It has been scientifically proven that children who have a strong and confident father involved in their lives are more prepared for the the ebb and flow that comes with life. Father’s Day is a special celebration where a child can show admiration and appreciation to a loving dad that has tirelessly fulfilled his duties as a parent. Sons want to be like their father and daughters have the desire to marry someone like their Dads. A father teaches boys how to become men and how to be respectful toward women. Not every child has a father or even a positive male influence in their lives. It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child and that means that there are men in their lives that want to mentor them. There are even mentors for fathers to learn how to be better role models for their children. This process is needed in our present times as children are slipping through the cracks. They are dropping out of school to join gangs and to use drugs. For the most part these kids come from broken homes, without fathers. Hence, Father’s Day and dads are important because without their influence and wisdom, a child is likely to be ill prepared to enter adulthood.
What is a dad?
In YourDictionary.com, dad or rather daddy is defined as an affectionate name for a father. One might say a rather fitting endearment term for fathers that take the time to positively influence their children’s lives, especially when acting as a child’s first role model. According to Bob Milich, PhD, a clinical psychologist, this is particularly true when it comes to boys learning to become men. Dr. Milich suspects that a father who can be an effective disciplinarian, such as setting limits and being consistent in a supportive way, can help to mature his child.
Dr. Milich suggests that it is common for sons to want to emulate their fathers. Eventually father and son watch the same sports, like the same teams and quite often boys even want to dress like their dads. Alison Varianides, executive director of Westchester Psychotherapy in Sleepy Hollow, believes the greatest impact a father can have on a child is through emotional development. Boys watch their fathers’ reactions to emotional situations and learn how they should respond in masculine ways. Dr. Milich agrees that a father’s role is teaching emotional expression through appropriate demonstration.
Varianides strongly asserts that it is best for a child to be without a father than be with an abusive or negative one. Although Varianides’ suggestion leaves the mother to figure out how to fill these relationship roles as growing up in an abusive home will lead to a different host of problems.
A father is just as important of a role model to his daughter as he is to his son. In some ways he may be more important as girls expect their fathers to protect them. The way a father treats his wife will also teach the daughter how a man is to treat her when she gets older. If the husband treats his wife well and is charmingly sweet to her, then that is the type of boyfriend and future husband the daughter will perhaps look for in the future, says Varianides.
What makes men different?
Stacey Slater, a child psychologist from Chappaqua, says there is an emotional difference in the way a father parents. Fathers tend to be more logical thinkers than mothers. They are mostly better at keeping a child to specific limits and are more likely to be a disciplinarian.
One expert psychologist asserts that a father can build character and model those traits differently than a mother. Men tend to be more black-and-white. The most effective parenting with the strongest impact is the partnership between the mother and the father. When a father is involved in their child’s education, even just to lend encouragement, children will usually do better in school. This is a proven and re-proven scientific fact according to this source.
The 2011 Census Bureau reports that 20 percent of American households are married couples with children. This is down from the 25 percent it was in 2000 and 43 percent in 1950. Kids today can have a stay-at-home-dad, two full-time working parents, a single father or step-dad, even two daddies.
Varianides says that American families are changing and children equally need both parents to help them develop their future roles in life. Fathers, in some cases, are beginning to become as involved as mothers and are in their child’s everyday life. It is a completely new dynamic, according to this source.
Dean Dauphinais’s Personal Thoughts from His Life
This year, Father’s Day is on the longest day of the year, June 21. Father, son, blogger and exemplary recovery advocate, Dean Dauphinais says that Father’s Day has, in some way, always made him uncomfortable. He did not have a positive relationship with his dad. He states that for a long time their only relationship was a biological one.
Dean acknowledged his father but he did not have any feelings of respect, love or gratitude towards him as a dad. His father was an alcoholic. Father’s Day was a day of obligation, not a day of appreciation.
Many a Father’s Day rolled by when Dean did not even want to pick up the phone. The blogger admits that saying, “Happy Father’s Day” to his dad was disingenuous. It was simply Dean, going through the motions. Yet, to hear him tell it, he managed to get through those calls with much anguish.
February, 2012, Dean’s dad passed away. His father passed just a few months following their reconciliation. His Father’s Day post in 2013 said, it is ironic sometimes how things work out. For approximately 40 years Dean hated Father’s Day. He hated making those fake phone calls. He disliked having to give his father the mandatory gift and card. Nevertheless, today, Dean says that he wishes he could make the Father’s Day call and give his dad that card and gift he once loathed because now he recognizes what it means not to have him present.
Dean believes he will feel the same this Father’s Day. This Father’s Day he would like the opportunity to hug his dad, and tell him that he loves him, but this time the family advocate would actually mean it.
Another Father’s Day struggle, admits Dean, is wondering if he has he been a good father to his own children. This is perhaps due to the lack of relationship he had with his dad while growing up. Dean tells himself that what he wants to accomplish is to be a better father to his kids. He wants to be the father his boys would want to emulate.
Dean’s father was both, an alcoholic and a workaholic so Dean feels that accomplishing the goal of being a better dad might be easy. He says all it would take is to let his kids know that he loves them, and to be a positive example for his teenagers. According to this father and son, he just wants to teach his boys to be good men. Dean, however, does admit that it is not as easy as it sounds. And he is not sure if he has succeeded.
Dean said that over the past 36 hours it has really hit him. He had a conversation through email with a friend who was young enough to be his daughter. She told him that he was amazing, like the dad she always wanted. A great compliment for most, but that day Dean did not accept it with honor. The night before there was an altercation between him and his youngest son that did not make him feel like a good father. Dean’s family has gone through some struggles. Admittedly, they have all said and done regrettable things to one another. Dean remembers saying hurtful things to his boys out of anger. Things that he would never have dreamed of saying. Things that even his own dad have never said to him.
His boys tell him they love him. They also have both told him that they hate him (teenagers). Today, Dean wants to know how his boys really feel. No one truly knows how other people feel. People may talk about how they feel, but who is to say their words represent their true feelings.
During a conference call Dean heard someone say, in reference to parents dealing with a child in addiction, that “You do the best that you can with what you know at the time. You learn as you go along, and you try to do better. And you can never go wrong with love.”
Dean does not talk about the Father’s Day holiday he has experienced with his own children. However, he hopes that his teens celebrate Father’s Day because they want to and not because they feel obligated.
The FATHER Project
One of this author’s sources, Joe Johnson, was going through a difficult period in his life in 2008. Johnson lost his job, and his brother. He had an addiction that he was able to keep hidden. Consequently, Johnson lost his home and almost squandered his relationship with his wife. After having a self reflective epiphany, Johnson decided that he needed to change his life.
While struggling to get his life together, Johnson was invited to a FATHER project meeting. FATHER Project teaches dads to be great. They learn from each other and support each other. For the most part, Johnson learned how to forgive himself so he could be mentally healthy and available for his children.
In July of 2009, Johnson landed a job working in the environmental services department at CHI St. Joseph’s Health hospital, in Park Rapids, Michigan. During his employment, he saw dads calling out for help in Hubbard County. Johnson discovered there was the same kind of calls in other areas of the state as well. He asked his mentor from the FATHER project to expand the program to Detroit Lakes. As a result, it has helped fathers break the cycle and get on the right path to raising their children.
After receiving help from the FATHER Project, Johnson went on to train in Florida so that he could become a leader/mentor to others. While in Florida, Johnson discovered that there was a shortage of help for fathers. He therefore worked tirelessly to fulfil this need by leading men to the FATHER Project in Hubbard County.
In the four years since becoming a leader, Johnson has led 225 fathers through the program. Fathers meet once a week for two hours. During these sessions, dads learn about discipline over punishment. They learn to love themselves. This accomplishment enables them to embrace their children. They also reflect upon who their own dads were and what kind of parent they want to be to their own children. These men are likely to have children who celebrate Father’s Day because they want to, not because they have to; and they want to because deep down inside they know how important it is to celebrate Father’s day and the dads that have greatly influenced their lives. To them, Father’s Day and dads are important.
By Jeanette Smith
Westchester Magazine: Why We Need Dads
Huffington Post: Why Father’s Day is so Difficult for Me – Dean Dauphinais
DL-Online: FATHER Project is helping local men become better dads
Photos courtesy of:
Loren Kerns’ Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
gato-gato-gato’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
John Ragal’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Thomas Renken’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Kim Seng’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Kimberly Flickr Page – Creative Commons License