Fatherhood- The role of a father in early childhood
From birth, through early childhood and right into adulthood, mothers are almost always the forerunner in a child’s life – as their biggest cheerleaders, caregivers, sources of support, and a lot more. However, this picture is not always the only side that is painted. The role of a father in early childhood development runs deeper than just the ‘silent superhero’.
To raise a well-developed child, mothers and fathers both play an equally important role. While ‘traditional literature’ portrays mothers as the primary caregivers, a father’s role is as important. Children with equally involved and invested parents are more likely to be confident, emotionally secure, adaptable, open to new things, and have optimal social skills.
“A father doesn’t tell you he loves you; he shows you.”
While staying away from stereotypical attributes to behavior, it is important to note that it could be easier for fathers (masculine energy, father figures) to be more logic-driven. Thus, the above line holds true. Fathers show their children love in many different ways – each playing an important role in the holistic development of children.
THE ROLE OF A FATHER IN EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT
Children look to their father to provide security – physical, emotional and mental. Like mothers, fathers also hold equal responsibility as being pillars to a child’s development. Especially in early years, children look to their fathers to set certain rules and boundaries. Therefore, fathers play an important role in building and promoting inner strength and growth. It is important that fathers also express their own emotional side and vulnerability in a healthy way – this encourages children to be more comfortable with themselves and therefore express themselves honestly. Fathers who are supportive and affectionate help nurturing those same qualities in their children, by being role models for holistic expression of feelings, thoughts and behaviors; these develop into healthy social and emotional skills that continue developing even in a child’s later stages of life.
Guiding Star for Relationships and Social Interactions
Fathers play a big role in influencing how children look at the outside world. How a father talks to his child, addresses his child’s concerns or fears, interacts with others role models how children interact with others. It greatly influences the growing behavioral patterns of children. As children grow into teenagers, young adults and adults, these observations of early-year interactions greatly determines the kind of friendships, relationships and behavior that children choose.
A Child’s First Friend
There is a reason that ‘dad=jokes’ are a growing trend. Fathers have the capacity to be light-hearted entertainers with a quick comment or a funny joke when the time is right. Fathers have the tendency to re-live their childhood when they spend time with their children. Fatherhood is almost like a second childhood. Therefore, fathers almost always become a confidante and friend to their children, often using play as a way to connect with and teach their children. Play and fun go a long way in strengthening the father-child bond.
Fathers often teach their children the ways of the world. In today’s world this role is equally shared by mothers and fathers. There are a lot of ways a father can act as a guide to their children. He can help them understand confusing things about the world, he can guide them when they are confused and through all that provide non-judgemental and unconditional guidance and support.
Fathers and Daughters
Fathers and daughters usually share a very special bond. Young girls depend on their fathers for emotional support and guidance. As they grow older, they look up to their father’s security. An involved father who is kind and caring helps nurture the child’s trust in the world and confidence to develop all the skills and confidence that she has inherently.
Fathers and Sons
While this is not a rule, if girls look up to their fathers for support and guidance, boys most often look at their fathers as their biggest role models. This is especially true in the early years. Boys tend to look to their fathers for approval, as a guide, as someone to role model the ‘right kind of behavior’.
An involved father who embodies good qualities will most likely be a beacon of these same behaviors for his son. Thus, a male figure can model behavior that his children observe, and carry with them their entire lives; eventually to use as a guiding light while forming their own values and ideals.
“A father can love completely, give quietly, teach gently and inspire deeply.”