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The Taos News




Fathers Are Important 365 Days A Year

July 2015

We recently celebrated Father’s Day, which still might have left some with the question of how important are fathers, really?  Until recently, when we thought about the roles of fathers, we relied on hunches, instincts, prejudice, and misinformation, rather than real understanding.   Many researchers believed that because mothers were the primary caretakers, they were far more significant than fathers.  However, new evidence shows that fathers make important and unique contributions to their children beyond bringing home a paycheck, (which also has great merit and should not be underestimated) and are vastly important in their lives.  

A father’s contribution starts before his child is even conceived.  His living and working environment, his behavior, and even his appearance have substantial effects on the health of the fetus. Thus it is wise for men who are about to become fathers to think about their own health and well-being, even before their wives or partners become pregnant.    Another important contribution he makes is through the support he lends to the mother of his child during the pregnancy.  When he does such basic things as going out to buy the mother of his child necessary supplies, takes her to the doctor and attends the birth, he helps to reduce the chances of their child being born prematurely or even of dying. 

Many fathers are excited about becoming a parent and are very interested in spending time with their newborns.  The interactions that infants have with such fathers will be enjoyable, and highly positive emotions will be shared between them.  Often, infants prefer to be held by their fathers because the holding is more likely to result in play, whereas when their mother holds them it is generally to feed or cloth them.  What is important here is that fathers show normal emotions, which enable them to be nurturing and attentive.  Of course, this is beneficial to their child.

Playing, engaging together in sports, wrestling with a son, and otherwise challenging children are hallmarks of the involvement of fathers with children of all ages.  These activities enable a child to feel more adventuresome and more secure in new and different environments.  As well, when a father shows sensitivity to his child, the child is shown to have much better relationships with his teachers.  Another very important point: children whose fathers play with and talk to them have more advanced vocabulary skills. These few examples show how fathers make important contributions to their child’s success in school, a success that extends throughout his or her life.

A father also plays a central role in his child’s healthy socialization.  For example, children whose fathers read to them, take them on outings, and help care for them have fewer behavioral problems and less likelihood of delinquency or criminal behavior.  Those children generally are better liked by their peers.  Children who are actively loved and accepted by their father are more independent and emotionally stable; they are more apt to have strong self-esteem and a positive world view.  They become more empathetic.  Children who have fond childhood memories of their father are more likely to be able to handle the day-to-stresses of life.  A father’s involvement with his son enhances the likelihood that the son will achieve more when he grows up and leaves the family.  And I cannot emphasize this enough: living with an involved and caring father protects daughters from risky sexual behavior and enables them to be more successful in the world.

To conclude, fathers are very important in helping their children become healthy and happy adults who are at ease in the world and who are prepared to become mothers or fathers themselves.  We have all heard the expression that doing what is best for our children is more important than anything else we do.  What is best for our kids always includes a positive and important role for fathers, 365 days a year!


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