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Δευτέρα, 14 Ιουλίου 2014

THE IMPORTANCE OF FATHERS





THE IMPORTANCE OF FATHERS


Excerpted from an article by Stephen F. Duncan, Ph.D, professor of Family & Human Development Specialties, MSU Extension Service, from the parish newsletter of Saint Lawrence Orthodox Parish, Felton, CA.
American society is now coming to the close of an era when many secular authorities discounted the role of fathers in families. Recently, scientists have discovered fathers. There are two major trends in American fatherhood today: father absence and father involvement.


A large and increasing number of children are being raised without the continued presence of a father. While the number of American families since 1970 has risen 20 percent, the number of mother-only families has increased by 51 percent.The most extensive study to date on this topic concluded, that “Children who grow up in a household with only one biological parent are worse off, on average, than children who grow up in a household with both of their biological parents, regardless of the parents’ race or educational background, regardless of whether the parents are married when the child is born, and regardless of whether the resident parent remarries.”


In pre-industrial revolution times, fathers “played a central role in the family. Prior to the late i8rh and early 19th centuries, fathers were intimately involved in the daily lives of their children. Fathers taught their children how to work and worked along side of them, especially sons. Fathers were also responsible for teaching their children spiritual values and to read and write, if they were literate themselves.” With industrialization and urbanization came the separation of the work sphere from the family residence for most families. Fathers typically left home to work in factories and were separated from their families not just for eight hours, but often for 14—16 hours. This work away from home hindered their role in domestic affairs. Fathers more often were “absentee managers” and became more emotionally distant.
More recently, a new kind of father is emerging, resembling more closely those of pre-industrial eras. This father still plays a major breadwinner role but is also more involved in domestic tasks and caring for children. Father involvement makes a real difference. Kids do better when their relation¬ship with Dad is close and warm.


Dads & Babies



Children form attachments to fathers as well as mothers from age 7—13 months. By 15 months, a greater percentage of children would respond with “Daddy” when shown their father’s picture than would respond to their mother’s picture. During the first weeks in a baby’s life, when moms are usually at home, dads become the child’s “most significant other.” It is through the father that the baby first learns about comings and goings, transitions, separations and non-mother nurturing.
Fathers are as capable as mothers of caretaking, demonstrating competence, and being sensitive to a child’s needs. Fathers are actually better at keeping a baby’s attention.


Children whose fathers were actively involved with them during the first eight weeks of life managed stress better as elementary students.
Premature infants whose fathers spent more time playing with them had better mental development by age 3, whether their father resided in the same house or not.
Play is a more prominent part of father-child than mother- child relations. Fathers are more likely to initiate rough and tumble play while mothers are more likely to initiate organized games and teaching. Children prefer Dad as a play partner, but more often go to Mom in stressful situations.


Modeling


Sons of nurturing fathers are more likely to model and internalize their modes of thinking and problem-solving. A close and warm relationship with Dad fosters a daughter’s sense of competence especially in math skills, and a secure sense of femininity.
Fathers play a major role in preparing children for life outside the family. Fathers’ emotional support of Mom greatly influences the general well-being of children.
Later Development
On average, when compared with children of less involved fathers:
(1)       Children of highly involved fathers show increased cognitive competence, increased empathy, enhanced school performance, greater motivation to succeed, enhanced social development and self-esteem, less sex-stereotyped beliefs, stronger gender identity and character, and more intrinsic motivation.
(2)       Children of highly involved fathers have fewer psycho-logical and behavioral problems, are less likely to become delinquent, and are less likely to use drugs.


Personal & Family Benefits


Fathers also benefit personally from their involvement. Men’s sense of personal happiness and satisfaction is more strongly linked to their family roles than their work roles. Men who invest in children have better overall health and lower levels of psychological distress. Involved fathers tend to be more giving and caring when they reach middle age.


And, contrary to expectation, involved fathers can actu¬ally achieve high levels of job success. For instance, in one four-decade study, involved fathers were more likely to have advanced in their occupations, when compared with less involved dads.
In two-parent families, when Dad is actively involved with the kids, Morn’s stress level goes down, and both parents feel more fulfilled. This has a positive impact on the parents’ marriage and on the children.



Being a Great Dad


Being a dad today is more complicated than it used to be. Dads were once expected to “bring home the bacon” while Moms raised the children. Nowadays, the message is differ¬ent. Dads should still be a major breadwinner, but more is expected, regardless of whether or not Mom works outside the home. He should be willing to change diapers, dress children, cook meals, clean house, volunteer at school and help do all those things that his wife used to be expected to do alone. There is a clear message out there: Dad, you ought to be a more involved father, and Mom, you need to let Dad get involved.



Final Tips



Nurture your marriage first, prioritize fatherhood, get involved with your child from the beginning, learn the fatherhood craft, have regular one-on-one time with each child, show affection often, take kids to work, stay connected when you have to be away, and teach them. Connect with your child at all levels. Fathering is essential for our children’s spiritual, intellectual and psychological growth and development.

Vol. 18, Issue 05-06


ORTHODOX HERITAGE.

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