By Lorena Morales
Translated by Lorena Martínez Lombard
In a world where mothers play the central role in their children’s upbringing, it is important to highlight the great socio-emotional benefits of a strong relationship between a father and his children.
Both mothers and fathers have complementary functions. Generally, fathers impulse competitiveness, independence, and the pursuit of achievements, while mothers promote equality, security, and collaboration. If there is something we know for sure, it’s that the more active fathers are in their child’s lives, the more tools they provide for their child’s harmonious development.
Numerous studies have demonstrated that babies that grow up with involved parents have a greater probability of emotional security, confidence, desires to explore new situations, and capacity for handling stress (Father Involvement Research Alliance). They grow up to be more sociable, have a greater capacity for solving problems, and even a higher IQ.
There is no need for extraordinary activities. Daily coexistence is more than enough to create a link and mold conducts that with help them for the rest of their lives. Watching and discussing television programs, playing boardgames or decorating the house are perfect scenarios that will fortify this link.
In an interesting analysis, Bradford Wilcox, sociology professor at the University of Virginia, mentions that fathers directly influence mothers in four areas: games, promoting risks, protection, and discipline.
Wilcox mentions that fathers develop games of higher physical contact, in which children can learn to regulate aggressive impulses without losing control of their emotions.
Likewise, fathers impulse children to take risks: overcome obstacles, talk to strangers, etc. In a study by J. Le Camus (“Les interaction pere-enfant en millieu aquatique”), the author observes fathers and mothers in a swimming pool, and finds that fathers tend to place themselves behind children, allowing them to watch the social environment, while mothers tend to place themselves in front of them, looking to establish visual contact.
In third place, fathers play an important role in blocking negative influences and protecting their children. It has been observed that in families in which the father is absent, their is a higher probability for teenage pregnancies. With a closer relationship, fathers can monitor what happens in their child’s life, including interactions with friends and other adults.
Lastly, generally speaking, fathers are firmer when handling discipline. The fact that they are firmer than mothers – who tend to rationalize with emotional attachment – makes the perfect complement for educating effectively.
Some recommendations for making the best of your relationship with your child, and establishing benefits, are:
- Respect and treat their mother with dignity. Even if you are divorced, the messages you transmit will mold the relationship you will develop further along.
- Love unconditionally. Allow discipline to be exercised according to their conduct, but always conscious that the love you have for your children is greater than their behavior. The good news is that children who feel secure in the love they receive will generally have less conduct problems.
- Act as a father: a leader, not a friend. Your child has to clearly understand that you are their father and have a different hierarchy. This will give them security and confidence to play their part as children.
- Educate with independence. It is your job as a father to motivate your child to confide in their resources and look for solutions, to assume the consequences and act responsibly, always conscious that they can count on you as their guide. They will experiment great satisfaction knowing they are capable by themselves.
- Promote study and overcoming. By example, transmit the importance of reading, being informed and being prepared. Facilitate the means for growth and development.
- Show them to work. Since children, they can begin to learn the value of work and money. With your help, they can undertake activities that allow them to experiment the pleasure of feeling productive.
- Give quality and quantity time. With your presence, show them that they are what is most important. Invite them to activities both in and out of the house, where they can enjoy spaces for dialogue and connection.
- Be kind. Show them your affection and tell them how much you love them. Be compassionate with your errors and ask for forgiveness when necessary. Verbal and non-verbal signs of love will fill their emotional memory with moments when they most need it.
- Show them to have fun. Hobbies you share together will become excellent for enjoying life, having fun, and learning the value of exercise, rest, and being with friends. They will also become endearing memories in the future.
- Ask for help! When you find yourself in a complicated situation with your child, seek help with teachers, counselors, friends with older children or a professional who can help guide you. There also exists interest forums with almost any topic regarding child upbringing. Investigate the best sources and always remember that you are not alone.
The work of a father who is present in their child’s life implies great courage. It is not an easy job, but it conduces great satisfaction. The blessing of having a secure relationship with your child not only impacts their lives, but creates a circle of positive impact that transcends future generations.
Good fathers are irreplaceable pillars who must be honored and maintained close by. Raising our children hand by hand, fathers and mothers will give our child, and the world, an invaluable present.
Thank you fathers!
As an educative program that promotes child rights, Pequeñ@s Ciudadan@s helps create consciousness and foment the right to emotional health. Our team is advised by doctors, psychologists, educators, lawyers and philosophers that share information and activities that promote Culture of Lawfulness in children. We invite you to share our articles and stay informed through our Facebook page.
Lorena Morales is a clinical psychologist, psychotherapist, and thanatologist, specialized in individual, partner, and family therapy. Founder of Blueprint, through which she also provides advice and training for families and educative institutions.