Dear Parents and Guardians
The Importance of Fathers & Father’s Day
As a father, I am truly blessed to have three sons and a daughter as well as four grandchildren (two boys and two girls). Unfortunately, two of my sons and two of my grandchildren live in Australasia, which makes it hard to spend time with them, so one has to use the technology available to us today to keep in touch. I am fortunate that my daughter lives in Pretoria with her husband, son and daughter and I can see them more regularly. Sunday is Father’s Day and it will be an occasion to touch base with all the children and grandchildren around the globe by phone and Whatsapp. Even though my family is spread far and wide, I am blessed to have them as part of my life and for that I am very grateful.
I thought it important to focus on what research tells us on the importance of fathers in their children’s lives, particularly as we are involved in educating boys. We are very aware of the significant role that men play as role models in the lives of our boys at Maritzburg College.
According to a report in “Fathers and Their Impact on Children’s Well-Being”:
“Even from birth, children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident to explore their surroundings, and, as they grow older, have better social connections.
The way fathers play with their children also has an important impact on a child’s emotional and social development. Fathers spend a higher percentage of their one-to-one interactions with infants and pre-schoolers in stimulating, playful activity than do mothers. From these interactions, children learn how to regulate their feelings and behaviour.
Children with involved, caring fathers have better educational outcomes. The influence of a father’s involvement extends into adolescence and young adulthood. Numerous studies find that an active and nurturing style of fathering is associated with better verbal skills, intellectual functioning, and academic achievement among adolescents.”
What is the reality these days? There is no question that fathers play an important part in their children’s lives. The majority of studies affirm that an involved father plays a crucial role in the cognitive, behavioural and general health and well-being areas of a child’s life. Having a positive male role model helps an adolescent boy develop positive gender-role characteristics, and adolescent girls are more likely to form positive opinions of men and are better able to relate to them when fathered by an involved father. A father’s presence and involvement can be as crucial to a child’s healthy development as is the mother’s; and experiencing validation of their importance in parenting literature, has made fathers much more conscious of their value and, in turn, a greater desire to be involved.
However, there is still a wide gap between research results and true acceptance of the value of fathers, with many fathers expressing that they continue to feel they are second-class citizens in the world of their children. Books, magazines and morning television shows are filled with information about and for mothers and mothering. How many comparable ones have you seen about fathers? It’s only recently that domestic courts, recognizing the research on parenting and fathers, have moved to greater equal child custody decrees. Fathers who want to become more actively involved in their children’s lives often hit barriers from employers, the media and even their wives who may feel threatened by a child calling for “daddy” instead of “mommy”. “
At College we need to support families with issues relating to the absent father, the alienated father and the divorced father.
There is no doubt as far as our boys are concerned that the role of their father is significant.
I wish to thank all fathers for making a difference in their son’s lives on a daily basis, and those who are not fathers, but significant male role models such as male teachers, step fathers and guardians.
Research indicates that boys want you to be the hero in their lives even if you aren’t, to have a sense of humour – and to laugh more often. Your sons/boys appreciate what you do for them even if they don’t always show it. For the sons out there – if you haven’t thanked your dad for what he does for you, please do.
Enjoy some time together over the June holiday break.