Many people have played a role in shaping who you are. But one figure has an influence on your life like no other: your father. (Travers 2016)
Anyone can father a child, but being a dad takes a lifetime. Fathers play a role in every child’s life that cannot be filled by others. This role can have a large impact on a child and help shape him or her into the person they become.
Fathers and Emotional Development
Fathers, like mothers, are pillars in the development of a child’s emotional well-being. Children look to their fathers to lay down the rules and enforce them. They also look to their fathers to provide a feeling of security, both physical and emotional. Children want to make their fathers proud, and an involved father promotes inner growth and strength. Studies have shown that when fathers are affectionate and supportive, it greatly affects a child’s cognitive and social development. It also instills an overall sense of well-being and self-confidence.
Fathers Set the Bar for Relationships with Others
Fathers not only influence who we are inside, but how we have relationships with people as we grow. The way a father treats his child will influence what he or she looks for in other people. Friends, partners, and spouses will all be chosen based on how the child perceived the meaning of the relationship with his or her father. The patterns a father sets in the relationships with his children will influence how his children relate with other people.
Fathers and Their Daughters
Young girls depend on their fathers for security and emotional support. A father shows his daughter what a good relationship with a man is like. If a father is loving and gentle, his daughter will look for those qualities in men when she’s old enough to begin dating. If a father is strong and valiant, she will relate closely to men of the same character.
Fathers and Their Sons
Unlike girls, who model their relationships with others based on their father’s character, boys model themselves after their father’s character. Boys will seek approval from their fathers from a very young age. As human beings, we grow up by imitating the behavior of those around us. That’s how we learn to function in the world. If a father is caring and treats people with respect, the young boy will grow up much the same. When a father is absent, young boys look to other male figures to set the “rules” for how to behave and survive in the world.
So, don’t forget to tell your dad you love him, and thanks for being there!
- Michelle Ferguson, M.A., CCJP, GCDF, DADS MATTER Program Supervisor
Special acknowledgement and compliments to the Pediatric Associates of Franklin, Family Partner in Pediatric Care