Young children of both genders need the active presence and physical contact of their fathers as well as with mothers, not only in “rough housing” and providing “discipline” but also in feeding, tucking her or him in bed and in going to church. Children need to recognize that their father’s handling, though different from their mother’s, is also expressions of love, warmth and nurturement.
Research from varied philosophies, both secular and non-secular, demonstrate, children who had good fathering along with good mothering are more likely to perform better in school, be socially appropriate citizens, have successful, enduring marriages as well as be successful parents. Further, mothers who have the help and support of their childrens’ father with parenting generally experience less anxiety, less fatigue, better mental and physical health.
Attempting to maintain some of past definitions of gender roles is self-defeating as well as destructive to family life especially to the child or children reared in them. Femininity and masculinity depend more on the individual personalities and their strengths, not on some preconceived norms and roles brought forth by academics or clerics.
When parents recognize the value of father in a child’s emotional, physical and social healthy growth and development, both genders will generally and readily modify their routines and schedules in the best interest of their child or children. Since any degree of father deprivation has been found to cause conflicts that interfere with healthy emotional and social growth in children, men should no longer employ arguments for abandoning their families and spouses for personal interests, career growth or financial enrichment for their family’s sake.
It is equally important that both girls and boys have good relationships with their fathers. For a boy or young man, his father is a model of a man. For a girl or young woman, her father is also a model of a man and how a man should act towards her as she ventures out to find her marital partner. A father who is accepting of his daughter demonstrating this with his words, actions and deeds generally makes a girl feel proud she is a girl (woman) while raising her self-esteem and emotional stability.
Over the past 50 years or so, we have witnessed in everyday life as well as results from empirical studies, the importance fathers play in the lives of their children. Based upon what we know and have learned, there are no reasons why fathers can not adjust to the changing roles of women or be fathers to their children.
Read more articles by Stephen A. Peterson or search for articles on the same topic or others.