Fathers will be able to embrace quality time with their children.Source: National Features
DEADBEAT dads has a certain ring to it, probably because we’ve heard it so often.
But for every father who is at best useless and at worst destructive in the lives of their children, there are others who are absolutely brilliant.
The trouble is society doesn’t celebrate fatherhood nearly enough.
Consider how hard it is to find a Father’s Day card that isn’t at pains to be humorous usually with some glib reference to dad getting blotto on his special day because, of course, drinking too much is what truly makes dad happy.
The majority of cards are trite, token and undersell the role of a father.
Mr Fix Its they might be, but dads can do so much more than change light bulbs.
It’s a different story for Mother’s Day the range of cards is huge, diverse, noticeably light on humour and big on schmaltz.
It’s mum who makes the most sacrifices, who is the primary care giver, the family rock. This is not always the case.
Traditionally, scientific research and psychological opinion have concentrated on the importance of mothers, which goes a way in explaining why, in custodial disputes, courts find overwhelmingly in favour of the female parent.
How a child turns out, be it positively or negatively, is also routinely attributed to a mother’s influence.
Gradually, though, scientists are discovering how much fathers matter.
Tell us why your dad matters so much in the comments section below.
At the University of Connecticut’s Centre for the Study of Interpersonal Acceptance and Rejection, director Ronald Rohner and his team recently reviewed decades of international research on parental acceptance and rejection.
What emerged was that in many cases, fathers were more influential on their kids’ development than mothers.
“Knowing that kids feel loved by their father is a better predictor of young adults’ sense of wellbeing, of happiness, of life satisfaction than knowing about the extent to which they feel loved by their mothers,” Rohner says.
Similarly, behavioural problems, delinquency, depression, substance abuse and general mental health were more closely aligned to dad’s rejection than mum’s.
The findings, published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Review, showed those rejected in childhood felt more anxious, insecure and aggressive later in life.
Significantly, Rohner looked only at father figures, so the results do not apply to absentee dads.
What they do indicate is the power, particularly in single mother households, of male mentors, be they grandparents, teachers, uncles, coaches or family friends.
In another recent study, of two-parent homes, Brigham Young University (Hawaii) researchers found that dads who listened to their children, built a close relationship, set and upheld limits and granted age-appropriate freedoms were more likely than mothers to teach their children perseverance.
And perseverance is a key quality that promotes resilience and, in turn, decreases the chance of delinquency.
Dads who put in real time and effort can work wonders.
Of course, study findings can be interpreted in different ways, and there is abundant research that reinforces the importance of mother love.
To my mind, it’s not a case of which gender is more significant, but of acknowledging that children need mentors of both sexes in order to achieve their full potential.
Divorce, single-parent families and increasingly busy and fractured lives are hallmarks of today’s social wallpaper.
Now, perhaps more than ever, it’s important to remind ourselves that it takes a village to raise a child, and dads are a vital part of that village.