Perhaps I should say, fathers can be parents, too. I have had many discussions with fathers who want to be the best father they can be, but feel they don’t know how…have not been prepped well, not invited in to be a partner, or just didn’t feel they could do the job especially with the girl child of the family. But…
It’s time to officially celebrate fathers. Last month we celebrated mothers and their essential role on the front lines of family health.
Most fathers are right there with her, with roles that are somewhat different but so much the same.
Fathers are strengthening their role as the champions of their children, claiming bragging rights about being good dads. Time was, when men wanted to feel good about themselves it was achievement, money and how many toys they had. They never got too much recognition from others and society for being a good father. Things change.
But change does not come easy. Even good changes are difficult to accept in the reprogramming. History has presented fathers and mothers in rigid roles defined and protected by society. Parenting was the mother’s job. Fathers were the breadwinners. Generally speaking, mother has always been the nurturer, father the bill-payer and disciplinarian. Mothers were always seen as the “senior partner” of the parenting team. And, all too often, “parent involvement” really meant “mother involvement.”
In the last few years, those defined roles have been turned upside down by needs, and the rearranging of how the world works today. The rigidity has loosened in major ways.
Better fathering can mean better marriages or relationships. New dads feel freer, more sensitive to the feelings of self and others; and are able to demonstrate values to children by their own behavior.
Paternal praise, support and encouragement for children are associated with better behavior and achievement in school, while father absence increases vulnerability and aggressiveness. When I say “absence” I’m not talking about just not being in their lives physically. I call it “absent in place” … not being there emotionally, psychologically, spiritually. Rejection can affect the child’s sense of self-worth, and there is a definite connection between father absence and crime, drugs and suicide. Some fathers even force relationships, in ways more damaging than helpful. The “fix everything” father, the “read my lips” father, the “you’ll do it because I say so” father … none very effective in raising children, and today’s fathers are embracing that truth.
They are now reflecting on their childhood with their fathers. They feel that they can make needed change without dishonoring, or blaming them for whatever. They look at what was, hopefully improve their lives by reparenting and self-help programs making their roles of father better for all.
Any man who is truly engaged with the lives of his children will tell you that there is nothing like the fire of commitment to being a “liked” and “loved” dad. They are not here to just sit around, watch TV, play golf or go fishing … and bring home bacon. They are meant to be a mutual partner in the vital role of parenting, a team player in all the many ways a successful family operates.
Parenting is not just for mothers.
So, let’s celebrate Father’s Day knowing that while children desperately need their mothers, they also no less desperately need their fathers. Thank goodness, we are all getting to know it. For fatherhood information, check out A Father’s Place in Conway.
Mothers, I hope you are able to affirm and encourage the efforts fathers are offering to be a responsible effective parent and a dedicated partner … your children need you both … and to you both…
Don’t lose heart!
Jim R. Rogers, M.Ed., CFLE