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The Importance Of Fathers In Children’s Lives

The Importance Of Fathers In Children’s Lives

No one wants to talk about it. But its time. We must discuss and find solutions to the epidemic of missing fathers in the lives of children in America. The study of the importance of fathers in children’s lives is crucial to creating a better society. The statistics on fathers in America will give us insight into the  importance of father involvement in the lives of their children.

The Statistics On Fathers in America

In 2005, at a meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, there are hundreds of scientists unfolding research on children, families, and parenting, and only a dozen or so dealing with fathers. Nearly all the authors of these studies began their talks by stating how little research on fathers had been done.

Kyle D. Pruett, a psychiatrist at Yale who has studied fathers since the 1980s, says that “even when fathers are included in research on such important issues as attention deficit disorder, autism, childhood depression, and teen suicide, the researchers usually fail to consider the father might be part of the solution to the problem.” When we take the time to look for the father’s impact, we will always find it.

Not looking at the impact of fathers and children on one another has given the entire field and the bestselling parenting books it produces a biased and disturbing misleading view of child development, a view with overwhelming blind spots.  The books worth mentioning include those by Dr. Spock, T. Berry Brazelton, and Penelope Leach, among others.

Pruett’s review shows researchers have begun to “nod more often in the father’s direction,” but “in their souls they couldn’t get past the old enticement of the sacred mother infant bond.”  The dismissal of fathers could not have been clearer. The mark of progress was that most researchers were beginning to recognize the problem and point it out.  This disregard of fathers propagates images that are inaccurate, dismissive, and unkind.

History points to cartoons beginning in the 1920s, which portrayed fathers as a clumsy fool who “did not know how to control or discipline his children. He could not cook a meal or put his children to bed without tripping over his shoelaces.”

This was only the beginning: fathers were charged with more serious offenses than forgetting the kid’s homework or burning the chicken. Some social critics even blamed fathers for undermining national security during World War II. They argued that the failure of many young recruits to pass their physicals was a problem created by concerned mothers and absent fathers, who had made sons too soft, weak, and cowardly to fight.

The exceptions to these stereo types were: The Cosby Show  and Father Knows Best on television. We see the dismissal of fathers in our sports and commercials. Many fathers are now quicker to challenge such stereotypes, and it’s likely that more advertisers will find other ways to market their products.  Even though the number of studies on fathers still lags far behind those on mothers, the amount of research on fathers is rapidly growing.

It is important to do fatherhood research. The evolution of fathers can be found by looking at what we know about the family life of our prehistoric ancestors as a way to get a better grip on the role of fathers in our present and future. Learning how our individual family’s backgrounds have prepared men to be fathers.  The discussion that needs to be had is the tug-of-war between the genes of mothers and fathers that begin at conception.

We must explore fatherhood as children grow the changes that occur in fathers during pregnancy, what we know about fathers after birth.  A detour into commitment in humans and its impact for fathers and mothers should be explored.  We need to discuss how fathers and infants are far more connected than once thought, the hormonal changes men undergo in response to the stages of their children’s lives, and looking at what fathers do.

It’s difficult not to be unbiased in addressing questions about the value of fathers.  Our failure to acknowledge fathers importance is now reflected in the shape of the American family regardless to your ethnicity. Fathers have disappeared. Fewer American fathers are participating in the lives of their children now than at any time since the United States began keeping records.

However, psychologists, biologists, sociologists, and neuroscience have begun to generate solid scientific data on why fathers behave the way they do and why it matters to children. They are investigating the father’s behavior through countless ways like how fathers influence their children, and the factors that shape a father’s involvement in his family.

Along the way, they’ve rejected any number of stereotypes that can explain what a father does. Gone are the father as moral guardian, symbol of masculinity for his sons, and harsh disciplinarians.  These are all fatherly images that were widely accepted and promoted in generations past. “Researchers are now showing that fathers play many roles in their families, including those of companions, care providers, spouses, protectors, models, moral guides, teachers and breadwinners,” according to one recent study.

The discovery of the father is one of the most important developments in the study of children and families. The findings appear in scholarly journals mostly unfamiliar to the public and have escaped extensive thoughtfulness. I’ve been spending time looking over the new science on fatherhood and I’ve found it extremely useful in thinking about my own behavior as a mother and my husband’s behavior as a father with our children.  And I’m sure it would be helpful to others to do the same.

Too often, public and political discussions on fatherhood, what it means to be a father, and what fathers contribute to their children decentralize into angry rants and arguments.  Aggressively supporting the fathers isn’t necessary, which are views based on politics and not research. Father researcher Ross D. Parke and his collaborator, Armin A. Brott, “While politicians change their views to suit the prevailing electoral climate, academic researchers over the past two decades have been nearly unanimous in their findings: fathers matter. And they matter a lot.” They are important in the lives of their children.

What does this mean for nontraditional family’s; divorced parents, single parents, gay parents, or parents who’ve adopted their children?

While many believe they don’t matter, it is important to note that while fathers do matter, others can help to fill that role, and although I’m not intentionally trying to be critical of a woman’s choice to have a father or father like figure in her children’s life the truth of the matter is in order for us to thrive as a society we must include the importance of father’s in their children lives.  Every father who chooses to be a part of their children lives should receive the same consideration as mothers to be respected and honored.

We’ve all made our share of mistakes as a parent. My position is not to criticize anyone else. I respect others choices and trust that with very few exceptions, we all try to do what’s best for our kids. We’re all in this together, and the new findings on fatherhood should be useful to families of all kinds.

We live in a society still driven by racial and economic differences that makes it far easier for some to succeed than for others. But we also know that an African American child raised by a single parent, who barely knew his father, can grow up to be president.

The evidence shows that fathers make important and unique contributions to their children in many ways others don’t and can’t not even their mother’s. It convincingly does not show that the children in families without fathers in the home are doomed to failure or anything close to that.

Barak Obama said in his first campaign for the presidency “We need to help all the mothers out there who are raising these kids by themselves; the mothers who drop them off at school, go to work, pick them up in the afternoon, work another shift, get or make dinner, make lunches, pay the bills, fix the house, and all the other things it takes both parents to do,”

“So many of these women are doing a heroic job, but they need support. They need another parent. Their children need another parent. That’s what keeps their foundation strong. It’s what keeps the foundation of our country strong.”

We often say nothing is more important to us than our children. But our personal and societal priorities don’t always seem in accord with that professed belief. This article is about fathers but it is also about children. If we can imagine a future in which all children have the opportunity to live rewarding lives, then we would be foolish not to consider the role of fathers more carefully. Doing so will strengthen the family, will help mothers, will promote equality and will create a brighter future for our children. Nothing is more important than the importance of fathers in children’s lives.

What are your thoughts about the father’s role in the family? Do you believe the importance of father involvement is important in their children lives? State them in the comments section below. Also, if you are interested in learning more about the statistics on fathers in america, buy this book “Do Fathers Matter?” by Paul Raeburn whom I gathered inspiration to write this article.

Stay tuned as we continue to explore our connection as parents, families, a community and a nation. Strong families build strong nations!

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