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Recently I was sitting in the doctor’s office observing parents interact with their children. I struck up a conversation with a young man who stated he had two small children ages 6 and 9 years old. This young man was a first time father and was interested in how to motivate his children when he gave directives. After a while, Mr. JB was comfortable to share that he did not have a positive father figure when he was growing up and he was eager to learn how to effectively communicate with his children and significant other.
Little attention has been paid to the role fathers play in the dynamics of child development. It is very important for anyone working with fathers, to dispel one common stereotype: the image of fathers as disengaged and uninvolved with their children. At times we perpetuate the stereotype of uninvolved fathers, yet fathers care about their children, but may not show their love in conventional ways.
Some benefits of a positive relationship between mother and father is the behavior it models for children. Fathers who treat the mothers of their children with respect, and deal with conflict within the relationship in an adult and appropriate manner, are more likely to have boys who understand how they are to treat women and who are less likely to act in an aggressive fashion toward females. Girls whose father are involved, see how they should expect men to treat them and are less likely to become involved in violent or unhealthy relationships.
The way fathers play with his children also has an important impact on a child's emotional and social development. Fathers who spend time in a one-on-one interaction allow children to learn how to regulate their feelings and behavior. Rough-housing with fathers, for example, can teach children how to deal with aggressive impulses and physical contact without losing control of their emotions. Children need both parents. Involved fathers can help children lead lives that are happier, healthier and more successful than children whose fathers are absent or involved. Fathers who spend time with their children increase the chances that their children will succeed in school, have fewer behavior problems and experience better self-esteem and well-being. In my opinion, fathers tend to promote independence and a direction to the outside world. Fathers often push achievement while mothers stress nurturing, both of which are important to a healthy development. As a result, children who grow up with involved fathers are more comfortable exploring the world around them and more likely to exhibit self-control and pro-social behavior.
These are some thoughts on how fathers can inspire and can strengthen the lives of his children.