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The Importance of the Father Figure (Child Development), Research Paper Example

Pages: 12

Words: 3245

Research Paper

Nowadays psychologists say that the real fatherhood begins long before the child is born. To become a father means to acquire an appropriate outlook in order to be able to perform the duties which include social, emotional, and intellectual development of a child (Lamb 215). So, parents should be aware of the fact that they bear responsibility for providing their child not only with food, clothes and other material things but also appropriate psychological atmosphere which would enable the child to develop socially, emotionally, and intellectually. However, few fathers feel they fatherhood to the full extent from the very beginning. It seems that at first they feel just financial responsibility and only when their children grew enough, they become able to communicate with them in full. According to psychologists it is not right – fathers should be fathers from the very beginning. It may become possible only if men comprehend the role of father in upbringing the child (Astone 73).

The most widespread model of fatherhood has always been a traditional one when the father is a bread-earner, source of power, a role model, and teacher in social life. Moreover, he takes important decisions, gives advice, and punishes, because he is considered the most experienced, skilful and intelligent member of the family.  Here fathers are mostly responsible for upbringing boys, but not girls.

Changes in the institution of family began in 1960s when the woman got more involved in different kinds of professional activity. It triggered in turn the changes of women’s position in a family. While before a woman entirely depended upon a husband, today the responsibility for material security is often taken by a woman which results in the shift of women’s position not only in house duties but also upbringing of a child.

A new outlook on gender roles with the growth of feminization could not help influencing the institution of fatherhood. In the traditional family model a father’s role was considered to be mainly a secondary one. However, in 1980’s in the USA sociologists and psychologists pointed out a new image of a father, which was in many points opposite to the traditional model (Vogel 61). The difference consisted predominantly in relations with infants: a new model implied father’s participation in nursing and emotional contact with a child. Psychologists state that fathers taking more interest in their children’s development are less rigid to them and better understand their needs (Sigel 29). Significant is that fathers who are inclined to put the burden of household cares on their wives are more critical to their children than those sharing duties with women.

To add, it should be noted that nowadays there is a trend of exchanging the roles in the family, breaking the stereotypes of traditional family. So, men take the duties of housekeeping and upbringing children, while women make career and keep a family. Interesting is that fathers perform their duties not worse than women in that case. However, despite the fact that the families like this are not rare today, the majority of married couples prefer to perform traditional roles.

According to Erich Fromm father’s love in comparison with mother’s one is more demanding. It is also said to be relative one which is to be earned (1958). To make it more clear, the father’s love is not inherent, but is developing during the first years of a child’s life. To deserve this kind of love a child’s conduct should satisfy definite social requirements and father’s expectations concerning talents, skills and achievements of a child.

While mother’s love is absolute, father’s one is a reward for decent conduct and progress. For a father a child is first of all the one who continues the family line – a successor who is to keep the family traditions. That is why he wants to instill into his child social qualities that make a child a worthy bearer of the family name. So, in accordance to this, the main role of a father is to encourage social development of a child. While a mother gives children the opportunity to experience the intimacy of love, a father shows the way to the human society. He provides the children with knowledge about the world, as well as contributes to the shaping valuable aims and ideals of the children. To add, the father’s authority influences the development of a child in a positive way, while the mother’s one – in a negative way.

The peculiarities of a father’s role in upbringing is determined by such factors as his “availability” for a child, as well as his involvement into communication, responsibility for material security and organizing educational activities. Psychologists compared the mothers and fathers who take active part in upbringing their child and concluded that fathers influence the development of their children stronger than mothers that is they are more successful (McGee 89).

In addition, they found out that children brought up without fathers become more inclined to human sciences. Moreover, the certain connection between the level of father’s job sophistication and his child’s brilliance was detected.

It should be mentioned that it is nontypical of our culture to externally demonstrate love and tenderness, especially when it concerns fathers. It is a rare thing to see a father walking with his son hand in hand – more often they are even not talking to each other, as if a father just accompanies his child. It is uncharacteristic of modern father to embrace or lap their children, as well as commend, tell or teach something new. Nowadays a father’s love is mostly expressed by expensive toys which can no substitute care, understanding, friendship, and harmony of interests. So, one should comprehend that a father is not only a provider, but also a person who helps a child to discover the world and grow smart and self-confident.

In the following part of the paper we would like to name what are the main functions of a father in the family. First of all, a father is a person who influences the child’s identification. It is a father who helps a child to get aware of his or her sex. Second, he is not just a relative for a child, but a model of a man, a symbol of masculinity which enables children to get the first idea of themselves and people around. Then, almost all men have a hereditary instinct to protect their family, as well as take care of them. Moreover, a father is the embodiment of discipline and order. He is the one who provides confidence and peace in the family. In addition, a father may teach his child to be self-motivated and be able to stand against social pressure, as well as protect oneself from psychological and physical threats. In comparison with women men are not apt to coddling their children which also has a positive effect – develops self-discipline and makes the process of socialization much faster.

It takes mothers much effort to instill some personal qualities into their children. Very often the reason for this is mothers’ inability to be strict in relation to their kids. However, fathers make it easily, because it is in their nature to be demanding and self-disciplined. So, a father often influences such qualities as self-control, deliberateness, equability of mind, optimism, responsibility, and peace of mind.

So, what can a father teach his child in the first years of life? First and foremost, it is love. His affectionate and tender attitude to his wife child demonstrates the child that his parents are kind and sensitive and they love their child which means that the whole world is kind and reliable. In such a way a father gives his child the first positive impression of the world.

As the child’s emotional world becomes more sophisticated and, therefore, contradictory, the question of parent’s authority becomes of major importance for him. In this period a father should demonstrate his competence in the areas his child is interested in, as well as be proud of his own skills and knowledge and try to teach his child do the same things. It goes without saying that a mother should also make children respect their father, put emphasis on good personal qualities of his. Being highly respected by children, parents have an opportunity to influence their children in a positive way and serve a good example for children. To add, in case a father tells his child stories from his own childhood, it will enable him to earn a child’s trust, as the stories like these enable children to see the adults inexperienced and funny as the kids are now and, as a result, feel equality with them.

Eventually, the relationships between a father and a child become more complicated. However, in case a father was a close friend to his child all the time, even after a child grew, they will remain intimate and honest.

While the role of a father in a boy’s development is understood as a role model which a child is to follow in his life and try to acquire the same personal qualities as his fathers has, the father influence on a daughter is much more complicated and has to be viewed in more details. A father is a model of a future husband for a girl. Because of the fact that in the beginning of her life, the father is the only person of a male sex she keeps in touch with, it is probable that she makes attempts to learn to attract men with the help of her father. Unconscious coquetry of her is the first sign that she became to separate from her mother as the only person existing (McGee 263). In this period of socialization the father’s task is to support his daughter’s desire to communicate and in such a way not to spoil her future relationships with men.

The point is that in the situation like this the father can easily lose his authority. Facing the jealousy towards the mother, he should calmly demonstrate the daughter that she is still loved and cared. To add, not to provoke the conflict, a man should keep to the rules that existed in the family beforehand, paying similar attention to both the wife and the daughter.

During the school years a father is invaluable in the role of an interested listener and tactful adviser. However, in this period girls become more reserved with a father, still observing his relationships with the mother and creating her own model of an ideal family. Again, the father should be very tactful and tolerable to deserve the daughter’s trust.

The most important period of relationships between the father and his daughter begins when she falls in love. In this case it is the father whose turn is to fell jealous. It is a good lesson for both, as the father gets the opportunity to gain insight into his relations with his child as well as learn to be more tolerant to others. I such a way the father can demonstrate the boy of her choice his respect for daughter which will lead to respectful attitude of his daughter’s husband. A daughter in turn learns to understand and accept the feelings of beloved people. This example shows that fathers influence their children not only directly, but also through their own problems and trials.

Some words should be also said about relationships between a father and a son. Boys are apt to copying their father’s behavior. If a small boy imitates the process of smoking or shouts at his mother, he might be just repeating after his father. It means that to avoid this in future, a father should give up the bad habits like these ones.

As the boy is growing, it becomes important that he not only loves his father, but also highly respects him. The child’s expectations become higher and he demands from him more and more knowledge and skills and tries to acquire the same ones. Although it is a great challenge for a father to meet his child’s expectations, it a good sigh when a boy strives for being like his father, as it means that he admires his parent and will not take as a role model other people.

A father is the best adviser in the question of sex education. He should be ready to discuss sensitive issues in such a manner that a boy does not feel ashamed or abased. All this will definitely have a bearing on a boy’s self-esteem and future sexual relations.

The role of a father in upbringing the child may be clearly understood if we look what consequences may have the absence of a man in the family. Studies proved that children, especially boys, who was growing without a father have the higher level of trait anxiety, as well as neurotic disorders. Moreover, they have difficulty in communication with counterparts, which affects their academic performance and, as a result, low self-esteem. To add, it is extremely difficult for a boy to comprehend the role of a man without a proper example and very often they begin to hypertrophy the masculinity of their conduct – become rude, quarrelsome, and bellicose. There may appear problems in relationships with people of the opposite sex.  On the other hand, children who are brought up only by a woman are not taught to be active, calm and self-confident which may lead to their being sleepy, slow, physically weak and helpless in future. Moreover, absence of a bread-earner in the family may result in financial trouble that also hinders the sound breeding of a child.

There are several types of fathers which differ in their conduct and attitude to the family and children. It is evident that the peculiarities of each of the types influence the manner the child is being brought up in. In this case we name negative influence that father’s behavior may bear.

To the first type belong the men who are always indulging their kids. The reason for this is that they do not want to get into conflict with children and do their best to engage them with something and at the same time not to be diverted from a TV-program or newspaper. The father like this is always spoiling the efforts of the wife to discipline a child. In spite of the fact that children adore such fathers as a source of constant entertainment, when a child becomes teenager, he ceases to respect his father and may even be rude to him. The point is that fathers of this type should learn to communicate with children more intensively and warmly – in this case they can easily recover their authority.

Another type is a father who limits his responsibilities to the function of a bread-earner. It seems that he tries to satisfy his children with as many material things as possible. However, no matter how many expensive toys he buys, deep inside he is unsatisfied, annoyed and feels guilt for substituting human attention with toys. Children willingly make use of parent’s generosity but still do not forgive him indifference and lack of interest to their life. The father’s conduct like this may lead to estrangement between children and parents who do not understand that for children it is much more important to feel love and attachment rather than financial abundance. The point is that children may copy this inefficient family model.

To the third type one can refer a father who demands from his child absolute attention and submission. As a rule, he means to control the whole life of a child and chooses himself books, hobbies and even friends his son or daughter in his opinion must be interested in. Moreover, he finds it an ordinary thing to scold and punish them before strangers. Children fear fathers like these and try to hide their mistakes from them. Consequently, children become unsure of themselves and get low self-esteem.

We listed the main personal qualities of a father which may have negative effect on children. In addition, the psychologists offered a list of duties that a man should be able to carry out to become a good father (Keller 115). So, to bring up a child in an appropriate way one should be able to protect a child from dangers, listen to him attentively, go for his child’s success, give useful advice, teach to make right decisions, praise for good deeds, criticize for bad deeds, be generous, fair, and sensitive, keep to the rules which he teaches his children. Moreover, to make relationships within a family better, a man should respect the children’s mother, discipline children with love and in such a way earn the right to be heard, become a decent role model and show affection to all members of the family.

To conclude, in our assignment we viewed the importance of a father figure in upbringing the child. We proved that fathers have great influence upon social, emotional, and intellectual development of a child. Moreover, he serves as a role model for children. We also discovered that in order to fully participate in the process of development of a child, a man should comprehend the importance of his personality for a child from the very beginning of his fatherhood. To add, he should bear responsibility not only for financial security of a child but also his social and psychological security, because a father here is the first person who helps the child to get acquainted with the world and become aware of the fact that the world is to rely upon. It is the father who can ensure the future success and prosperity of a child. In addition, we named the main functions of a father in the family and listed negative qualities that can affect the future life of a child. Pointing out that there is a certain difference in the father’s relationships with a son and a daughter, we viewed the main life periods of boys and girls and the troubles they may face in this period. We also described the main aspects of fathers’ behavior in this period and the ways the mistakes can be avoided. Moreover, we concluded that while the child’s emotional life becomes more sophisticated and, therefore, contradictory, the question of parent’s authority becomes of major importance for him and a parent should do his best to develop themselves and not to lose children’s respect.

Thus, in recent years there is a shift in public opinion on the role of a father in the family.  According to this, a father should take more active part in upbringing children and, therefore, be more interested in their children’s development. These positive changes are said to improve the process of children’s development and contribute to their psychological and physical health in future.

Works Cited

Astone, N. M., Dariotis, J., Sonenstein, F., and J. H. Pleck. Fatherhood, union status and  men’s work lives. Los Angeles: Population Association of America, 2006.

Cassidy, J. Handbook of attachment: Theory, research, and clinical applications. New York: Guilford, 1999.

Coleman, J. Parential involvement in education. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, 1991.

Fromm, E. Erich Fromm Archive. 1958. 20 Mar. 2009. http://www.marxists.org/archive/fromm/

Keller, H. Cultures of infancy. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 2007.

Lamb, M. E. The role of the father in child development. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2004.

McGee, C. Childhood experiences of domestic violence. London: Jessica Kingsley, 2000.

Sigel, I. E. Parental belief systems: The psychological consequences for children. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 1985.

Vogel, A. C., Bradley, H. R., Raikes, H. H., Boller, K., and Jeffrey K. Shears. Relation Between Father Connectedness and Child Outcomes. Parenting: Science and Practice.

Lawewnce Erlbaum Associates, Inc., 2006.

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