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​If ever a story, a relationship, a social infrastructure, or a magical phenomenon been more under emphasized than the importance of a child’s need for their father’s love and attention, I cannot imagine what it would be!  My own experience, my research, shocking statistics, and the stories I have seen and heard all tell me this is true.

Of course, children also need their mother, but their story and importance is relatively very well known. A father would never be a replacement for a mother, but neither can she replace him. Ideal parenting involves the work of two people. Yet, mom is too often without the dad to help raise their children. A mom and dad are not opposites, but complements of their parenting partnership. Of course, there are many circumstances that do not allow a man and woman to raise children together. Some are unavoidable, but the lack of emphasis on the crucial role of fatherhood contributes to the avoidable incidents of a father’s lack of involvement.

There are nuggets of encouragement! The government has Fatherhood.gov. There are groups like the National Fatherhood Initiative and Gooddads.com. Business has Dove’s Men’s Health Care support of fatherhood. There are also many dad bloggers like myself, although we are outnumbered 17 to 1 compared to mom bloggers. But more emphasis on helping and encouraging families to stay together must happen!

Emotional Well-Being
I don’t think every father knows just how important he is to his children. Many do, but I don’t feel confident about saying most. I’m not thinking of financial importance, which is critical. I’m not even thinking about how a father protects his children, which is crucial! These are the areas that, unfortunately, many people think of when we talk of a father’s importance in a home. There is another matter in which fathers are fundamentally necessary to the health and growth of their children–emotional well-being!

A kid’s emotional well-being concerns their stress level, the emotion of happiness, self-satisfaction, and anxiety level. If any of these criteria are at risk, the child will suffer not only emotionally, but their physical health could deteriorate.

Children with good emotional health:

  • Do well in school, at home, and in other social situations
  • Feel good about themselves, and don’t suffer from self-esteem issues
  • Believe that they are valued and belong
  • Are able to accept changes better and just go with the flow
  • Have fun and enjoy others
  • Have less stress, and are better equipped to deal with stress
  • Feel contentment with their lives

While the importance of fatherhood is discussed in relative whispers, its impact on children roars!

So how do we as fathers contribute to our children’s emotional well-being? Naturally, parents have the most influence and are the most responsible for all aspects of their children’s lives. We teach them whether we do so intentionally or not, whether we are good or bad examples. “Do as I say and not as I do,” never works as a value system or mentoring technique, therefore, be sure to be a good example and a knowledgeable teacher.

Here are a few things to think about.

  • You must be careful with your criticisms and honest in your praise.
  • Most important is your interest in them. A child ignored by his or her parents can feel defeated and lose their self-worth, then react to that feeling by becoming more aggressive or more reclusive. Be sure to listen intently when you know what your children are saying is important to them. Aggressively attend their parent-teacher conferences, coach their sports if possible, and give them flowers after their dance recitals.
  • Teaching your children values to live by will give them the confidence to make decisions in their lives, especially when they must act on their own. This will become very important with the peer pressure that will undoubtedly challenge them. Being in control is a vital component of a child’s emotional well-being.
  • Teaching your children kindness will allow others to like them and teaching them strength will allow them to ignore those that don’t. How do you teach these lessons? By being kind and showing strength yourself.
  • Good parents pay attention to character in their children. Their moral and ethical actions and reactions to everyday events are key indicators of their emotional well-being. Kids have good character when they respect others, are responsible for their actions, and show humility. When you see integrity in your children, it is a very good sign that you have been a great parent or very lucky. If you don’t, their lack of character likely didn’t come about overnight and it won’t be corrected overnight.
  • Dads are male role models for their sons and examples of male respect towards females. Boys need to prove themselves to someone male. If not their father, then who? When fatherless boys band together, you can be assured it is a recipe for trouble. They tend to want to prove their manhood to each other in all the wrong ways.
  • Girls need male approval. Reassurance from their mother of their self-worth is not enough. They need the feeling of being valued by a male. Again, their father is in the best position to do this honestly. Without this, the girl will look for male approval in the wrong places and from individuals who may not have their best interests in mind.
  • Dads actively parenting in homes helps our society. Look at various neighborhoods, comparing single vs two parent home statistics, then compare them to the crime statistics in the same neighborhoods. You will see what I mean.

I think fathers are aware of their fiscal and protection responsibilities much more than their nurturing responsibilities.  Society suffers one bad father at a time and is advanced by every good father who attends to the emotional well-being of his children, working of course with their mother. Today’s children are the leaders and parents of tomorrow. When we teach them well, they will do the same with their children, and if the trend continues with each generation, watch the social issues of our country dissolve into a mere distraction. Media, businesses, and our government could do more to help this often dire situation where fathers are absent. While discussion of fatherhood may be a whisper, the impact of fatherhood roars!

About the author

Michael Smith, the author of The Power of Dadhood: How to Become the Father Your Child Need, is the father of three adult children and grandfather of four. He is a retired US Air Force officer and resides with his wife in St. Louis, MO. Michael can be reached for question or comment at [email protected].

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