- - Monday, June 12, 2017

Any Man Can Be A Father, But It Takes A Real Man To Be A Dad

It’s never been easy to be a man.

Once upon a time men had to stand at the mouth of the cave, protecting their women and children from roving predatory beasts.  (Come to think of it, some of that job still remains!)

Sometimes men had to go down into deep dark mines, or out into fields to do dangerous, dirty and demoralizing work just to keep food on the table. (Come to think of it, some of that remains, too!)

Men once had to keep a lid on their feelings, were forbidden to cry – or show fear, weakness, or indeed any tender need.  Only one emotion was freely permitted to the manly man, and that was anger.  Men became experts at anger.  Once upon a time men were strong, silent types: They were lone rangers, fierce fighters and even Mad Men.

Throughout it all, real men were the dads: they protected, they provided, they encouraged and guided by example.  Most of all, they were there. Now that in 40 percent of American households, women are either the sole or the primary breadwinner, dads are freer to define their masculinity by more robust measures than earning power alone.  Men who take advantage of the opportunities afforded by more flexible, expanded fathering roles enrich themselves and their families in the process.

It is impossible to over-estimate the importance of dad. For example, girls who have good relationships with their fathers are less likely to engage in risky behaviors and tend to do better in
math. Boys who have actively involved fathers tend to have fewer behavioral problems, have better grades and perform better on achievement tests.

How important are dads?  Here’s what some recent research show:
A review of more than 500 studies from around the world found that acceptance or rejection from a parent in childhood is one of the greatest influences on personality development. Rejection by either parent is a deep wound, and rejection or abandonment by the father can be particularly damaging.

The researchers suggest that, despite the social changes in gender roles, a father is still perceived to be the more powerful parent or the parent with the higher prestige, which makes rejection by him so profoundly hurtful.

Another study looked at an aspect of parenting that is usually ignored, the infant-father relationship. A fascinating English study assessed father-infant interactions when the babies were 3 months old, and compared them to the babies’ behavior at 12 months.

They found the children whose fathers were more engaged had better outcomes, and later on had fewer behavioral problems. Even the tiniest tots benefit from their daddies’ attention.

So on this coming Father’s Day lets honor dads and all they mean to us — from infancy on up through adulthood. We need them to be there, we need them to care, and we are grateful to let them know how much they truly matter.

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