they might think. If he is caring, gentle and treats the mother with respect, that’s what daughters will be looking for in a partner.
The opposite is also true. Even if they grew up in pain, daughters will still look for a partner with similarities do their dad, either because the situation is familiar or because they believe they can change them.
They are their first superhero
A father is a boy’s first superhero. If the mother is the nurturer, the father is the protector, the big strong man that keeps danger away and fights all the child’s perceived monsters without a shred of fear.
They look up to their fathers to learn how to be a man and they try to imitate them even from an early age. It is not uncommon, for instance, for a small child to want to shave his beard “like a man” side-by-side with their dad.
The father is, then, a very important role model. The child can either grow up imitating a caring, loving and supportive father, or a controlling and abusive one.
They help children perform better in school
According to a 2001 study, children whose dads were supportive and spend more one-on-one time with them helping with their studies were 43% more likely to get As.
These results also put emphasis on the importance of a father figure rather than a biological connection, as they were consistent for step-fathers and single-fathers too.
Fathers have a significant impact in child’s language development
A mother reading to their children improves the odds of them becoming readers themselves, both as children and adults.
The role of the father in the child’s literacy has been overlooked for years, but a 2018 research now says that dads can have a significant impact on the child’s language development.
According to this study, a father reading to his son or daughter from an early age, even accounting for the mother’s involvement, resulted in the child having a better and richer language by the age of 2. This can also be attributed to fathers being less likely to change their speaking patterns, intonation and pronunciation when talking to children.
Don’t be a disengaged father
The importance of a father can be seen through the benefits it brings to the child’s development but also through the negatives.
As mentioned before, an abusive or aggressive dad can shape the child’s social interactions and perspective, but so does his absence. All things considered, if a father is not present he, would have a neutral effect over the bringing of his offspring. However, his absence can also impact greatly on the child’s emotional well-being.
According to a 2011 research, when the father is alive and well, but absent, the children develop feelings of rejection. This absence can be due to them leaving the family or simply spending too much time at work.
The researchers found that this perception of paternal rejection could affect their emotional stability, emotional responsiveness, worldview and perception of self-esteem and self-adequacy. Likewise, it was likely to arise a disposition for hostility, aggression, passive-aggressive, dependence or defensive independence, still has a child and later as adults.
The absence that haunts you
The results of the aforementioned study are obviously generalized. Some children, even if they feel they have been rejected by their father, can turn out to be emotionally balanced and responsible adults. These are the ones who fight the odds and make it through.
However, even then, this absence can still haunt them through life and turn into a daily fight to not let those feelings overcome the happiness and peace they achieved.
Check out below the emotional testimony of Correctional Officer Calvin Williams, who was abandoned by his father when he was 6, and hear him explain the importance of a father figure and why, despite fighting the odds, this absence still lingers in his heart.