Traditionally,in the past, raising a child was considered solely a mother’s job. Father’s role would be minimised to being strict disciplinarians to their children. This created an abyss causing both children and fathers wanting more of the relationship. Today,many fathers long to play an active role in raising their children although they may not be able to do so due to work pressures and time constraints. Fathers are beginning to become aware of the crucial role they play towards the healthy development of children. So now both parents are more accessible to their children , making raising children a shared responsibility.
Fathers are looking for opportunities to be as hands-on as possible in raising their children. And mothers are involving their spouse in all aspects of their children’s lives. Fathers may choose to spend time with their children with simple acts like helping with school work,going on holidays and having conversations on topics that are of interest to them. The available and approachable father builds awareness of feelings and emotions for daughters and sons. Having a strong bond with their fathers helps daughters to grow up with a good self esteem contributing to informed decision making from education to choosing a life partner. Boys on the other hand tend to model their father’s behaviour as grown men.
Another change these days is that fathers are taking on the responsibility for household chores like cooking, folding clothes,shopping for groceries,dropping and picking children,washing dishes etc. Growing up in this environment teaches children that everyone in the family contributes to each other’s well being and shares responsibility of running the house. Consequently, stereotypes are being broken down and no tasks in the house are seen as gender specific.
Specifically, from the father, children learn risk taking and problem solving skills. Fathers encourage children to climb high on a jungle gym,run fast which helps children to push their limits.With more interaction, rough housing/play fighting with the father, children learn better self-control so there is less aggression. Children learn to listen and follow rules and understand that winning and losing are part of the game.
This is what a mother in our workshop shared, “My husband would rough house with our two young daughters ,running around the house and wrestling with them on the floor. It used to drive me crazy. I would yell at him saying, what is the need for this . Now my daughters who are 14 and 18 years old have grown to be assertive,sporty and comfortable with their bodies.This has made me realise the value of such play.”
Research indicates that children with involved fathers or a father figure in their lives tend to have a higher IQ, better language skills and display readiness for academics.Close relationships with their fathers result in children growing to be emotionally stable, having good self-esteem, and able to handle stress and frustration effectively. They are less prone to the use of drugs and alcohol , depression and disruptive behaviour.The warmth and nurturance fathers shower helps children to be tolerant and understanding adults.
“My father didn't tell me how to live;he lived, and let me watch him do ― Clarence Budington Kelland
Author: Seemanthini Iyer is a certified parent educator with Parenting Matters, an organization which empowers parents to build deeper connection in families.