Family institution is one of the most essential elements of society. It plays a crucial role in developing and shaping of personality for each and every member. The way the family functions depends on its structure, emotional atmosphere within it, as well as the figures of parents. All these items not only influence the well-being of a family, but play an important role in the development of a child, his or her psychological health, and the way this child will integrate into the society in the future. The place that the parents occupy in the life of a child is especially important. First of all, the importance of the father figure for both male and female young children will be examined in this paper. Then, the results of father’s absence for a child will be highlighted. Also, the role that father plays in the development of the male offspring will be explored. Finally, the reasons why father figure is important for a child will be outlined.
From the early times the primary structure of the human society has been a family. Family as a part of societal structure contributes a lot not only to the upsurge of population, but also to the formation of a society of healthy human personalities. First of all, to reach this purpose, the relations among the family members, including both parents and children, should be balances and healthy. It is parents who are the very first role models for their children. A child learns from parents how to apprehend the world. For these purposes, a child needs to communicate both with mother and father since an early age to create a harmonious vision of family and his or her place in it. That is why presence of both parents in a child’s early life plays a crucial role for the child’s further development. Simultaneously, the absence of one of the parents may be traumatic and may lead to various grave consequences in adulthood. Therefore, why is the role of the father so important?
In every civilized society there has always been an opinion that the mother occupies a significant place in the life of a child. This theory appears to be very durable until today. Such a view was based on a traditional perception of the mother figure as a birth-giver and caregiver. Her duty has always been to value family over everything else. According to Scott Coltrane, “as sociologists and psychologists have noted, our culture holds unrealistically high expectations that mothers will sacrifice their own needs for their children” (1996). However, recent sociological research show that the role of the father is no less important. As Dr. David Popenoe emphasized, “Fathers are far more than just “second adults” in the home. Involved fathers bring positive benefits to their children that no other person is as likely to bring”. (1996).
The primary importance of the father is the idea of the balanced and safe atmosphere in the family. From the very beginning, when a baby is able to recognize not only the mother’s, but also the father’s presence, it feels calm and relaxed. The child is secure when parents react promptly and appropriately to his cries or other signals (“How do fathers fit in?,” n.d.). On the contrary, in the case of a father’s absence, the child’s vision of the world becomes disharmonic causing the feelings of loneliness and lack of love. Besides, a child that lacks father’s attention may adopt a wrong or abnormal role model. The children that grow without fathers are more likely to be involved in aggressive behavior. They often have educational problems at school. Psychiatric problems in adulthood are also possible. Psychologists agree that babies with a secure attachment to their parents are more likely to develop into the happy, successful, and well-adjusted adults (“How do fathers fit in?,” n.d.).
Besides, children with fathers have both social and academic advantage over children with distant or no relationships with their male parent (Finello, n.d.). Children who have a constant contact with their male parent not only do better at school, but have better social and language skills. They experience less behavioral problems than those who have poor relationships with their fathers (Finello, n.d.). Obviously, the father’s attention gives a sense of being needed and cared about. The child feels that his or her life and personality are important. Another important feature is that when the father is reliable and involved in the family life, he contributes to his wife’s role as an efficient parent (“How do fathers fit in?,” n.d.). This aspect also has positive influence on the child.
In some cases the father’s role may be even more important - for example, when it comes to male children. Its is obvious that the father figure is an integral part of male children’s lives. Fatherhood in itself has always been associated with being a family patriarch and provider (Coltrane, 1997, p. 4). Besides, the father has always been a role model for his son as well. Traditionally, the father embodies such characteristics as courage, ability to face challenges, confidence, and determination. Naturally, a mother cannot be a good model for such features. Therefore, these features are initially male, and a boy can learn them from his father.
It is through the communication and play with father when a boy learns how to interact with the world. Through the rough-and-tumble games the father challenges his child by encouraging the exploration of his own ability to do new things and impact the world around (“How do fathers fit in?,” n.d.). From their fathers boys learn what it means to be a man. They acquire masculinity and apprehend the male behavior. Unlike the mother who is typically nurturing, soft and protective, the father comes out as a challenging, playful, and physical person. The presence of a positive father figure balances such two poles of a child’s personality as protection and reasonable risk-taking, or masculinity and femininity (“The importance of positive male role models,” n.d.).
Close relationships with the father also contribute a lot to the normal emotional development of a child. In this respect, the father can participate not only by playing, but also through the direct teaching and daily interaction (“How do fathers fit in?,” n.d.). A father figure helps the child learns how to express his own emotions in a right way, as well as how to control his impulses. As a result, a child also grows into the less aggressive and more emotionally intelligent adult.
According to the research, fathers are an integral part of their sons’ healthy cognitive, emotional, and physical growth. Boys whose fathers show their love to them in caring ways have less problems in the future, e.g. with delinquent behavior (“What boys learn from their dads,” n.d.).
It does not matter how exactly the father is involved in his son’s life. It can mean playing together, simply being beside a toddler when he is exploring the world, or expressing interest in the child’s activities. What matters most is the value of this involvement, not even the time spent together (Marsiglio, & Roy, 2012) . For boys having strong bounds with their fathers means learning about men and typical male aspects of life. From the father a boy can learn how to behave in a correct manner. It is father who can teach to overcome the difficulties and to stand up for oneself. When a boy spends time with his father hiking, socializing or meeting his male friends, he immerses into the male world with its specific rules and relations. Later, it is the father from whom a youngster learns how to behave with girls. Additionally, there are many other things only a father can teach.
At the young age of the child the father plays a role that contributes to the development of such features as emotional security, self-esteem, independence, and creativity (“The important role of fathers in the lives of young children,” n.d.). Children, and boys in particular, who had good relationships with their fathers in their childhood, have less behavioral, emotional, and social adaptation problems during the teen years and later in life.
According to all the above information, it becomes clear that the role of the father figure is very essential in the life of a child. A child that is growing up with a father develops a balanced personality. He is provided with love and attention from both parents. It especially applies to the male children. For them a constant and strong relationship with the father is the integral part of development of their personality and formation of their character. Also, the father helps to explore the world from the point that the mother usually cannot (e.g. learning about the relations and rules in the male world). Fathers become crucial figures for their sons when it comes to learning masculinity and typical male characteristics or personalities. When the father is present and involved, he contributes a lot to his male child’s normal social, language, and motor skills (Scott & De La Hunt, 2011). He helps his child to form a healthy personality and become a worthy member of society.